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  • HBO Announces NYFA Instructor Lanre Olabisi as 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellowship Recipient

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    At New York Film Academy (NYFA), our distinguished faculty not only have years of experience in the film industry, but they also remain active creators. NYFA is proud to announce that Screenwriting, Directing, and Acting for Directors instructor, Lanre Olabisi, was recently announced as a recipient of the 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellowship

    Lanre Olabisi first got involved in filmmaking after a screenwriting class he took at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. “That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker,” he remembers. Since then, Olabisi decided to make films where the focus is always centered on unique and poignant messages that challenge individual and collective views on a variety of topics. Some of his feature films include August the First and Somewhere in the Middle (Both distributed by Film Movement on all major platforms in North America).

    NYFA Instructor Lanre Olabisi

    August the First played at over 35 film festivals, including South by Southwest (SXSW) and Karlovy Vary. It also won the top prize at seven festivals and was nominated for an IFP Gotham Award. “This film encapsulates my continuing commitment to move beyond stereotypes of African-American families and depict an honest portrait during a difficult time sans gangs, guns, and violence,” shares Olabisi. 

    His other feature film, Somewhere in the Middle played at over 25 festivals and was nominated for a Black Reel Award. “This film expanded my vision as I examined romantic relationships within New York City – full of people of all backgrounds: African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian, heterosexual, bisexual, and gay.” 

    As a recipient of the HBOAccess Directing Fellowship, a biennial program designed to foster diverse directing talent, it will mean more industry exposure for Olabisi’s upcoming projects, including his upcoming short film, A Storybook Ending, set to premiere in the summer of 2020. 

    Olabisi, who wrote, produced, and directed A Storybook Ending, also collaborated with NYFA Cinematography Chair, Pierro Basso, who served as the DP (Director of Photography) for the film. A Storybook Ending explores contemporary race relations in the United States through the lens of a dark comedy, crime thriller. “While, in many ways, it is a complete departure of my previous work, it is in line squarely with my mission as a filmmaker; to show people of color in ways that we have not seen them portrayed on film,” says Olabisi. “A Storybook Ending draws upon the stylized visual touches of neo-noir cinema while avoiding the stylized acting that often accompanies such films.”


    The short film was recently selected as a finalist for the
    2020 American Black Film Festival’s Annual HBO Short Film Competition and was inspired by the 2015 incident involving former African-American tennis champion, James Blake. “For no apparent reason and without ever announcing his presence, a plainclothes police officer violently tackled Mr. Blake to the ground as he was waiting for a car to pick him up for the U.S. Open tennis tournament,” recounts Olabisi. “This film [A Storybook Ending] is intended to challenge assumptions about race and class.”

    While Hollywood continues to grapple with the conversation surrounding diversity and representation across the industry, Olabisi has this to say: “Fund stories by people of color. Hire people of color to be in the writers rooms, to be on sets, to direct the shows, to shoot the shows. Have a diverse crew. Have people of color in positions of power that are able to green light shows. Right now 95% of the people who decide what we see on television are white. I think the answers are simple – we just need to see a willingness to change on the part of the industry.”

    When it comes to himself as a creative, Olabisi shares that there is always a truth or experience that is woven into all of his films, which comes from his own experience. “All my films have an element of myself in it in some way. It isn’t always apparent to people, but it usually is for those who know me well.”

    ‘A Storybook Ending’ (Dir. Lanre Olabisi)

    Other influences throughout Olabisi’s career include some of his favorite creatives like Stephen Soderberg, Ryan Coogler, Steve McQueen, Ava Duvernay, Oscar Micheaux, Alfonso Curón, and Vince Gilligan. He also notes some of his favorite films that are worth a watch, including: The Silence of the Lambs, Moonlight, City of God, Trainspotting, and Get Out. 

    As for advice to students and aspiring filmmakers, Olabisi has this to say:

    Never give up. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Too many times I see actors and filmmakers who give it a year or two and then give up on their dreams. If you decide that this is not for you and you don’t want to do it anymore – there is nothing wrong with that and nothing to be ashamed of. Find what you love to do and do it. However, if you do find that this is what you love to do – this is your calling – then you should continue to push forward no matter how long it takes you. Things will open up, but you have to be patient and make sure you are working to improve your craft every single day.”

