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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism – February 2020 Update

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    Graduates of New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism programs not only have gone on to have successful media careers, but they also seem to be having a lot of fun too!

    Case in point: Most of you already know that the film Parasite was the surprise big winner at this year’s Academy Awards. Well it just so happens that independent film/entertainment reporter and NYFA alum Federica Polidoro did an EXCLUSIVE interview with the South Korean director behind this brilliant film, Bong Joon-ho.

    Joelle Gargulio was a member of the very first NYFA Broadcast Journalism graduating class. From there, she started an entry level job at NBC Interactive, then worked her way up to a reporting/producing role on the Weekend Today show.

    Here she is hosting the #PopStart segment on a recent Saturday morning (Note the cross-platform distribution). Television isn’t just television anymore!

    Speaking of cross-platform distribution…Gillian Kemmerer was already an accomplished print journalist when she enrolled at NYFA, but wanted to become a multimedia journalist (MMJ). These days, she is covering sports and business, with a special emphasis on international hockey. She just passed an important milestone on Twitter and now has over 35,000 followers

    Gillian Kemmerer being filmed for a hockey segment.

    Over the years, we have had a number of talented Brazilian students in the Broadcast Journalism department. Daniella Gemignani was already working for Brazilian media powerhouse Globo when she came to NYFA to study Broadcast Journalism, but she wanted to deepen and expand her skill-set. Recently, she celebrated her fifth anniversary with Globo.

    Speaking of work anniversaries, Beatriz (“Bia”) Puente will have one next year after being offered a producer position at the third largest TV Channel in Brazil. Congratulations Bia!

    Vivian Faver was a member of my first 1-Year Broadcast Journalism program. Nobody could stop Vivian because she was a force of nature and was determined to succeed and work in New York. And succeed she did. The latest evidence is her first story on CNN Style. 

    Another NYFA alum, Mariana Janjacomo, recently penned a special piece for Trivago Magazine about what to do in Florida in the winter. Spoiler Alert: You can enjoy it a lot!

    Another Broadcast Journalism alum, who took a short-term workshop at NYFA, Daniel Fideli, recently recounted his final graduation project for the workshop back in 2014. “NYFA was such an intense experience,” he remembers, “I tend to say that those two months were more useful for me than my four years at university.”

    Meanwhile, we also have an update from the Broadcast Journalism department’s “ambassador to the red carpet,” NYFA alum Bryanna Reynolds:

    Finally, this July, Evgenia Vlasova and myself are teaching a 3-Week Journalism workshop in Moscow. Are you Russian? An early career journalist? A university student starting your senior year in September? (Or do you know someone like that?) Full scholarships are available, covering tuition, housing and transportation. Find more information at: http://nyfajss.com.

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    February 25, 2020 • Broadcast Journalism, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1030

  • New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA) Acting for Film Alum Natalya Butkevich Creating New YouTube Channel

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    Buzz has been steadily growing for influencer and television personality Natalya Butkevich, an alum of the Acting for Film program at New York Film Academy Los Angeles (NYFA-LA.)

    Butkevich originally hails from Russia and in August 2009 she attended the 4-Week Acting for Film workshop at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus.

    Natalya Butkevich

    NYFA alum Natalya Butkevich

    Since graduating NYFA, Butkevich has steadily increased her star power as an actress, producer, and TV presenter, and had the foresight to use social influencing as a medium even in its earliest days. 

    In 2010, Butkevich owned a program on television, Kinoshanc, and has been featured in many top publications, as well as on the covers of magazines including Elle, Women’s Health, Tatler, and Cosmopolitan.

    Also a writer,  Butkevich has created a brand from her love of travel, writing blogs about her travel experiences. Her Instagram popularity is growing at a rapid pace as she provides insight into her day to day life from her fashion styles to her favorite destinations. To date, Butkevich has traveled to many destinations including Turkey, Miami, New York, Bahamas, and Dubai.

    “It is really important to understand your body from within and surround yourself with positivity,” Butkevich recently shared with The Statesman. A YouTube channel is a perfect fit for Butkevich, so it’s no surprise she is currently working on launching her own.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA-LA Acting for Film alum Natalya Butkevich on her new YouTube channel and encourages everyone to subscribe!

