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  • Raising Suicide Prevention Awareness & Challenging Stigma With New York Film Academy Camp Alum Florence Kosky

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    Creating a film that works as a beautiful piece of art as well as a platform for an incredibly important message is a challenge, even for the most seasoned filmmakers. Yet at a very young age, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film summer camp alum and British actress/model/director Florence Kosky has brought all these elements together in her short film All The World’s a Stage.

    Motivated by the profound loss of three young friends to suicide, Florence decided to collaborate with others to “do something positive” to help “break down the stigma around suicide by provoking thought and opening up a conversation.” Through crowdfunding, she assembled what she would need to put together a visually stunning film on a shoestring budget, and in the process built an incredible team of passionate professionals who volunteered their time for a cause they believed in: raising awareness and, hopefully, saving lives. Even Olivia Colman volunteered to narrate, lending her distinct voice to a script approved by MIND and supported by the Mental Health Foundation.

    Watch All The World’s a Stage here:

    A Message from NYFA Counseling:

    This beautiful and powerful piece really portrays the distorted thinking that accompanies depression well. The main character’s belief that he has to perform and come across in a specific way in order to be loved and appreciated is a thinking trap that people struggling with depression often face. It’s incredibly difficult to have the energy and persistence to get help: often the very things that we need when we’re feeling that way are exactly what depression tells us we don’t deserve. We hope that people take away that needing support, and then getting it, is something we all deserve; that mental health IS health; and that, as a society, we can all support a change to address the stigma that depression is a weakness — and as a result, save lives.

    U.S. Resources:

    NYFA New York City Counseling Website

    NYFA Los Angeles Counseling Website

    Crisis Text Line: https://www.crisistextline.org/

    Text TALK to 741741

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

    1 (800) 273-8255 (TALK)

    Here, Florence shares the process and inspiration behind a truly powerful film with the NYFA Blog:

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to the NYFA Acting for Film camp?

    FK: I’m a model, actress, and filmmaker from Dorset in England. I’m now 22 and so far have got three short films under my belt as a director and two indie features as an actress. As a model I’ve worked internationally for the past five years, working for brands from Adidas to Dior. It’s pretty busy, but very fulfilling!

    I came to NYFA when I was 16, and it was because I had always loved acting and film but had never experienced the two of them together, and we couldn’t really find anywhere better than LA to go for me to do this!

    NYFA: What inspires you most about acting and film?

    FK: I think I find acting and film so inspiring because it’s an art form that is really easy for the consumer to relate to and to be moved by. To me it’s wonderful because even if the director or the actor intends one thing, the viewer can take something else from it, and that is wonderful because it gives it a universal quality.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience making All The World’s a Stage?

    FK: Making All The World’s A Stage was pretty special because it was crowdfunded, and the whole cast and crew volunteered; so it felt like there was a real cause that everyone was rallied behind and cared about. That gave the experience this really lovely focused feeling, because everyone was working their hardest to make it the best it could be because they thought it was a story that needed to be told, rather than just a job they were being paid to do.

    I found this really moving, and it made me feel very supported throughout. I think you can see in the final product that it was made by people who really cared.

    NYFA: What was it like to put the story together and shoot the film? Were there any challenges along the way in making your film, and how did you overcome them?

    FK: The story was already in place, as the script is based on a poem that my friend, Charlie Fox, wrote when we were 17 and lost a mutual friend to suicide. Her words have stuck with me since, and they really painted a picture in my mind. For the narrative, it was just a case of relaying those visuals back into words.

    I think the biggest challenge we faced was that, generally, I want to create fantastic worlds that, if they were on a bigger production, would use a lot of VFX. So it was working out how to create those same feelings on a much smaller budget.

    We used a lot of stylized lighting in an empty studio to create mood shifts and different locations — my favourite of which is the night sky in the bedroom scene, because we just used a projector and some footage we bought for around £30 from Shutterstock which is A LOT cheaper than VFX — and actually a couple of people have asked me who did the VFX for that scene, so that was really the best outcome!

    NYFA: You used crowdfunding to support this film production, and worked with MIND, the Mental Health Foundation, and Olivia Colman. That is huge! What surprised you most about that experience?

    FK: Thank you! I think the most surprising thing was that Olivia wanted to be a part of it! I and my producer, Matt Cook, had always had her [in mind] as one of our ideal voices for the narrator. So when we were coming to the end of post production, we thought we might as well try to reach out to her agent and see if she’d be interested. We sent the picture lock and the score and, incredibly, she was! I am so grateful to have worked with one of my heroes so early on in my career — it was honestly wonderful to see a master of their craft work, and I think the film would be a lot less powerful without her voice.