    ‘A Storybook Ending’ (Dir. Lanre Olabisi)

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA instructor Lanre Olabisi on becoming a 2020 HBOAccess Directing Fellow and for his film, A Storybook Ending, being selected as a finalist in the 2020 American Black Film Festival’s Annual HBO Short Film Competition.

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    July 9, 2020 • Faculty Highlights, Filmmaking, Producing • Views: 848

  • New York Film Academy Instructor Joe Burke Releases Another Cancer Movie Indie Short

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    For many passionate filmmakers, one of the greatest challenges is bringing a film to life in spite of budgeting hurdles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Directing instructor Joe Burke recently set a great example with how to execute a clear, enteratining, artistic vision on a shoestring budget with his newly released comedy, Another Cancer Movie. Check out his film, and his insights on indie production for NYFA students, below.

    ANOTHER CANCER MOVIE from Joe Burke on Vimeo.

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

    JB: I started out making films at a very early age. I was eight years old when I first picked up the camera, and I haven’t put it down since. I studied film and acting all growing up, and eventually went to film school in Chicago, followed by grad school at the American Film Institute in LA. Once my career began to start growing after grad school, I found myself getting to a point where I really missed the film school setting. Hollywood can be a crazy place, and a lot of the “business” side of things can unfortunately interfere with the artistic side, and it can be very frustrating. It’s very easy to lose yourself in it all. For me, it was very important to reconnect to the fundamentals of why I really wanted to be a filmmaker, to reconnect to the actual craft and art of it all. I decided to pause on my career for a moment, and shift my energy back to film school. I love being in the classroom, both as a student and as a teacher.

    I was thrilled to join the NYFA staff and teach Directing. I love teaching. I love making films. I love inspiring my students, and even more so, being inspired by them.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments or memories from your time teaching with us?

    JB: I am very proud of the students I have taught. I have come across many talented young filmmakers who I see very bright futures for: it’s always inspiring to witness. I have found myself many times taken aback by the power of some of my students’ work. Those are my favorite memories.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most? What kind of stories are you most passionate to tell?

    JB: I love telling stories on film. For me, it’s all about capturing the heart and sole of people, of characters. To shed a light on both the drama and natural comedy that exists in all our lives. I love human stories that are grounded and relatable. I love making an audience truly feel something. I naturally lean towards humor, because I think a strong sense of humor is so important in life — but it has to come from an honest place. That’s why it’s funny; because it’s true.

    NYFA: For our students interested in making their own shorts outside of school, what is your best advice about producing on a shoestring indie budget?

    JB: My best advice would be write a film around a location that you can shoot at for free. If you have a location(s) you know you are able to shoot at, write your movie with that in mind. It’s what we did with Another Cancer Movie, as well as what I have done with many of my films — including our last one, House Sitting, and even my first feature Four Dogs.

    Also, find friends you like to work with and trust. Build your community of people who will be there for you, and work for you because they believe in what you’re doing. Don’t feel the need to pay everyone the big bucks early on. Work with people who understand you have a tight budget, just make sure to feed them well! Great food on set goes a very long way. And of course, keep a very positive and fun energy on set. As the filmmaker, you must set the tone on set to keep everyone in good spirits. It’s a team effort, but the director is the leader.

    NYFA: What’s next for Another Cancer Movie?

    JB: Another Cancer Movie just had its world premiere online. We’re stoked to finally be releasing it. This is a very personal movie to us, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any other projects upcoming you can tell us about?

    JB: Right now, the big focus is developing a TV show with a buddy of mine. I can’t talk too much about it at the moment, but it’s an exciting project for us. I am also working on a couple of other screenplays, and acting in a few fun projects as well.

    Thank you so much for having me be a part of this. For those folks who would like to keep up with what I am doing, they can find me on Instagram/Twitter @joeburkefilm and my website joeburke.net

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  • Filmmaking Students from NYFA Gold Coast Impress Audience

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    The audience at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Campus Mid Year Screening got a double dose of talent on October 13, viewing projects from both its July 2017 Advanced Filmmakers and July 2017 Diploma Filmmakers.

