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  • NYFA South Beach Alum Michael Bradway on How His Modeling and Acting Career Go Hand-in-Hand

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    From working with globally recognized brands like Champion and U.S. Polo Assn. to working on Miami-based short films Hi8, My Dear Delilah, Watch Me, and Piece, NYFA alum Michael Bradway is booked and busy, focusing on both an acting and modeling career that he explains compliments both disciplines. 

    (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    Bradway grew up in Boca Raton, Fl with his mom and two sisters. Bradway remembers first being intrigued by modeling and entertainment when his twin sister Natalie was approached at their local mall one day by a talent manager. “Slowly, one opportunity led to another,” he shared. “However, I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until my senior year of high school when I was in the school production of Fiddler on the Roof, it was was an incredible, new experience.” That experience led Bradway to apply for NYFA’s South Beach campus to pursue a BFA in Acting for Film not long after.

    Campaign for Polo (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    “NYFA South Beach felt like the best choice being a hands-on acting for film program, where I could also study theatre,” Bradway said. “Being at NYFA South Beach for the past three years has taught me so much about acting and filmmaking. For example, hitting your mark, being in the moment, and learning about numerous actors and playwrights. We took editing and film craft classes to get a better understanding and gain more respect for the filmmaking side of a project too. One thing I learned at NYFA, that will stick with me forever, is to always be the most prepared person in the room and there is no excuse not to be.”

    Pursuing acting and modeling has been a helpful experience for Bradway, who recommends that actors look into modeling opportunities to improve their craft. “It’s a great way to explore a different style of art and meet people in various industries,” he explained. “Agencies hold open calls online with instructions, so depending on where you’re located I suggest looking up the agencies in your area.” 

    Bradway is currently signed with SELECT Model Management and has booked multiple campaigns for famous brands like Champion, U.S. Polo Assn., Verizon, and Brightline Train. “Brightline Train was definitely one of my favorites because of all the running we had to do through the train, in a park, and they even created their own mock highway for us to run through too,” revealed Bradway.

    Champion campaign (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)

    When asked about whether he prefers acting or modeling, the NYFA alum explained that both creative pursuits have given him so much joy. “I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with incredible people and companies worldwide,” he shared. “I don’t necessarily have a favorite between the two. Acting has actually helps me with modeling and vice versa. Modeling can be very interactive, even without having to say any lines. You’re capturing a moment with each photo taken and most of the time the company/photographer wants those moments to look natural. Acting has definitely helped me with that skill.”

    In addition to modeling helping his acting skills and acting helping his modeling, Bradway also shared that NYFA South Beach campus’ close-knit community helped him grow in his craft and build a community of faculty and students alike. “it’s a building full of amazingly talented and genuinely wholehearted people who are currently working in the industry,” he gushed. “They are funny, hardworking and all have the same goal in mind; to tell their stories. There are so many stories to tell which is why more people should be exploring acting and filmmaking. Many hands are involved in a single film with a vast amount of different jobs, so there is something for everyone.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank New York Film Academy South Beach alum Michael Bradway for taking the time to share more about what he has learned from modeling and acting and how both careers have helped him grow in the industry.

     

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    November 23, 2020 • Acting, South Beach, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 567

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum Lebogang Fisher Selected for Actors in Training Casting Initiative by Warner Bros. Television

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    Lebogang Fisher or “Lebo” (pronounced Leh-boo), is a South African actress and director (M R Management, Stella Talent) and NYFA alum. Her name “Lebogang” means to be thankful, and she has been, time and time again, for the opportunities she has had, including most recently when she was one of ten selected to be part of the inaugural group of Warner Bros. TV’s (WBTV) “Actors in Training” program.

    The WBTV Actors in Training program is designed to connect Warner Bros. Studio with emerging actors who may have had their final year of dramatic training curtailed or negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of 6,800 actors from 280 training programs worldwide who participated in the program, Warner Bros. selected Fisher as an actress to watch and to be introduced to the entertainment community at large.

    NYFA Alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher

    If not for the pandemic, Fisher would have been playing Ophelia in a South African production of Hamlet at The Fugard Theatre in Cape Town later this year. In the meantime though, you can watch her work as Cressida in The Show Must Go Online’s Troilus and Cressida.