    NYFA: What would you most like to say to your audience about your film, and what it means?

    FK: I would just like to say thank you for watching, and if you can take anything from it, please remember that depression and mental illness can happen to anyone, no matter how perfect their lives look on the outside. Remember to be kind and to look after each other, as you never know what someone is battling with. At the end of the day, we are all each other have.

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    FK: I’ve got another feature that I’m shooting as an actress this summer, which is very exciting! It’s a comedy mockumentary which is going to be super fun and nice to balance out the heaviness of my recent projects. I’m also working on the script for my first feature as a director, which hopefully should go into production next year. Keep an eye out!

    #KeepYourCrown

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  • Good Morning Connecticut, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Cannes From the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    So another week, and another item about Snapchat … No, I am not obsessed with the digital platform. But if you look at the image below, you’ll notice that a wide range of content publishers are.
    As reported by Digiday, Snap — the parent company of Snapchat — has hired veteran digital executive Sarah Gallagher to coordinate communication between Snapchat and the growing number of news and non-fiction content creators that rely on the digital distribution service. Why are major legacy media outlets anxious to distribute their content via Snapchat? Because people my age watch TV, and people your age (well, the age of the majority of people reading this) use apps.
    At NYFA, we offer a skills-based Broadcast Journalism program because there are certain key skills you need to know in a world that includes both broadcasting and narrowcasting.
    Traffic is moving in the other direction as well, with well-known broadcast outlets searching out digital content. Vice is the preeminent digital platform for edgy non-fiction. Begun as a free arts magazine in Toronto, the now USD $8+ billion production powerhouse cut a deal with Channel 4 in the UK. Channel 4 has a reputation for cutting-edge non-fiction programming, and this alliance allows them to build their brand (and their on-demand video service), without the expenses associated with original production.
    Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is a lot of time to fill. And, as one of my former colleagues once put it, “every dream has its budget.”
    I heard from NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Alyssa Taglia on Thursday. Last year around this time, she was a student. Now, she is the morning traffic reporter, and a multimedia journalist, at WTNH in Connecticut. Plus, last week she got the chance to anchor the station’s 9 a.m. Good Morning Connecticut newscast.
    Congratulations, Alyssa!
    Meanwhile, in Georgia (“the country, not the state“), NYFA grad Liza Tsitsishvilli works at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Recently she did a story about one of the most famous singers in her country. It is evidence of just how much they value her that she was given such an important assignment!

    Broadcast Journalism alum Federica Polidora should probably get an award for the sheer number of Italian news outlets she contributes to. Recently she interviewed Philip Glass, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

    She was at the Cannes Film Festival, but instead of the usual red carpet shot she sent us a picture of her with two of her colleagues, and her son…
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  • New York Film Academy Highlighted at New Taipei City Film Industry Exchange Conference

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    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) was honored to participate in a high-level New Taipei City media event, the New Taipei City Film Industry Exchange Conference.

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China Region Dr. Joy Zhu was a panelist at a segment of the event that focused on the cultivation of talent. Dr. Zhu offered an experienced American and Chinese perspective to the conference delegates, which included members of the Taiwan media.  

    NYFA Executive Vice President for the China Region Dr. Joy Zhu.

    The conference saw film industry professionals from around the globe converge to explore the new Linkou International Media Park, the largest film park in northern Taiwan. Under the guidance of the city government policy, the film industry in New Taipei City has cumulatively developed nearly 130 hectares of industrial land, not only attracting famous TV stations like TVBS and FTV, but also 597 film companies, including Vieshow Cinemas of Banciao Mega City, Showtime Cinema of HiMall, Ambassador Theatre’s Crown Plaza and the upcoming Showtime Live Shulin Store.

    The opening ceremony was presided over by the mayor of New Taipei City, the Honorable Zhu Liwen. In his speech, Mayor Zhu Liwen commended NYFA, and stated, “NYFA’s involvement will bring opportunities of high-level film and media education to the media park.”

    Along with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the National Taiwan University of Arts (NTUA), the event marked an exciting opportunity for NYFA to forge a new and lasting partnership aimed at fostering talent and cultivating rising stars in New Taipei City.

    An Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing between NYFA and NTUA was a highlight that captured a great deal of media attention. The agreement is expected to yield a rich collaboration on future culture exchanges, academic partnerships, research, trainings, and more, as the institutions work together to develop new courses and programs attuned to the exciting opportunities developing in New Taipei City.