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    January 7, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1327

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Photography Alum Alina Grafkina Is Everywhere

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography alum Alina Grafkina has not been shy about showing off her amazing work; in addition to numerous publications, she just recently had her images published in Nylon Germany.

    Alina Grafkina
    Grafkina originally hails from Russia and enrolled in the BFA in Photography program at the Photo Arts Conservatory at New York Film Academy (PAC at NYFA) at our Los Angeles campus in Spring 2017.

    Grafkina has specialized in fashion and corporate photography, exploring the ideas of diverse beauty and originality through a colorful pop aesthetic. She has shown comfort with both natural and studio lighting and has built a reputation on her originality and professionalism.

    She has since seen her work showcased not only in Nylon Germany but has been published in Vogue Italia 30 times as well. Additionally, she has been showcased in Vulkan magazine and Bello magazine, among others.

    New York Film Academy congratulates BFA in Photography alum Alina Grafkina on her continued success and is thrilled to see her work being shown for all the world to see!

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    July 31, 2019 • Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 636

  • NYFA Alumni’s “Suka” Featured on Youtube’s Russian Cinema Week

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    From November 28 through December 4 YouTube hosted “Russian Cinema Week.” During that period more than 200 Russian films were available in to watch in full. To launch that project Google has partnered with multiple production companies and distributors.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, the list of featured movies included the Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning film “Leviathan,” Timur Bekmambetov-produced, New Year’s themed franchise “Yolki” (Christmas Trees) and one of Russia’s all-time box-office champions a Nikolai Lebedev’s hockey biopic “Legenda Nomer 17” (Legend No. 17).

    NYFA is pleased to announce that the short film, “Suka” — created and produced by New York Film Academy alumni, producer Maria Rogotskaya and director Cyril Zima — was chosen to be a part of the short selection of the site. It is now the film with the most views!

    “Suka” previously won Best Foreign Film Award at the Myrtle Beach International Film Festival and was renowned at many others film festivals including San Jose, BUSHO, and Sapporo Short Fest.

    russian cinema

    producer Maria Rogotskaya and director Cyril Zima

    Rogotskaya and Zima are currently working on a feature noir / Sci-Fi thriller called “Charon,” which takes place in present-day Los Angeles. As a former crime journalist, Zima uses his huge investigating experience to work on the story development. Without giving away any spoilers, the film is a very deep physiological drama.

    “When Maria and I came to NYFA to obtain our Master’s Degree, we already had a solid background in the field, but we had no experience working in Hollywood. NYFA was a good transition; we obtained a lot of practical experience and met a lot of collaborators who we continue to work with after graduation,” said Zima.

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  • Roskino Talks Russian Cinema at NYFA LA

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    On Friday, October 28, 2016, New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus hosted Roskino, a Russian-based organization that works alongside the government to promote an international image of Russian cinema. With the goal of Hollywood level production, combined with Russian storytelling, Roskino is the only company of its kind in Russia.

    roskino

    Roskino showcased two of Russia’s strongest films; a short film titled The Boy, and a historically based feature, The Duelist. The Duelist was shot entirely in St. Petersburg. Writer/ Director, Vlad Kozlov, and actor, Petr Fedorov, were in attendance to speak with students about their work.

    One student asked Fedorov what he looks for in a director. Federov replied, “They need to know what they want, and they shouldn’t be afraid of me.”

    A NYFA alumnus wanted to know how much of historic St. Petersburg was actually on screen. “We had some computer graphics, but most of what you’re seeing is real,” Fedorov explained. In the film, the streets are caked in layers of mud. Dirt was brought in by the truckload and watered down once it reached set. Horses were brought in and allowed to wander the set and make it to their home.

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    “It’s one thing when the actor is trying to imagine. It’s another thing when it’s all there,” Fedorov continued. “Actors should respect the work that happens before they get to set. You are responsible for every frame.”

