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  • Fairytales Come True for BFA Filmmaking Student

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    Cinder Pumpkin

    They say fairytales can come true. Well, for Fi Dieter, fairytales are opening major doors for a bright future in the entertainment industry. The New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking student, of Prince of Arabia Entertainment and Stedica Film, won the prestigious Award of Excellence from The Best Shorts Film Competition, Best Student Film at the 2015 California Women’s Film Festival, Best Student Drama at the 2014 International Family Film Festival at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood, and has been an Official Selection in more than 10 festivals including the prestigious LA Shots Fest, the Playhouse West Film Festival, and the Women’s Director’s International Film Festival in New Dehli, India! The award was given for Dieter’s exciting fairytale adaptation drama short Cinder Pumpkin, which was her Intermediate Thesis Project at NYFA Los Angeles.

    Cinder Pumpkin features an exceptional storyline about a bright, socially-awkward girl named Cinder Ellen James (played by Jacquelynn Camden), who believes the only thing she needs for the gorgeous, unreachable Max (played by Travis Daniel Brown) to fall in love with her is one chance. With the help of her loyal friend Tom (played by Billy McCartney), Cinder is determined to take that chance herself. She trades glasses for a pair of high heels and experiences, for the first time, a world of teenage fantasies that makes her rediscover her value as a woman.

    “This award [Award of Excellence] honors not only the great amount of hard work put into our production, but also the growing voice of female directors,” says Dieter. “Cinder Pumpkin is about staying true to who you are even when the odds are against you, a fundamental lesson for all women who fight for gender equality.”

    Dieter is an award-winning Austrian filmmaker, actress and editor. Fi began acting in theater and commercials from an early age, always on a quest to find truth and depth in all she does.

    “Through my work, I intend to raise the voice of female filmmakers,” says Dieter. “I believe that little specific ‘somethings’ allow for a story to become universal and have the power to touch people. I aim to go beyond what is expected of young women to achieve in filmmaking. There isn’t a feeling I enjoy more than the satisfaction I get from proving there is more to me than what meets the eye.”

    Fi is currently in development on a three-part feature, based on a new take on the origins of Merlin the wizard, entitled Extraordinaire. It is a fantasy comedy with two endearing, magical characters whose major flaw is their inability to work together in times when their unity might make or break a kingdom. Extraordinaire Part One will be her thesis film.

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    January 21, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5233

  • NYFA MFA Screenwriting Alum Sells Thesis Pilot Script to ABC

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    In their second year of study, students in New York Film Academy’s MFA Screenwriting program choose to write either a feature film or a television pilot for their thesis project. While every student hopes to launch their career with a great writing sample, recent graduate Angela Ruhinda (Jan 2011 Screenwriting) took it one step further. Last week, Angela’s thesis pilot, Iman & Andy, sold to ABC with Whoopi Goldberg and Ben Silverman attached as producers.

    Angela Ruhinda

    Angela Ruhinda

    The sitcom is about an interracial couple who are forced to team up on a relationship advice vlog, with their whole office and millions of viewers following their relationship.

    NYFA Associate Screenwriting Chair, Adam Moore caught up with Angela, who is back home in her native Tanzania at the moment, to ask her about the experience.

    Where did the idea for ‘Iman & Andy’ come from?

    Iman & Andy was an idea I came up with during my second and final year at NYFA. I chose the TV option for my thesis because I’ve always wanted to create my own sitcom. I love romantic comedies but it’s not very often that you see a really good one on television anymore. I wanted a really fun couple that people could relate to. I was a big fan of the show ‘Dharma & Greg’ and love the Yin and Yang dynamic of their relationship. I wanted to update the concept by making them inter-racial and involving social media. The main statement I want to make is that online dating in the social media age is awkward, crazy and stressful no matter what color you are. 

    How did the script get from your thesis workshop to Electus?

    I entered the Storyboard TV screenwriting contest in October 2012 and became a finalist by January 2013. I lost the competition by just a few votes but Amanda Krentzman, one of the judges on the panel who happens to work at Electus Productions, loved my script so much she contacted me after the contest was over and expressed interest in selling it to a major network. 