    As New Taipei City opens its state-of-the-art film park up to the world, the New York Film Academy is honored to partner with the city’s government, National Taiwan University of Arts, Linkou International Media Park, and the American Institute in Taiwan, to cultivate rising professionals in the media and entertainment industry.

    NYFA is very grateful to the Commercial Specialist Department of the American Institute in Taiwan for this opportunity.

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  • Univision, Conference Calls, Story Corps, & Memorial Day With New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    Here in the United States, the months when national TV audiences are measured are known as “sweep” months. This past May was just such a month, and the local news programs on stations that are part of the Univision television network did very well; in fact, they made history,  finishing first in a number of key demographic groups and time periods.
    What makes this especially historic is that all of the programming on Univision is in Spanish, yet these Spanish-language news programs drew a larger audience than English language news broadcasts in the same cities. It says a great deal about changing audiences, and a changing America.
    A primary lesson to be learned from these results is that news organizations need to continually look for novel ways to engage audiences.
    The Neiman Lab at Harvard University, a research group that studies American journalism, reported recently that The New York Times is using conference-call technology to bring together hundreds of subscribers for what might be called “a private radio program.” Much like a conventional radio talk show, there are subject experts and the opportunity to “call in,” only — instead of being broadcast — it is distributed by telephone: often mobile phones.
    One of the things that typifies all of the departments at the New York Film Academy (NYFA), not just the Broadcast Journalism program, is an emphasis on storytelling. As broadcast journalists, we are in the business of “electronic storytelling.” One of my favorite examples is an organization called Story Corps. This nonprofit group travels the country collecting stories from everyday people. They do it in a novel way, in that they ask people to visit their small mobile recording booths in pairs. And it is there the storytelling happens. Recently, Story Corps began to create animations which portray some of these stories. This is especially important for social media, where people respond to images more than audio.
    Here is a wonderful example, posted online late last month for Memorial Day, the day when America remembers its war dead. And like all the best stories, it has a twist…
    The multimedia journalism (MMJ) skills students learn at the NYFA can be used in a wide range of ways. Former summer session student Alexandra Saeys was recently the on-site reporter for a digital conference called #DES2018, the Digital Business World Conference, which was held in Madrid. As you can see in the picture below, she had all the necessary resources to capture insights and trends that were being hotly debated at the conference.
    Congratulations Alexandra!
    Staying in Europe, in Georgia (“the country, not the state”), New York Film Academy alum Mariam Shalikashvilli works for Georgia Public Broadcasting. And while she is pretty tall, for one stand-up she needed to be a little taller. I don’t think she brought the little platform she is standing on in the picture below. In fact I think she “found it.” But in either case, it was just right.
    We end this week with a moving Memorial Day story produced by former Broadcast Journalism student Melissa Aleman, who works at CW33 in Dallas, Texas. She wrote:
    By far, one of my favorite stories that I wrote and produced … hope you all enjoy it… and truly remember the meaning of Memorial Day. 
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  • Marie Senghore: From the New York Film Academy to the Red Carpet

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    Marie Senghore followed her dream of moving from Sweden to Los Angeles to invest in an acting career. To begin her journey, she enrolled at the New York Film Academy, which she applied for through Blueberry — and the rest is a real success story. Check out Marie’s story in her own words, below!

    (Please note: this interview has been translated from Swedish to English and reprinted with permission from Blueberry. To see the original, click here.)

    Blueberry: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what you’re up to right now?

    MS: I’m an actor, and I earned my associate degree in Acting for Film from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles in May 2017.

    Now, one year after graduation, I’m still living here in LA and working part-time at Disney, while recording movies.

    Blueberry: How did you become interested in acting? What was your first role?

    MS: I have always wanted to work as an actor. I think my first job was at like six years old, when I participated in a section of [Swedish TV show] Bolibompa. It went well so they called me back several more times. Then, I started taking theater lessons and chose theater as a focus in high school.

    However, I did not start working with movies again until autumn 2013, after I had moved back home after spending a year in Spain. I started recording commercials and short films and finally became a part of a feature film.

    Blueberry: What are some films we can see you in?

    MS: In Sweden I played Aliki in Aliki (2016, Tine Alavi) and Tessan in Alena (2015, Daniel di Grado). Later, in the United States, I have participated in a lot of movies, as Spaelade Main Girl in Shea Buttah (2018, Deja Gordon); Julia in 6:00pm (2017, Savvas Christou); and Leonora Kale in 1989 (2018, Furaha Bayibsa).

    Blueberry: How did you choose to study at the New York Film Academy?

    MS: I had searched around at a number of California schools that had film programs. I had previously encountered NYFA through one of Blueberry’s student fairs, so I already knew a little about them. In the fall of 2015 I went to school to have my audition and I felt safe with my choice to start there.