    The conversation shifted to the hope for the future of Russian cinema. Kozlov said, “I hope, in the future, Russian films will be shown all over the world. It will happen soon and we will be the best.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Petr Fedorov, Vlad Kozlov, and all the hands at Roskino who made this event possible. The Duelist will be released in select theaters on December 2, 2016. If you’d like to learn more about the films of Russia you can follow Roskino here.

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    November 4, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 5001

  • New York Film Academy Open House in Moscow

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    Recently, the New York Film Academy held an Open House in the heart of Moscow. Close to one hundred people attended the event to learn more about NYFA programs. Prospective students had an opportunity to meet NYFA admissions representatives and alumni, who have achieved a lot of success in the professional field, including executive producer of TV channel “Success” Guram Gabunia, independent filmmaker Costa Fam, producer Andrei Kim, director Anna Lobanova, and documentary filmmaker/TV-host Leyla Agirbova.

    At the beginning of the event, admissions representatives, Olga Mescheryakova and Elena Kulikova, spoke about the variety of programs NYFA has to offer in the United States, Australia and Europe, answered questions about upcoming Moscow Workshops, and went over details of admissions requirements.

    We are very happy that a number of former NYFA Moscow students came to speak and share their stories with the audience. This mini reunion did indeed become the best part of the evening. Loads of warm memories were brought up, which filled the room with inspiring vibes.

    moscow nyfa

    Director Anna Lobanova, who finished a 4-Week Screenwriting NYFA Program in Moscow, said that it gave her a better understanding of a screenwriters’ work and she now uses that understanding to develop a better director/screenwriter relationship. At the moment, Anna Lobanova is, as a director, finishing a new series for the main Russian TV-channel and co-writing a feature script with former NYFA classmate, Ekaterina Mazo.

    Author, and TV Host, Leyla Agirbova, who attended a 2012 Screenwriting Workshop with Paul Brown said, “In those two weeks I’ve got unforgettable experience. There is nothing more valuable than a human emotion and there is nothing more valuable than the energy that motivates you, stimulates you, sets the pace, and I got all of it at NYFA.”

    Currently, Leyla Agirbova not only continues to successfully develop her career in film and television, but also plans to launch her own business project using her pitching skills to attract investors.

    There was a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere during the evening. Our grads were able to spread around their positivity, passion for the profession and love for NYFA. One of the open house guests, an actor, Aleksey Bogdanov, said that it was very inspiring to hear stories of former students and learn about the changes that have occurred in their careers.

    nyfa moscow

    A pleasant surprise for all was the Skype chat with New York Film Academy Los Angeles instructors, Lydia Cedrone and Paul Brown, who will visit Moscow at the end of October with intensive weekend Screenwriting and Producing Workshops. Also, the Director of the Academy, Dan Mackler, joined the conversation and spoke with the audience in fluent Russian, which was met with a storm of applause!

    “It was nice to meet instructors and Director of the Academy via Skype, to see their faces. It gave me even more motivation and hope for the future,” said Alla Volodkina, who recently got enrolled into an 8-Week Screenwriting Program in NYFA Los Angeles.

    We would like to thank everyone who came to the Open House. New York Film Academy is very proud of all our graduates and look forward meeting new students. See you soon!

    Moscow Weekend Workshop dates are Saturday, October 22 and Sunday, October 23, with an Orientation on Friday evening, October 21. 
You can apply here.

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    October 4, 2016 • Community Highlights, Road Show • Views: 5346

  • NYFA Awards “The King of Judo” at Moscow Pitch Fest

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    The Youth Center of the Union of Cinematographers of the Russian Federation held its eighth Pitch Fest for Debutants as part of the 38th Moscow International Film Festival on June 21-22. Over the years, more than 2,000 young filmmakers, from leading art universities and film schools, have attended the Pitch Fest and about 20 of their films have been produced.

    moscow pitch fest

    This year 686 projects were submitted for consideration (289 – short films, 236 – features, 124 – TV series, and 37 – documentaries) and 10 from each category were chosen for the final Pitch Fest. Young filmmakers had an opportunity to present their ideas to an expert jury consisting of professionals in the field of film and television.