    Did the script change from your thesis draft to the one that eventually sold?

    I sat down with Electus…and I just talked to them about season arcs and characters. They already understood the concept. Pitch workshop [part of Business of Screenwriting 3, a second-year screenwriting course taught by Adam Moore] did help me with my nerves in the room. I was able to speak clearly about my ideas and charm the crap out of them. Electus gave me a few notes on characters and one or two scenes before we decided to send out the script to networks. Thankfully, I only did two re-writes and ABC liked the concept and script enough to buy it as soon as they read it. 

    What’s one piece of advice you’d give to current students?

    Don’t knock screenwriting competitions! They can change your life and kickstart your career!

    How excited are you right now?

    They haven’t created a word yet that describes how I’m feeling!

    Well, there is a word for how we at NYFA are feeling – PROUD. Speaking about their former student, Thesis Advisor Jerry Shandy and Thesis Instructor Eric Nelson had this to say:

    We’re proud of Angela because she worked really hard on this pilot in the Thesis Workshop class. With her workshop mates’ support, she continued to develop her idea, writing and rewriting until it was singing. That’s what we strive to do in screenwriting workshop classes here at NYFA: take a good idea and refine it until it’s a piece of material the writer is proud to take out into the world.

    Congratulations, Angela!

    -Adam Moore

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    December 5, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Diversity, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6171

  • September One Year Filmmakers Preparing to Screen Thesis

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    Pater Familias poster

    Rasmas Roenberg’s thesis film “Pater Familias”

    This is an exciting time of year at the New York Film Academy. All of my September 1-Year filmmakers are preparing to screen their thesis films next week. 6 screenings in 4 days! It should be action packed and exhausting, but well worth the time to watch them all. You never know if one of the hard-working directors will surface with an outstanding project that will launch his or her career. Perhaps among them is the future Chris Nolan, Ang Lee or Kathryn Bigelow?

    If you’ve never been to one of our thesis screenings, it can be quite moving to see the intense bond that has formed among the students and how proud they are of themselves for having come so far in such a short period of time. It’s often amusing to remind them of their first film projects and watch them blush with embarrassment, as they recall how naïve they were when the first arrived and how much more confident and experienced they feel now – ready to take their place in the professional world of filmmaking.

    Baby Steps - Pic for Brochure

    Tomer Sinai’s thesis film “Baby Steps”

    No sooner do we say a fond farewell to those filmmakers than the new class of 1-Year students arrives, wide-eyed, fearful, and hungry for knowledge. How interesting it is to look out at the sea of fresh faces, wondering which among them will be next year’s standouts. There’s nothing like spending an entire year, nurturing and guiding these talented young minds, helping them evolve as visual storytellers. It’s a thrill awaiting the day, 1-year from now, when it will be their turn to screen their thesis films and stand upon the stage to accept their certificates in front of the adulation of a standing-room-only theater.

    Here we go!

    – Claude Kerven, NYFA NYC Filmmaking Chair

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    August 20, 2013 • Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 5116

  • The Power of Pitchfest

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    Pitchfest are events at New York Film Academy are held shortly after graduation for MFA and AFA students in Screenwriting and Producing. A culmination of their studies, graduates pitch their thesis projects, usually a TV pilot or feature screenplay, to television and film professionals. It’s a great opportunity for students to start developing relationships in the industry. About 15 producing students held their event on campus in March, pitching their projects to industry professionals including guests from HBO and Network Television, and even George Gallo, writer of Midnight RunBad Boys, and The Whole Ten Yards. Twelve screenwriting students held their event at West Hollywood’s luxurious Andaz Hotel. By the end of the evening, each student had pitched to about 20 companies.

    Since the event, a number of students from both departments have gotten interest from companies. Congratulations to our recent Screenwriting and Producing graduates!

    NYFA PitchFest

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    April 5, 2012 • Acting, Producing, Screenwriting • Views: 4432