    Blueberry: How would you describe NYFA?

    MS: It is very intensive. You have three terms in one calendar year, so there is no summer vacation. You have a free week between the semesters and then you start again. It sounds very hard, but I think it’s good. You never lose focus and I personally felt that motivated me more.

    Blueberry: Is there a big difference between the industry in Los Angeles and Sweden?

    MS: Yes. This is the capital of all movies, so the industry here is much bigger. There are always lots of projects to work on. Sometimes it also feels like everyone in this city also works in the industry. There are not many I encounter that do not. But that’s what makes it fun. You can always find any project to jump on. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Sweden, but hopefully it will be the case in the future.

    Blueberry: How did a regular school day look like you at NYFA?

    MS: As I mentioned, the school is intensive. Some days you start 9 in the morning, other days not until 7 in the evening. Even though you do not have a lesson, you are also expected to have projects with your classmates. Then there are also many drop-in lessons and guest lectures that you can take. For example, for me it was stage combat. It was one of those lessons I had planned to take once a week, but as I developed, I worked on it almost every day. I really recommend taking as many courses as you can.

    Blueberry: Where did you stay during your program, and how did you do to find accommodation?

    MS: NYFA has a department that helps students find accommodation. I got help from them and found an apartment with two other girls from school. I lived there during my school time. I lived with two girls from China. It was wonderful to live with people from a completely different culture but who have the same passion. I still have contact with them both.

    Blueberry: What do you do in your spare time?

    MS: Watch a movie! I’m a film student so that’s a lot of it. I usually swim, practice, read, or have BBQs with friends. I also like art, so sometimes I go to explore new installations. I work at Disney, so it’s fun to go to Disneyland sometimes too.

    Blueberry: What do you have to see and do when visiting LA?

    MS: Going to the beach, I suppose? Even though I have not gone there so often myself, it is nice to live near the sea. But LA has a little bit of everything. There are beaches, mountains, deserts, forests, and metropolitan areas. It’s just about finding what you like.

    Blueberry: What is your best memory so far from your stay?

    MS: I cannot find one memory, I’ve had too many! I was celebrating Midsummer with my Swedish friends. I celebrated July 4th at Huntington Beach. I spent the summer with my friends by the pool. I got to work on so many amazing projects. I graduated. I got a job at Disney. One of the films I had the lead in will be featured at an American film festival. So many wonderful things have happened that I don’t really remember everything.

    Blueberry: What has been the biggest surprise during your stay in LA?

    MS: I thought I would move here and just focus on acting. It did not even take a year and then I got an interest in being behind the camera. I had to test myself on cinematography and script writing, and it has led me to write my first short film. It’s great that NYFA gave me the chance to explore more parts of the film creation experience.

    Blueberry: Was there anything that was not as you had imagined?

    MS: I did not have so many expectations. I thought that in an Acting for Film program, it’s wouldn’t be much more than movies, but I also got a great deal of theater training so that’s just a big plus.

    Blueberry: Do you have any tips for others who are interested in studying abroad?

    MS: Go! I know that it may feel like there is so much in the way and there are so many criteria that you have to tick off, but it’s worth it. During my time here I have met so many international students. Even though many of them have gone home and followed another career, none of them have regretted their time. I know for myself that, although I would do the same, I would not have changed anything.

    Blueberry: What are your plans for the future? Where do we see you next?

    MS: My goals for the future are to keep up with what I do. I want to continue recording movies. This summer I will record a short film that I have written. It will be interesting to bring a character to life that comes directly from my own imagination. Then for the rest of the year, we’ll see. Maybe I go home to Sweden again or move to South Korea or stay here in the United States. As I said, there is so much I want to do and I do not want to get stuck in a specific country. If my passion gives me the chance to work in another country, I will definitely follow it! Next, you will see me in Deja Gordon’s movie Shea Buttah and then in my own movie Remember.

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  • Iggy Pop, Johnny Depp, and Jonathan Shaw in New York Film Academy Alum Mariana Robles Thome’s Scab Vendor

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    As a result of screening her film at the Marché Du Film at Cannes, NYFA Filmmaking alum Mariana Robles Thome landed her first celebrity interview with rocker Iggy Pop for her upcoming feature documentary Scab Vendor.

    Thome graduated with her BFA in filmmaking in 2015 and she’s in the home stretch of her documentary about renowned New York tattoo artist Jonathan Shaw. Thome, originally from Brazil, took some time to chat with the NYFA Blog about her career, her experiences at NYFA and her film.

