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  • 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: 6213

  • NYFA Grad Wins at Abu Dhabi Film Festival

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    Abu Dhabi FF

    On Wednesday night, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival announced the winners of the Black Pearl Awards for the Emirates Film Competition and the Short Film Competition. The awards were presented in a ceremony at the Emirates Palace.

    Aisha Abdulla, an Emirati New York Film Academy graduate, received her award in the Abu Dhabi Film Festival Emirates Short film competition for her short documentary film Against the Wind. The film was her final project in the 12-week evening program. Congratulations to Aisha!

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  • NYFA Grad Becomes First Female Native to Direct in Amazon

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    Film still_1

    Women have made leaps and bounds as filmmakers in recent years. In 2010, Katheryn Bigelow became the first female to win Best Director at the Academy Awards for her acclaimed film, Hurt Locker. Recently, New York Film Academy graduate, Darcyana Moreno Izel became the first female born in the Amazon to direct a film in the Amazon. Izel was born in Manaus, the capital of the Amazon state of Brazil. Her monumental achievement gained recognition and financial support from the Brazilian government. The film, Dark Amazon, will be premiering at the Los Angeles Brazilian Film Festival on Tuesday, September 10th at 9:00pm.

    Shot in the some of the deepest parts of the Amazon, the story surrounds a research team searching for natural cures for cancer, who wind up encountering the legendary Anhangá. The supernatural creature, Anhangá is the name locals gave the spirits that roamed the earth after death, tormenting the living. The creature could take any form, but the most well known was of a deer with eyes of fire and a cross on its forehead. Darcyana gathers actual first hand documentary style interviews with some of the locals who claim to have seen the creature, giving the film a real authentic feel. She and her crew even had unexplained phenomena occur during the shoot. “The whistle that you will hear in the movie is not a sound effect but an actual whistle that we all kept hearing during the shoot, which is part of the legend of Anhangá,” says Darcyana. “The legend says that when the creature is around, you can hear this eerie whistle.”

    Darcyana hopes her filmmaker career will allow her the opportunity to show another side of Brazil to the world. In general, the Brazilian people have tremendous hope. “I’ve seen families in complete poverty that were so grateful for being together while having so little, because they always believe tomorrow things will be better.” It is that same hope that has given Darcyana the ability to see out her life-long dream of becoming a director – despite all odds.

    If you live in Brazil and share the same passion as Darcyana, The New York Film Academy wants to see you in Brazil from September 16th – October 1st! NYFA will be conducting auditions, open houses, and workshops. Please contact Jonathan Juarbe at jjuarbe@nyfa.edu for more details.

    Film still_2

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  • MFA Filmmaking Student to Screen at Switzerland Film Festival

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    1 minute film

    MFA Filmmaking student, Gabriela Zogall’s short film is one of 3 that was nominated in the category fiction/documentary at the One Minute Film & Video Festival in Aarau. Her short, Switching Channels, was created for a mise-en-scene project and was her first film she shot at New York Film Academy. The fifty-nine second, black and white 16mm film is simply about a couple in bed watching TV and fighting over the remote. We’ve all been there.

    The winner will be announced at the award show on August the 25th. Best of luck to Gabi!

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    July 29, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4914

  • NYFA Alum Raises 70k For First Feature

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    Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.28.06 PM

    Abigail Schwarz and Nicola Scandiffo

    New York Film Academy alumni, Abigail Schwarz, will be shooting her first feature film, Those Who Wander. The independent comedy, written and directed by Schwarz, is about growing up, growing apart and getting lost along the way. The project recently raised $70,000 through Kickstater and is gearing up for production. Signed on to the project thus far are producer Nicola Scandiffio, executive producer James Frey (Bestselling Author, A Million Little Pieces), cinematographer Elisha Christian (Save the Date), casting director Adrienne Stern (ASC Casting), Emmy Award Winning actress Anna Holbrook, and countless others.

    Abigail is currently still casting and looking for crew in NYC and LA, and the project is part of the SAG Ultra Low Budget Indie Agreement for low budget feature films.

    If you would like to be involved in the film in any context, please contact wanderproduction@gmail.com.

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    July 22, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5241

  • A Film Worth ‘A Celebration’

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    Tong Zhou

    Director Tong Zhou on the set of “A Celebration…”

    BFA Filmmaking student Tong Zhou just returned from Cannes, where she screened her short film, A Celebration is a Celebration is a Celebration is a Celebration. She also recently won Best Director at the Beijing College Student Film Festival for her work on it.