    And we are happy to announce that a special prize from the New York Film Academy—a One Week Workshop Certificate in any subject—was awarded to professional journalist and aspiring screenwriter Alexey Khodorych for his television project, The King of Judo.

    The King of Judo is a family mini-series adaptation of the eponymous story by Albert Ivanov. This is a story of growing up, which explores the theme of the manifestation of evil in man rising.

    Coincidently, Alexey Khodorych had a previous encounter with the New York Film Academy. In 2008 he interviewed NYFA Instructor an award-winning writer, director and producer, Paul Brown, for a major Russian newspaper, Kommersant. At the time, Paul Brown who worked on such series as The X-Files, Quantum Leap, The New Twilight Zone, Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise, was visiting Moscow with NYFA for a hands-on workshop. Now Aleksey can come to Los Angeles to continue their old conversation while learning new crafts and gaining new skills.

    We hope to see Alexey Khodorych among our students soon! And we also would like to wish the best of luck to all the Debutant Pitch Fest participants in their careers! Believe, dare, do!

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    July 6, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 5051

  • New York Film Academy High School Camp Grad Spotlight: Oksana Kuzychenko

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    Two-time champion of the Russian National Hip-Hop Dancing Championship among junior teams, Oksana Kuzychenko, has always wanted to dedicate her life to the preforming and visual arts. In her early childhood she took dancing and singing classes and lately she discovered her new passion for photography. Last summer Oksana spent 4 weeks in Los Angeles learning Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy High School Camp.

    high school summer camp

    Recently, we spoke with Oksana to catch up on her life after NYFA summer camp.

    Can you please share with us what you’ve been up to since graduating from our summer program?

    Currently, I’m finishing my senior year of high school, teaching stretching classes, and dancing. Last December our team won junior league in the Cheer-Hip-Hop Competition at the International Forum of Contemporary Dance and Cheersport. At the same competition, my sister and I took second place among junior duos.

    Also, in May, our team finished fifth at the 13th World Dance Olympiad in the “Teams Show” category among adults. For us it is a great achievement, because we moved into the adult league only last year and had to compete against teams who have danced in the adult league for more than 3-5 years.

    Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of your dancing performances?

    It helped me to become less shy and fearless. Now, when I perform on stage, I feel more confident. Also, when I teach stretching I use breathing exercises, which we practiced in my NYFA Voice & Movement class.

    In addition, I learned at NYFA how to make short videos and now I often film different school events.

    What was most memorable about your time at NYFA?

    Acting in short student films on the Universal Studios backlot. Never in my life have I been so close to the real world of cinema.

    Did you have any favorite instructors?

    Andrew Bloch! He is very kind, cheerful and thoughtful. He cared about every single student and constantly encouraged us. My English wasn’t very good at that time and Andrew Bloch treated me with understanding and support.

    In the future, do you plan on building a professional career in dancing or is it something you consider more of a hobby?

    Since childhood, my dream was to become an actress—act in the theatre and movies. And of course, as an actress, it is a huge plus to be flexible and rhythmic. But if my acting dream does not come true, I will open my own dance school and will raise new champions!

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  • A Talk with Fulbright Scholar Elena Kulikova

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    Many young people who are dreaming of being able to enroll in a higher education institution in the United States often give up this idea because of high tuition costs. But for those who really want to achieve their goals, the financial barrier is not an issue.

    Today we spoke with New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) graduate student, Elena Kulikova, whose story is truly fascinating and inspiring. In 2008, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship that completely covered her two-year master’s degree tuition at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus, as well as living and traveling expenses.

    Elena KulikovaElena, how did your Fulbright Scholarship come about?

    I really love studying, in general. I need constant development, constant stimulus, and training is the best motivator. Previously, I had received my degrees from Lomonosov Moscow State University and VGIK, and I then wanted to get my Masters Degree abroad.

    At that time, I was working with a wonderful film producer Roman Borisevich. We attended various international festivals and film markets together and I realized that I want to study co-production — an area of filmmaking that wasn’t widely known, and taught in Russia at that time.

    Visual Arts education in the United States was a natural logical solution, but I could not afford it financially, and began to look for grants options. As a result, I learned about the Fulbright program, which is on a competitive basis, providing grants for education, research, and training in any US university for citizens of Russia and many other countries.