    Photo provided by Mariana Robles Thome.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about Scab Vendor?

    MRT: Scab Vendor is a documentary about the life and times of Jonathan Shaw. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth as the son of jazz bandleader Artie Shaw and Hollywood starlet Doris Dowling, Jonathan’s teenage years were marked by rebellion against the glamorous life of his parents and extreme aversion to his mother’s alcoholism.

    After almost dying of a heroin overdose in his 20s, hitchhiking from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro, and learning from the best old-school American tattoo artists, Jonathan Shaw became the go-to tattoo artist in New York City. The clientele at his shop, Fun City Tattoo, ranged from Johnny Depp to Jim Jarmusch to the Ramones. Scab Vendor explores how a man at the height of his career as a tattoo artist chose to give up on his celebrity lifestyle and find his redemption through writing. 

    NYFA: How did the project come about?

    MRT: I met Jonathan Shaw because he was releasing his novel, Narcisa, at a renowned art gallery in Los Angeles, La Luz de Jesus Gallery. My co-director, Lucas de Barros, told me about it and asked if I could shoot the night, since he lives in Brazil and wanted it documented.

    When I met Jonathan, on the front door of his Hollywood penthouse, I was immediately drawn to him as a character. In front of me there was this 62-year-old man puffing on a vape, full of tattoos, chains, dressed like a hobo and speaking perfect Portuguese. Immediately I knew this project was going to be a feature documentary, and Jonathan was more than happy to be a part of it. 

    In 2016 I was able to go with a few projects to the Cannes Film Festival Market — including the film I made in my first year at NYFA. They were selected by Creative Minds Group, who booked a screening in the Marché du Film at Cannes for eight selected short films. This led to a great coincidence: Jim Jarmusch (who is good friends with Jonathan Shaw) was in the festival with two movies, including a documentary on Iggy Pop (who is also good friends with Jonathan). I immediately contacted Jonathan and we were able to schedule the first interview of the project with Iggy Pop.

    NYFA: How did NYFA prepare you for the professional world?

    MRT: Well, I must admit that I used my time at NYFA well. I really took advantage of everything that the school has to offer, the professionals, the equipment, the resources, and definitely, the red cards. (A red card allows any student to meet with any instructor at the academy for a consultation on their work.)

    I started this project when I was still a student at NYFA. I was actually in the middle of my thesis period, and was already producing three of my classmates’ films. I had the great advantage of having instructors who were willing to prepare me for the giant project that was ahead of me. Moreover, most of my classmates who were my close friends ended up helping me out in this project, and many NYFA alumni are part of my crew. 

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students — especially those about to graduate? 

    MRT: Keep doing what you love, work hard, go to festivals, talk to people, get out of your comfort zone. But most importantly, never forget that nobody will ever care more about your project than you do. 

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    MRT: This year I’m working on a TV series about the 1980s and 1990s in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, with historian and videographer Clayton Patterson (who I met through Scab Vendor) — whose work is currently exhibited, archived, and preserved at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.

    We’re also in the process of producing a TV Series called Desterro, shot in my hometown in Brazil.  

    NYFA: How can people get involved with Scab Vendor?

    MRT: You can support us by contributing to our crowdfunding campaign at www.seedandspark.com/fund/scabvendor. Even if you don’t have the means to contribute, you can follow us on Seed&Spark and you’ll be helping us get a chance to win an extra 75,000 towards the project when we reach 1000 followers! We are also on facebook @scabvendordoc and Instragram @scabvendor.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mariana Robles Thome for her time and for sharing her experiences with us. We wish her the best of luck on Scab Vendor as well as all her other projects, and can’t wait to see it playing on the big screen.

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  • New York Film Academy Supports House of Artists Foundation

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    This spring, on a lovely-weather day in Atlanta, Georgia, a very special benefit charitable run took place: The Fantastic Movie Run 10k! The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was proud to be a sponsor of the event.

    Ashley Drayton, the remarkable founder and president of House of Artists Foundation (HoAF), a 501 (c)(3) non- profit that serves the Autistic community, in particular, Artists with Autism, is a graduate (’12) of the New York Film Academy MFA Acting Program.

    The Atlanta run raised crucial funds needed to support the House of Artists Foundation’s mission and work, which is to continue to bring light to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), especially with regard to individuals in entertainment sector who — despite their struggles with ASD— contribute to the industry in so many valuable ways.

    Every runner/walker and volunteer received a NYFA race t-shirt adorned with the HoAF logo and slogan: “Where Autistic Artists Thrive!”