    Originally from Harbin, China, Tong was attending the prestigious Central Academy of Drama, but said she was becoming frustrated and wanted to find a more hands-on program. She went for a tour of New York Film Academy and was immediately sold. “I really liked it!” she says. “After two years, I quit school in China and moved to New York.” She spent her first year in New York and loved the energy in the city. She shot her thesis film, A Celebration…, in New York City and upstate New York. Beautifully-shot by fellow NYFA student Thrinnanon Samrej, the drama follows Daniel and his complicated relationships in the lead-up to his eighteenth birthday.

    Tong is finishing her degree at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, and is developing a feature screenplay with 2 screenwriters. She plans to shoot the dramedy before the end of the year.

     

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  • Working with Robert Redford After NYFA

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    Acclaimed actor, Robert Redford has announced his first television series. Guess who just got hired as his Production Coordinator? None other than New York Film Academy Documentary Department grad, Andrea Blake!

    Andrea graduated just over a year ago. In that short time, she interned and freelanced for NYFA Doc prof, Hilla Medalia, on Dancing In Jaffa. After that, she picked up and moved to Chicago where she scored a much sought-after internship with Academy Award-nominated / Sundance-winning director, Steve James (Hoop Dreams). She interned and then worked for his company Kartemquin Films on several documentaries – including his highly anticipated Roger Ebert picture.

    Now, with their backing, Andrea just won the new gig on Chicagoland from Robert Redford, his Sundance Productions and the producers of the critically acclaimed AMC series, Brick City.

    Congrats to Andrea – they are lucky to have her!

    -Andrea Swift, New York Film Academy Documentary Chair

    chicagoland-title-graphic

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  • NYFA Instructor in New One-Woman Show

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    anastasia-headshotNew York Film Academy acting instructor, Anastasia Coon is bringing her one-woman show, Gracie & Rose, to the Art of Acting studio in Hollywood as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. The festival takes place in venues throughout Hollywood during the month of June, and promotes groundbreaking work in small venues. As Anastasia says, “A huge part of Fringe is the social aspect. You see a show, hang out with actors, and have a drink with them.”

    In Gracie & Rose, Anastasia portrays multiple characters living in Wyoming in the 1950s. The character of Gracie has to deal with the intense demands of the land, caring for animals, and running a ranch. She also disguises herself as a man so she and Rose can be together.

    Inspired in part by Anastasia’s time living on a farm in France, the play was cultivated over the past dozen years. “It’s a good story. Old-fashioned storytelling. And it’s a love story about living authentically by any means necessary,” she says.

    While Gracie & Rose is not based on a specific true story, Anastasia says, “It’s based on true stories of women through our history that we never hear about.” In fact, there are many well-documented incidents of women living as men for various reasons throughout history – in Aboriginal communities, throughout the Middle East, and during the American Civil War. Anastasia continues, “Because we’re deprived of those stories, there are huge omissions in American history, the history of the Western states, and women around the world.”

    For more information, visit the official website or Facebook page and be sure to check out the trailer below.

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    May 21, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4140

  • NYFA Acting Grad Produces Children’s Web Series

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    Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 11.21.25 AM

    Since living in the states, British native Danielle Kronenberg has starred in over 10 independent films and is currently producing, directing, and acting in her own children’s web series. The New York Film Academy acting graduate put together the SAG-AFTRA approved web-series, How To Make, with hardly any budget. Now, she’s in talks with a children’s show to potentially pick up the project. “I think you have to create your own work and never stop,” says Kronenberg.

    While at the New York Film Academy, Danielle performed at The Player’s Club in the ensemble play Overtoneswhich was directed by the multi-talented NYFA Producing Chair Ron Tippe. “My year at NYFA was fantastic and something I looked forward to every single day. All of the teachers are outstanding in their fields, and the international office was always there with a helping hand. [Director of Acting Admissions] Roger DelPozo is a fountain of knowledge, mentor and guiding light.

    Danielle is currently co-writing an independent film that will be shot by NYFA Instructor, Piero Basso, later this June.

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  • Producing Grad Tackles Gun Control

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    BTS05

    Films are and have always been an important way to make a difference. That is exactly why New York Film Academy One-Year Producing graduate, Ella Nuortila is producing a new short film called Six. The film is about a child who finds a hidden gun while playing alone on a rooftop. It is a story about a child’s imagination vs. reality; a child’s innocence vs. the power of guns; and a child’s vulnerability vs. the negligence of adults. “The number of firearms in the US is not in the millions, but in the hundreds of millions,” said Nuortila. “With all the talk about gun control, who can control over 300 million privately owned guns? We want to take part in the conversation as we best can: by making this film!”

    Six’s cast and crew are mainly comprised of New York Film Academy alumni, including director Frank Jerky and cinematographer Stefano Ferrari. Ella currently has a campaign on IndieGogo with the hopes of raising its production cost of fifteen thousand dollars.

    Click below if you’re interested in supporting our NYFA alumni raise funds for Six.

     

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    April 10, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4539