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    The Advanced Filmmaking students showed off their skill in producing television commercials while the Diploma Filmmaking students showcased a diverse range of non-sync short films.

    “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight,” remarked Brian Vining, the Deputy Chair of Filmmaking at NYFA Gold Coast. He continued, “We are extremely proud of the work that our Advanced filmmakers have showcased tonight. Many of the television commercials have been conceived, shot and produced to a very high standard and several were indistinguishable from industry standard productions.”

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    NYFA Gold Coast prides itself in training our students in several diverse media, in order to better prepare them for careers in the real world workforce. But, of course, storytelling is just as important, and the Diploma Filmmaking students didn’t disappoint with their artful short films.

    Trevor Hawkins, Lecturer in Directing, Editing & Filmmaking for NYFA Gold Coast, had this to say about the July 2017 group: “There are certainly some promising young storytellers and filmmakers evident in our recent screenings of the July Advanced Filmmakers and the July Diploma Filmmakers.”

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

    The screening was all the more successful considering it’s just the halfway point in the students’ syllabus. Hawkins added, “It’s always great to be involved in their journey as filmmakers and I certainly look forward to their future productions.”

    Congratulations to our NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking and Advanced Filmmaking students on such a triumphant night!

    NYFA Gold Coast July 2017 Advanced Filmmaking and July 2017 Diploma Filmmaking Mid Year Screening

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    October 17, 2017 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2233

  • NYFA Representing at Cannes Short Film Corner

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    cannes 2015This year, we have a number of filmmakers representing the New York Film Academy at the Cannes Film Festival. These students and alumni have the incredible opportunity of networking and screening their short films at the Cannes Short Film Corner, which offers industry meets, workshops and conferences that deal with strategic issues.

    Our filmmakers benefit from all the advantages of being a Festival de Cannes accredited attendee, from being able to access the Marché du Film exhibitors or those in the Village International. With the festival officially underway, we’ve been hearing from a number of NYFA filmmakers!

    Below is a list of some of these students and their films. We want to wish them all the best of luck in showcasing their films at Cannes!

    francesco mazza

    Francesco Mazza at Cannes

    Francesco Mazza, Frankie

    Richard Selvi, Datin’ Marvin

    Diego Londono, Medley

    Denis Kulikov, Nadezhda

    Ilya Rozhkov, Sabre Dance

    Aditya Patwardhan, Red House by the Crossroads

    Luis Christian Dilorenzi, Sináptica

    Shantal Freedman, Ticketed

    Raquel Bordin, Tip Toe

    Ricardo Lopez-Franco, Binary Stars

    Gabe Chavez, More than Words

    Victor Olea, The Miracle Archives

    Kai Lu, The Cost of Love

     

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    May 19, 2015 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5881

  • NYFA Documentary Adviser Editor on Oscar Winning ‘Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1’

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    Crisis Hotline

    Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1 has won this years Documentary Short Subject Oscar. The film’s editor Geof Bartz, is also New York Film Academy’s Documentary Curriculum Adviser and Master Class Professor.

    Crisis Hotline: Veteran’s Press 1, which won the Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, was edited by Geof Bartz, New York Film Academy’s Documentary Curriculum Adviser, Master Class Professor and Supervising Editor in HBO’s Documentary Department. This is Bartz’ third Oscar win from a total of 5 nominations over the years.

    Crisis Hotline is a touching 40-minute documentary, condensed from 100 hours of footage of VA’s suicide hotline call center, located in Canandaigua, New York. The documentary delves into the deep compassion, emotions and stresses call center operators endure when working daily to help and save suicidal veterans. Many of these operators are in fact veterans themselves, military family members and former service members.

    Nearly every hour, a veteran takes his or her own life. The film brings much needed attention to this issue and other challenges veterans (and their families) face when returning to civilian life.

    “We are hopeful this documentary will help raise awareness of this important issue with the American public,” VA Secretary Robert McDonald said.