    NYFA is extremely pleased to count Ashley as part of our alum community. Learn more about the organization here: www.HouseOfArtistsFoundation.org

     

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  • NYFA DOCS got off to a great start in the 1st Quarter of 2018

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    We seem to be beating industry’s 50-50 in 2020 goal, and docsters are killin’ it across the board.  

    In January alone…

    An Academy Award nomination landed Documentary Filmmaking Instructor Kristen Nutile in Oscar’s limelight as Editor of the  Netflix original doc, Heroin(e).

    October Films promoted Louis Mole (’13) to Head of Development

    Sundance gave Documentary Cinematography Instructor Claudia Raschke some serious love, lauding her work as director of photography of the acclaimed, RBG, featuring her on the celebrated “Women Who Shoot panel. You’ll find Claudia-centric articles include American CinematographerFilmmakerIndiewire, etc.

    With a two-minute micro-doc, alum Gary Bencheghib (’14) moved the President of Indonesia to launch a massive cleanup of the most polluted river in the world. The initiative will employ 7,000 people for seven years, stopping millions of tons of plastics from reaching the ocean each year, and radically improving the lives of 20 million people along the river.

    And then came February…

    A Sniper’s War, the first feature doc from director Olga Schechter (‘14) premiered to rave reviews at two top festivals, Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

    “Powerful and disturbing.” – Hollywood Reporter

    Superb cinematography.” – Hollywood Reporter

    “Stunning.” – Counter Punch

    “The most chillingly frightening killer imaginable. – Film Threat

    A 9 out of 10.” – Film Threat

    Schechter scored these key reviews despite the lack of a release date, a publicist, or even a production company. A good, old-fashioned bidding war immediately broke out and it looks like Journeyman Pictures has won worldwide rights with a promise of theatrical release. A Sniper’s War has since gone on to win multiple festivals including Best Foreign Documentary at the Academy Award Qualifying, Arizona Film Festival. (With the new eligibility rules, the Arizona win almost certainly qualifies the film for the Oscar race. The Academy will confirm their new list of qualifying festivals later this spring, so we’ll know for sure then.)

    In other February news, Netflix premiered doc series First Team: Juventus, edited by Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (‘09), which “is produced with elegance and cinematic finesse,” and “ultimately reminds us of the simple beauty of the beautiful game.” – Sports Illustrated 

    Documentary Producing Instructor Dorottya Mathe also premiered her feature, The Independents, at SBFFThe Hollywood Reporter likes it too, especially, “the way in which it subverts all the clichés of the star-is-born story,” and pronounces it, “an extremely engaging film.” Graduate Erica Wong (’14) assisted Dorottya on the production, and fellow NYFA Instructor Piero Basso served as DP. Documentary Instructor Jessica Wolfson’s feature, Hot Grease followed its Discovery premiere with VOD roll out on Discovery Go.

    March didn’t miss a beat either…

    Wynona Barbera (’16) took a walk on the fiction side and produced El Cat which became an Official Selection of the hip, HBO Women in Comedy Festival.

    Furlough, the second 2018 fiction film from NYFA Documentary Instructor Dorottya Mathe (Production Supervisor) opened in theaters. The female-driven comedy starred Academy Award winners Melissa Leo, Whoopi Goldberg and Anna Paquin.

    Back in the doc world, Invisible Killers: Ebola Virus, associate produced by Laura Snow (’13) for The Documentary Group aired on Discovery and Science Channel. (And is now available on Discovery Go.)

    Francesca Pagani produced The Italian Mafia’s Young Foot Soldiers and associate produced Inside The Two-Decade Fight to Bring Down a Confederate Monument, both for VICE.

    Weighing in for the 6-Weekers, Kendall Ciesemier (6-Week ’17), now a Mic staff producer, has created a series of pivotal social media micro-docs around the Parkland students’ anti-gun violence campaign, including Should This Responsible Gun Owner Surrender his AR-15? and Parkland Teen vs. NRA Member.

    Director/Producer Tarryn Crossman (‘12) won another SAFTA Award, this time for the hard-hitting MTV Shuga episode In Real Life. Mentions include: Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Screen Africa.

    Mariko Ide (’16) edited her first piece for Google.

    Kristen Nutile edited Weed The People (directed by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein),  which premiered at SXSW — where Indiewire and Interview magazine both pronounced it a “must-see” film. And even People magazine gave it a write-up.

    The Stolen River, directed by Krisztina Danka (6-Week ’17), won Best Environmental Film at the Calcutta International Film Festival. That was after taking Best in Show at Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival, as well as awards at Independent Shorts Awards, Impact DOCS Award, LiFFT Filmotsav and others.