    Can you describe the competition process?

    The first step required submitting translated diploma of higher education, two letters of recommendation, two motivational essay (personal statement, study objective), as well as to pass the pre-TOEFL test. Then I passed the TOEFL iBT and GRE General official exams. The final step was the interview.

    Who conducts the interview and what questions should candidates be prepared for?

    Every interview begins with a self-presentation. This part should be prepared in advance. Preparation will give you self-confidence, which is very important. The members of the Commission are teachers from different US universities participating in the Fulbright program. There might be representatives of Harvard, the University of Utah, professors from Texas, etc. But this does not mean that you go to those universities. Their goal is to assess your motivation to study in the chosen area, see if you have “sparkling eyes,” that your English is good and academic goals are serious.

    You should keep in mind that Fulbright provides scholarship for more than 40 disciplines. And the commission chooses one or two candidates from each field. I can’t tell exactly how many applications were in my stream, but at the first stage, we were told that there are 10 candidates for one spot.

    Be confident, positive, friendly and prepare a few questions to the Commission. Ask them for advice. Keep the dialogue.

    Tell us about your interview experience?

    This is a very funny story. A specific time of the interview was scheduled for each candidate. Of course I was very nervous, because it was the final step. When I entered into the room and saw six American teachers, my heart dropped down.

    They asked me to introduce myself and talk about my education and work experience. I was prepared for this question and spoke enthusiastically about how lucky I was to study in two of the best Russian Universities, and how grateful I am to my destiny.

    Suddenly, the professors started talking to each other, and then one of them interrupted me. He asked me to wait outside because of “technical issues.”

    I did not understand anything, but went out obediently, thinking I had failed.

    Ten minutes later, I was invited back and explained that there was confusion with my documents. Instead of my portfolio they had documents of another Elena Kulikova from Tula (also a member of the competition), who studied the biology of invertebrates.

    The professors apologized and asked me to come for a new interview the next day. We laughed together, and next day I wasn’t scared anymore. The professors seemed almost like family.

    How did you prepare for the TOEFL and GRE exams?

    I did it on my own and most of my energy was spent for GRE preparation. This exam is more difficult. In addition to language skills it required a refresher in algebra and geometry memory. Even if it’s just a high school level, it’s been 10 years since I graduated the school. After all, my GRE result was “passing,” but with the TOEFL I “flunked” the speaking section.

    I did not have enough time to formulate my thoughts. The timer counted five seconds, and I fell into a stupor. Due to the low results in this section my overall score went down. Instead of the required 100 I scored 97.

    I would advise students who are planning to apply to try several times before the exam to pass the training tests (from books or online) and watch video tutorials on the passage of each section (a lot of them are on YouTube), to avoid the situation that happened to me.

    Any tips for recommendation letters and motivation essays? What should you pay attention to?

    Letters of recommendation have to be written by teachers (who know the academic performance of the candidate), or colleagues, including managers from work. They should really know you and your abilities very well.

    Motivation letter: Try to imagine your future in three years. What would you like to achieve? Now think about how a Masters Degree from a United States university can help you realize your goals. This should be the main idea of ​​your essay. Describe your experience up to date. What achievements have you already made? At the end, add about how you plan to apply the knowledge when you return to Russia.

     

    Kulikova Elena

    Please share with us the most vivid memories of studying producing at NYFA. 

    At the New York Film Academy I started adding practical skills and techniques to the theory background I had and I was able to produce more than 10 projects in two years.

    Most of them were short films for students from the Filmmaking Department, but still it was a major operation, which required my producer’s knowledge to count the number of shooting days and break down a budget on paper. We received official permission to shoot along with major production companies in Film LA, scouted locations, organized and conducted auditions, signed contracts with actors and crew, and organized catering. In short, with each new project I was gaining new real producing experience.

    In particular, I would like to mention the Head Producer of the program – Lydia Cedrone. She is an incredibly strong woman and an excellent professional. She knows how to motivate and is always ready to work with each student who needs her advice or consultation. We have developed wonderful friendships.