    Producers Dana Perry and Ellen Goosenberg Kent went on-stage to accept their aware, with Perry dedicating the film to her son Evan who died at age 15 in 2005.

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  • Producing an Award-Winning Film on a Budget

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    andrey trevgoda

    photo by Pasha Kalachev

    One of the more celebrated thesis films from the New York Film Academy was Andrey Trevgoda‘s, The Bicycle. The short film, which was beautifully shot, screened at a number of film festivals around the world and won Best Narrative Short Film at the Beijing Student Film Festival.

    The story is a satirical adventure of a rusted old bicycle, neglected on the dark staircase by its owner, which becomes stolen by a petty young thief only to set off a series of unfortunate incidents as the bicycle passes from one eager hand to another, raising hopes and thwarting dreams of its fleeting new owners.

    In The Bicycle, Andrey set out to create a visually compelling story with a unique look and style. During production, Andrey faced many adversities due to the weather conditions, small budget, and scheduling issues with his crew. Despite the challenges, Andrey and his producer, along with help from NYFA’s equipment room heads, were able to finish what became an award-winning student film.

    “Andrey approaches cinema with a singular passion and persistence in pursuit of perfection,” said NYFA Directing Instructor Paul Warner. “His unconventional approach to visual storytelling as well as production methods has often yielded compelling outcomes, as in the case of The Bicycle.”

    From a young age, Andrey had a passion for drawing and shooting videos with his friends. After getting his degree in visual communication in Moscow, he moved to New York to study filmmaking at NYFA’s 2 year conservatory program in New York City.

    “By the end of my second year, things became a little more clear to me,” said Andrey. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I was going to approach it in terms of film language.”

    Since graduating from NYFA, Andrey has been working as a freelance director and cinematographer. Thus far, he’s worked on music videos for such artists as Jordan Laz, Locksley, Detsl aka LeTruk.

    To get a glimpse of Andrey’s work, have a look at his trailer for The Bicycle!

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    November 24, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5488

  • Passenger Bar Short Film Competition

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    passenger bar

    We’ve stumbled across a terrific opportunity for our New York City filmmaking students, especially those who are living in Brooklyn. Starting November 10th, Passenger Bar in Williamsburg, will be running monthly movie/short film competition nights to screen short independent films and music videos created by local artists and students.

    They’re aiming to have 6-10 shorts a night to screen, per week, and the best shorts of the night can win prizes!

    The first screening night is Monday, November 10th, so students are asked to submit their films by November 8th.

    Interested student filmmakers should email a YouTube or Vimeo link of his or her short to PassengerBar@gmail.com for consideration.

    Students will then need to bring the .mov file, nothing too large, for viewing the night of the event.

    You can also view the Facebook event link here.

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    October 9, 2014 • Contests, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 6097

  • Finding Luck With ‘The Lucky One’

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    Filmmaker Bala Balakrishnan graduated from New York Film Academy in 2010. Shortly after graduation, he wrote, produced, and directed a short film called The Lucky One. It made the festival rounds in 2012, and proved to be a hit, winning 8 awards in competitions across the nation.

    Bala works as a software engineer during the day. Like many people with day jobs, he decided an Evening Filmmaking program would work best with his busy schedule. “I was always interested in film,” says Bala. “After I had my second kid, I said, ‘I don’t want to be sitting in front of a computer all the time.’ It was my childhood desire to tell stories. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll go take a class.’ I invested and it paid off.”

    He began commuting to New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus from nearby Orange County. As he puts it, “You start from the beginning, and get hands-on experience.” The Evening Filmmaking program covers writing, directing, cinematography, and editing – all the building blocks for getting started in filmmaking.

    After graduation, Bala decided to start work on a short film. Working around his day job, he wrote a story about a young boy whose parents would rather spend time on their iPhones than taking care of their child. Like many filmmakers these days, he turned to Indiegogo to fund his 18-minute short film. Bala started production in the summer of 2011, working with a number of his New York Film Academy classmates.

    Since its completion, The Lucky One has played numerous festivals across the nation, and just won its eighth award last week at the California Film Awards. Bala Balakrishnan is currently working with a screenwriter for a feature length action thriller, in addition to two other feature length scripts.

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