    Andrea “Fuma” Fumagalli (’08) premiered his first feature documentary, Amigos Del Tren, at San Diego Latino Film Festival.

    The Second quarter of 2018 is off to a great start as well. More on that shortly.

    One spoiler, though…

    Two documentaries nominated for Peabody Awards this year have NYFA Documentary School bloodlines: Heroin(e), edited by prof, Kristen Nutile and Newtown, Associate Produced/Associate Post Produced by Laura Snow (’13).

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  • African Black American Film Society Celebrates African American Women in Times of War and Conflict

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    Members of New York Film Academy (NYFA) African and Black American Film Society (ABA) attended the first annual Greenlight Women Celebration in February, hosted by actress, model, and singer Shari Belafonte and actress Wendy Davis.

    NYFA students sat amongst filmmakers, magazine owners, and businesswomen for an amazing brunch followed by a Q&A to pay tribute to African American women that served our country in times of war and conflict.

    As the lights dimmed and all eyes focused on the screen, ABA members sat mesmerized as they watched clips from the soon-to-be-released documentary, Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II, which captures the untold stories of black women who battled Nazism abroad as well as racism and sexism at home. When the picture faded to black, the students applauded the moving stories of bravery and incredible obstacles that these women endured. Directed by Gregory Cooke, the harsh circumstances that African American women faced during wartime resonated throughout the room.

    Shari Belafonte and NYFA Producing Instructor Kimberly Ogletree led the discussion honoring four fascinating black female veterans that served in the Vietnam, Grenada, and Iraq wars. The women spoke of racism and sexism they encountered in the military, and their hopes for the next generation of soldiers, naval, and air force officers.

    NYFA students learned the historical context of these stories, during eras when anti-war activities, major Civil Rights demonstrations, the rise of Black Power, and the burgeoning Women’s Movement would impact the lives of women serving in the military.  Each of the women took a moment to discuss the sexual assault they witnessed or experienced first-hand, and shared how they were able to cope.

    Greenlight Women in Association with Loeb & Loeb Present: First Annual Black History Month Celebration Brunch on Saturday, Feb. 24th, 2018 at Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, California. (Photo by Arnold Turner/ATA)

    Judith Welsh, retired JAG stated:

    “You do not let your circumstances overcome you. You must overcome the circumstances.”

    These veterans confronted adversity. Giving up, being broken, or walking away was never an option for these women. The opportunity for students to bear witness to their situations and war stories from the black female soldiers’ perspective was extremely educational, and these particular women were honored to share because they had never before been given a forum to speak about their experiences.

    Retired Captain Joan Arrington Craigwell served as a flight nurse in the United States Air Force during one of the most heinous conflicts in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive. Joan’s voice was calm yet subdued as she spoke about the horrors she encountered from the frontline. Joan received the Bronze star for bravery and her service.

    There was a dead silence across the room as Joan and Gloria spoke in detail about unbelievable moments they experienced first-hand.

    A student asked, name one obstacle you had to overcome?

    Craigwell answered, “Having to go to Vietnam and the surprises that you faced. I still have a thing about not being able to save every person. It’s a nursing thing and I still carry that guilt knowing it was impossible.”

    Retired Army Lt. Colonel Dr. Gloria Willingham-Toure vividly remembers her obstacle, as a nurse having to make the painstaking decision of which injured soldiers would receive medical attention. She said, “When soldiers were flown directly from the battlefield they had some unbelievable wounds and I had to do triage like I never did before, which meant I had to walk past those I could not help. So I would cry, cry, and cry, until one of my commanders said, ‘You gotta decide today, are you going to be crying or help those that you can,’ and I changed at that point.”

    The stories were so intense that a young comedian, Alycia Cooper, silently stood as all eyes shifted to her, and in one swift second she lightened the entire mood and tone in the room. As I glanced at the two tables of ABA members I could see a needed relief from the stories, because the realities of war are hard to hear.

    Craigwell spoke of trying to desegregate one of her housing units in 1961. Her white friend had heard of a vacancy and asked if she could take it. When her application was denied they took up the issue with their higher-ups. They were told by command that this housing was set aside for black members.

    When Craigwell pushed back she was reassigned. Those in attendance, at the brunch, tut-tutted at the thought. Craigwell assured them the move was for the best. “I started doing some of my best work after that,” she said. Currently, Craigwell works to help veterans with employment, housing, and counseling.

    New York Film Academy student and veteran Hattie Sallie stood tall to applaud the honorees for their service. She said, “During my time in the armed forces, I could see the fruit beginning to bear which I attributed to the work and accomplishments of those that came before me.” She added, “There are more programs for soldiers battling PTSD. Officers are better trained. Progress is slow but it’s happening.”