    Also, my favorite NYFA instructor became Brian Udovich, who led the NYFA Industry “Pitching” course. Being an extremely shy person by nature, I was shaking like a leaf. He coached us how to speak in front of an audience. But the adrenaline from his lessons, plus the practical tips and friendly atmosphere, made me free from the fear of public speaking. Now I am happy and completely free to participate in the pitches and give presentations and provide lectures.

    Also, I’ve never thought that, as a producer, I can independently write a full-length screenplay. NYFA proved to me that it is possible! During training, I wrote two features and a pilot for a television series in English. My thanks goes to Sharon Hoffman for her patience, professional comments, edits, as well as the delicious brownies that she fed the exhausted students who were not sleeping night after night writing the next 20 pages of their script.

    What were some of your achievements while studying in the US?

    It is difficult to write about the achievements. Rather, I have received a huge number of possibilities: the ability to learn from real professionals working in Los Angeles; the ability to have trained in the production company of Mark Cuban (“Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Road,” “Jacket”); the ability to live in the heart of the film industry and attend guest speakers events with Steven Spielberg, Janusz Kaminski, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, and J.J. Abrams; attend screening previews of films and join meetings with writers and directors nominated for an Oscar. Additionally, I worked as a volunteer at the AFI Festival.

    How do you motivate yourself?

    I just believe in my dreams. In fact, if you really want something, everything in life is possible.

    What helps you make the right decision in difficult situations?

    Confidence in my beliefs, colleagues support, and experience.

    Where do you see yourself in ten years?

    I prefer not to build plans for a career. I prefer harmony in my personal and professional life. Only then do I feel happy and full of energy for the realization of the boldest creative ideas. If something starts to outweigh—work or family—the problems begin. The only thing I’m sure about the future: I will keep studying and I would like to get a PhD.

    In your opinion how in today’s world does the success of a creative person depend on the level of education received?

    In my opinion creative success does not directly depend on the education received. And success itself is generally an ephemeral substance. Like luck. But education makes life more interesting and opens up new horizons, awakens imagination, and gives emotions and experiences that are not available to uneducated people.

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  • NYFA Grad Costa Fam Begins Pre-Production on Final Part of Trilogy “Witnesses”

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    There are no coincidences in life, everything happens for a reason—every action from the past affects the future. When the stars are aligned and the magic is right, it causes sparks and results in something great. Thus, after accidentally meeting the Director of New York Film Academy, Dan Mackler, at a Russian TV-channel, the writer, producer and director, Costa Fam, began a new stage of his career.

    witnesses“At that time I already had a degree in theatre, decent experience in television and wrote several scripts. All I wanted was to make my own movies; even my hands were shaking from this desire. But I couldn’t afford to spend years on a new education at 39, so I was looking for an effective short workshop. After meeting Dan Mackler, I decided to go to the US for the first time, to learn more about the New York Film Academy. I was amazed by the creative, very democratic, down-to-earth atmosphere.”

    Despite the desire to continue an education at NYFA, Costa Fam, due to family and business, couldn’t leave everything and move to America. By a happy coincidence, the New York Film Academy was holding a 13-Week Producing Workshop in Moscow, taught by Lydia Cedrone, Paul Brown and Gilbert Shilton.

    During this course, Fam began working on a global historical project called Witnesses. He was nurturing this idea since his visit to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum where he was struck by a display of thousands of shoes of the concentration camps’ victims.

    “During WWII all of my relatives from my mother’s side were killed, and I always wanted to speak up on that subject.”

    A trilogy, Witnesses, is the first feature film from the former Soviet Union produced in memoriam of the Holocaust victims. Each part of the project provides a whole new unique way to look at the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.

    «Shoes», film tizer. from General & C on Vimeo.

    Shoes (2012) is the opening short of the trilogy. It shows the story from the point of view of a pair of red shoes, which begins in a shop window and tragically ends in a mass grave at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

    “The initial idea of this serious project was born within the walls of NYFA. Paul Brown and Lydia Cedrone advised me in its development. After graduation, I immediately went to Europe, where, during World War II, concentration camps existed and started gathering information for the film.”

