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.
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
New York Film Academyacting 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.”
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 Overtones, which wasdirected 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.
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.
After forming her own production company, Poverty Row Entertainment, with writer/director Jennifer DeLia, New York native and New York Film Academyalum, Julie Pacino produced the feature film Billy Bates. The film will be premieringat the famous Sunshine Cinema on April 5th. Billy Bates is the story of a young damaged artist who faces his demons, and through perseverance rises from the ashes of a broken soul. Sticking with her roots, Julie’s independent feature was shot primarily in New York City. “I really think its a unique film experience that lends itself well to conversations about the different facets of the process,” says Julie.
The film began as an expansion of Jennifer’s short film I Am An Island and gradually morphed into an exploration of the artist’s process. Billy’s journey is very parallel and at times intertwined with Jennifer’s journey. “This film is very much about art, as well as the psychology of the character,” adds Julie. “This film was quite organic and non-conventional in terms of how it came together.”
When asked about the process of raising funds for an independent feature such as this, Julie had some great advice. “It’s important not to be afraid to discuss funding with anyone who may be a candidate, whether inside or outside the film industry. I find it also important to really believe in the content a filmmaker is working on, so that the passion is something investors can really get behind – since there really are no guarantees of a return. Offering investors an experience can be priceless. Transparency has also been key for us to in terms of relationship-building.”
Julie is currently in talks with a couple companies, weighing options in terms of digital, VOD, and theatrical distribution. She is also producing another project with Jennifer called The First, which is the story of Hollywood pioneer and silent screen legend, Mary Pickford.
Be sure to check out the premiere of Billy Bates this Friday, April 5th at Sunshine Cinema at 8:30pm.
Hannah Quinlivan recently finished a 8-Week Acting for Film Workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The Taiwanese-Australian actress first gained attention in Taiwan when she joined a successful girl group in 2008. Since then she has worked as a model, acted on a television drama, and has been a host on MTV and game shows. She recently landed her first major role in a feature film, and came to New York Film Academy to brush up on her acting skills.
“I’ve had a really good time here. I really jumped out of my safe zone,” she says. “That was a really big step for me. And I really enjoyed my time shooting on the Universal Studios backlot. I used to really enjoy the Universal tour, and now I got the chance to shoot there!” Hannah says she loved the short-term program and looks forward to returning to New York Film Academy soon.
With 5 years of college education and some work in television and media, Andrea Picco was looking for a school that focused on the hands-on experience and not just theory. “I first enrolled in the 4 week digital filmmaking class just to see how I would like the school and if it really was what I was looking for,” said Andrea. “The very first day we were already out shooting! Those 4 weeks were the longest of my life. I wrote, directed, casted and shot 2 short films and a short documentary. In the process, I learned everything about digital cameras, film vocabulary, menu setting, lenses, proper lighting, F-stops, etc.”
After finishing the documentary, Andrea decided to enroll in the one year documentary class. “Looking back, I know it was the right decision. New York Film Academy is a place where you can become a filmmaker within a year – if you take it seriously and work hard. It is no nonsense. The equipment they provide is great and updated. The staff is very helpful and friendly. The Head of the Documentary Department, Andrea Swift, is absolutely amazing, passionate and inspiring. We had producers, filmmakers, production companies and even Discovery Channel executives come to our classes. Our thesis editing supervisor was Bob Eisenhardt.”
While enrolled in the One Year Documentary Class, Andrea Picco knew she wanted to produce her thesis film on a story related to human trafficking. After filming a promo video for a non-profit in 2008, she met a woman who was a survivor of human trafficking. Andrea shortly became friends with the woman and was soon on her way to Ohio to film what would become her thesis film.
The Girl Next Door is a story of redemption and empowerment.”When you first hear about ‘Human Trafficking’ you usually think it only happens overseas in 3rd world countries, but we don’t usually think about American kids and teens.” The film tells the story of how Theresa survived two years of sex trafficking in the suburbs of Detroit and how she overcame her past to became an abolitionist.
Andrea’s film has been to four film festivals and has won two awards. She plans to turn her short film into a full feature. Andrea is also planning to start filming a documentary about the human trafficking business in Corona, Queens. As Andrea says, “Great stories are easy to find when you keep your heart and eyes open.”
Since landing the Lifetime film William & Kate, New York Film Academy Acting Conservatory graduate, Camilla Luddington, has been on a major roll. She starred in an entire season of Showtime’s Californication as Lizzie, joined the cast of Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Jo Wilson, and has been on six episodes of HBO’sTrue Blood. Not only that, Camilla has been tapped to play Lara Croft in the newest incarnation of the Tomb Raider video game franchise.
Camilla initially lost out on a role in ABC’s pilot, Gilded Lilys. However, while she was promoting Tomb Raider at Comic Con San Diego, she heard ABC was looking for a new doctor on Grey’s. “I was asked to come read for it with six other girls, and then heard maybe two days later the role was mine. I think meeting Shonda Rhymes [at ABC] during that pilot season helped though. I think as an actor sometimes you focus on the immediate (aka not getting that role) but you never know what opportunities can come back around, or how one role can actually lead to the casting of another. As was the case for Grey’s Anatomy.”
Check out our most recent interview with Camilla Luddington where she talks about her role on Grey’s Anatomy, what it was like to play Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and her upcoming film The Pact II.
Reality television has caught on all over the world and Italy is no different. One of its popular shows Clio Make Up on Discovery Italy recently finished shooting its second season. In the second series, the famous makeup artist Clio Zammateo continues her journey into the wonderful world of cosmetics. This time from New York City. In each episode, Clio shows two women how to apply makeup in a professional manner, erasing the small imperfections and creating the perfect look for a special occasion.
This past season, New York Film Academy Documentary graduate, Marco Vitale was Media Manager of the popular Italian show. Marco wrapped production on the second season on July 2nd of this year. “It was my first TV experience and it was awesome,” said Marco. “I had the chance to work closely with the director, Angelo Vitale, who directed the first 5 seasons of Big Brother in Italy and many others TV shows.”
While living in Italy, Marco was in search of a prominent documentary school in New York City. Though uncertain of New York Film Academy‘s Documentary program in the beginning, Marco was convinced to join the program by Documentary Chair, Andrea Swift. “I decided to apply for the One Year Documentary Program and after a year since graduating, I’m quite sure that it was the best decision of my life.”