    Our honorees were Lt. Col. Patricia Jackson-Kelly, who served in the Air Force, Navy, and Army between 1977-2003. Jackson-Kelly stated, “I applaud the youth today; your movement has been so refreshing. If it wasn’t for you I don’t know what we would do. The young people are speaking up for what they believe in and I encourage you to do that.” Today, Jackson-Kelly is the vice president of the National Association for Black Military Women.  

    Dr. Gloria Willingham-Toure is a retired Army Lt. Colonel. She served over 20 years in the reserves and in the Army National Guard. She began her career at Brooks Medical Center as a civilian nurse during the end of the Vietnam War. She retired from the 6222nd U.S. Army reserves Forces School, 5th Brigade, 104th Division Institutional Training, as the director of medical courses preparing our nation’s medical personnel for deployments.

    Willingham-Toure stated, “My only prayer during the end of the Vietnam war was that I hoped that the training I had given my soldiers would help them stay alive.”

    Judith Mary Welsh was a Personnel Specialist and retired JAG who served in the U.S. Navy. She served in Germany, where she won “Best Supporting Actress” in the 7th Corp tournament of plays. She retired from the 88th Military Police Unit. Welsh, and reiterated to the students to “Always overcome your circumstances.”

    And finally, Joan T. Arrington Craigwell attended the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. She would later work in Southeast Asia at Clark Air Base in the Philippines and Republic of South Vietnam. Craigwell stated, “We live in the greatest country in the world and attacking our democracy means death.”

    When opening the celebration, the President of Greenlight Women, Ivy Kagan Bierman, highlighted the importance of the group’s mission statement. Their statement proclaims: “Greenlight Women is an alliance of accomplished, creative, business professionals whose mission is to champion women and promote diverse perspectives in media.” Bierman stated that the wording of their mission statement and the name of their group had been crafted carefully, because, “We’re tired of sitting in meetings talking about change. We want to make change happen, now.” 

    Two New York Film Academy staff members sit on the board of Greenlight Women. Chair of the Diversity Action Group Kimberly Ogletree is a NYFA producing instructor and the chair of NYFA Los Angeles’ Industry Lab. Barbara Weintraub is chair of industry outreach and professional development, and she serves on the board of Greenlight Women as vice president.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Greenlight Women for giving our students an opportunity to speak with the women who defended our nation. To learn more about the mission of Greenlight Women click here.

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  • Episodic Instagram, Austin Veterans, Copenhagen TV2, and More From New York Film Academy’s Broadcast Journalism School

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    Digiday posted a fascinating article last week about storytelling in the digital age. The premise was that “publishers” (the online sort) are treating Instagram stories like episodic television. It’s really a brilliant innovation. The way people process information is changing (or should that be “has changed?”). People react less to words and more to images. So how do you take what would otherwise be disjointed arrays of pixels and give them staying power? You tell a story — and episodic television has been telling stories since the dawn of the TV era. By creating basic storylines, that carry over from “episode” to “episode,” you create anticipation, tension, interest and (most importantly) audiences!
    The same is true in nonfiction video too.
    NYFA grad Melissa Aleman is back in the Weekly Update again, this time with Col. Jack Jacobs, the chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program. Melissa was the videographer at a special veterans event that NYFA held in Austin, Texas. It is wonderful to see how Melissa is using the skills she learned as a Broadcast Journalism student not just to build a career, but to “give back” as well. Meanwhile, Col. Jack Jacoba is the heart and soul of our veterans’ activities here at NYFA.
    So how do you produce news stories in the digital era? Well, you can learn a lot from NYFA grad Celina Liv Danielsen. She works in the news department at TV2, in Copenhagen, Denmark. Look carefully at the picture below — Liv is using three microphones. Two are wireless lavalier mics (see the antennae on the back of the camera?), and one is a mini-shotgun mounted on the front of the camera. Just like she learned to do here at NYFA!
    The skills students learn in the NYFA Broadcast Journalism program can be used in a number of different ways. Recently I heard from graduate Karina Gaudereto. She is working for a company called SEVEN PR, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She wrote:
    This is a PR Agency for techlology startups, and I am a press agent for some companies in this area … There is one TV production called Floresta Produções which is a joint venture with Sony Entertainment. They make one of the most famous reality shows here like Lady Night at Multishow, and also UFC, Shark Tank, and shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. They called out our help because they want to expand their productions for branded content and TV premium. It’s been cool but tough!

    Here is a screen grab from one of Karina’s student projects. I know for a fact she misses New York … if not the winter weather.

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