    Shoes was critically acclaimed and received a lot of awards from the festival circuit including:

    • Monaco International Film Festival, Angel Film Awards: Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Original Music, Best Producer, Best Cinematographer, Angel Peace Award
    • Grand Prix Video Festival Imperia (Italy)
    • Radiant Angel Festival (Russia), Best Live Action Short Film Award
    • Artkino Festival (Russia), Best Experimental Film Award
    • San Diego Jewish Film Festival, Best Emerging Filmmaker

    The film was also an official contender for Best Short Film at the 2013 Academy Awards. This is the first film to be granted permission from “Auschwitz-Birkenau” to shoot on the museum territory, making this exception for the art project. Also, this short was added to the movie collection of Yad Vashem (Israel), along with outstanding films about the Holocaust by Spielberg, Polanski, and Benigni.

    witnesses movie

    The second part of a trilogy, Brutus, starring Oksana Fandera and Filipp Yankovskiy, tells the story of the Holocaust through the eyes of a German Shepherd named Brutus, who is separated from his beloved mistress. After being separated, he becomes a watchdog at a concentration camp. Brutus is trained and psychologically manipulated at the camp, which turns him from a harmless pet into a vicious killer. The film is based on the eponymous story written by famous Czech writer Ludvik Askenazy.

    Brutus is currently in post-production and is scheduled to premiere in the summer of 2016.

    The world of the third short in the trilogy, Violin, based on a short story, revolves entirely around the unique instrument that has passed through all the horrors of the war. The story begins in a violin shop in Nuremberg, where at the beginning of the 20th century the violin was created as a gift to a Jewish boy. The instrument changed many owners and appeared in various places. Its story ends a hundred years after its creation with a concert at the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem.

    Costa Fam shared with NYFA that the lead character in the third and final part of the trilogy will be played by German actor Lenn Kudrjawizki (The Counterfeiters, Enemy at the Gates, The Transporter Refueled).

    Lenn Kudrjawizki is a real treasure for Costa Fam. In addition to his amazing acting career, Lenn is a wonderful violinist who graduated from music conservatory.

    Actors from previous parts of the trilogy will be involved as well, including Oksana Fandera, Vladimir Koshevoy and Mariya Zykova. Shooting will take place in Russia, Israel, Czech Republic, Poland and Belarus.

    Oksana Fandera and Mariya Zykova on set of Brutus

    Oksana Fandera and Mariya Zykova on set of “Brutus”

    Costa, you have six children, how do you manage to achieve a balance between work and family?

    On the one hand, it is impossible to achieve balance. On the other hand, I am absolutely happy in what I’m doing and I share this happiness with my children. In the end, it’s not the amount of time spent together that affects relationships, but the quality. When I’m with my children, I try to find time for everyone. Often times, I try to be a friend rather than a parent. Also, each of my kids knows that he/she is “my favorite child” and that they can count on me to support them. I think that is the most important feeling for a child to feel about his dad.

    What childhood dreams have you managed to bring to life?

    Most of them: I do what I love. I also really wanted to travel – just in the last year I crossed the ocean over ten times. More interesting is what dreams I failed to realize. When I was a child I naively dreamed that all people on Earth can love one another, and there will be peace throughout the world. Now I understand that this is an impossible dream, but I can take small steps towards it and, by doing my job, build a ladder to the sky.

    costa fam

    Costa Fam with his team on set of “Brutus”

    If you can call the past, what advice would you give your 20 year-old self?

    I can’t say that I regret anything in my life and would like to fix it, but one piece of advice I would give is to learn languages. Particularly English, in my case.

    What advice would you give to our students, aspiring filmmakers?

    Shoot, shoot and shoot! Unfortunately, in the filmmaking business we can’t practice and rehearse like we could in sports and music. Fortunately, now you have an opportunity to shoot on camera or your phone and see the results instantly. Here is some practical advice: choose the scenes from your favorite films, invite aspiring actors (who also need training) and make your own remakes of those scenes. The results will surprise you a lot!

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    March 28, 2016 • Guest Speakers • Views: 5146