    Fisher attended NYFA’s 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory program in New York City after her agent in South Africa suggested she audition for the program. “My family didn’t have the money, but you could audition for a talent-based scholarship,” shared Fisher. Recalling her audition for the scholarship, Fisher shared that she remembered messing up one of her monologues, but quickly pivoted and tried something else. “When I was done [with the second monologue], the scout said to me, Yeah…You need to lead with that one next time. He offered me a scholarship on the spot.”

    Following graduation and after finding her footing in the artist community, Fisher discovered the Warner Brothers initiative from a friend on Facebook which prompted her to submit all her materials to the program in hopes of being selected. “At that point in time, I was quite disheartened. A lot of projects that I was auditioning for/preparing for were postponed due to the pandemic, and eventually, all were canceled. Even my survival job fell through,” she revealed. “When I saw the WBTV call, I felt a glimmer of hope. I knew I had to swing BIG.”

    After going through the process and being selected as one of the ten finalists, Fisher acknowledged the honor of being selected. “Being able to meet with the casting team and the showrunners at WBTV is amazing,” said Fisher. “The ability to create a long-lasting relationship with other creatives around the world is something that this pandemic has enabled us all to do. It’s opened me up to people I may never have been able to meet.”

    When all is said and done, Fisher shared that being an artist is “a lifetime commitment” and advises students and artists of the craft to remember that. She also reminded NYFA acting students to remember: “There will be many long days. It can be fun, exciting, the newness of the city and the students around you may feel like falling in love. It can also be challenging, strange, but pay attention. Time moves fast.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Lebogang “Lebo” Fisher on her outstanding achievement and looks forward to seeing what is next from the actress in her career journey.

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  • NYFA Alumni Majid Al Ansari and Razanne Jammal Involved in Netflix Original Series “Paranormal”

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    Not one, but two alumni are involved in Netflix’s first series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers for Arabic Netflix. NYFA Filmmaking alum Majid Al Ansari directs three episodes of the new series, with actress and NYFA alum Razanne Jammal starring as lead character Maggie Mckillop.

    Film poster for ‘Paranormal’

    Ma Waraa al-Tabea (in Arabic) or “Paranormal” in English, premiered on November 5, 2020, and marks Egypt’s first original series in addition to being the first Arabic Netflix series to accommodate deaf and blind viewers.

    The series is based on Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s thrilling book series about doctor Refaat Ismail, a cynical doctor whose lifelong scientific convictions are suddenly called into question. The Egyptian author’s critically acclaimed novels in Arabic have sold more than 15 million copies worldwide.

    NYFA alum Razanne Jammal in ‘Paranormal’

    Razanne Jammal attended NYFA’s 4-Week Acting for Film program in 2009 and has since built up a successful acting career, starring alongside Liam Neeson in A Walk Among the Tombstones and starring in Robert Guédiguian’s Don’t Tell Me The Boy Was Mad, which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. She now plays Maggie Mckilop in Paranormal, Refaat’s university colleague who enters the paranormal world to protect those around her from danger.

    Majid Al Ansari at a panel for Fantastic Fest in Austin, TX

    Director Majid Al Ansari attended NYFA’s 2-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program and went on to have his debut feature film Zinzana (“Rattle The Cage”) have its world premiere at Fantastic Fest and its European premiere at the BFI London Film Festival. Zinzana was subsequently picked up and eventually sold to Netflix as the first Arab film acquisition after the streaming giant branched out to the Middle East. He has director credits for three episodes of the Netflix thriller Paranormal.

    Still from ‘Paranormal’

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA Alumni Razanne Jammal and Majid Al Ansari for their involvement on Paranormal and encourages everyone to check out the new series if it is available in their country and looks forward to what’s next from the NYFA graduates.

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  • Soundarya Sharma Discusses Acting and New York Film Academy

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    Actress Soundarya Sharma is keeping active amid the Coronavirus global pandemic. She was in the middle of attending 4-Week Acting for Film Workshop at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus when the pandemic forced classes to be transferred from in-person to online learning.

    Soundarya discussed her experience at NYFA and her plans for the future. “I loved Richard Steinmetz’s class, techniques, and scene study. I loved his detailed explanations on how to be in the moment. Corey Pepper’s improv classes are also all about the presence of mind, which, I feel, is very important for an actor!”

     

     

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    Becoming an actress wasn’t always part of Soundarya’s plans for the future. “I completed my bachelor’s degree in dental studies and was pursuing residency opportunities in New Delhi, India – my hometown. It was during this time that I got audition opportunities which led me to the city of Mumbai. Once in the city, I realized that I want to pursue acting as a career.” Her decision to pursue a career in acting led her to the New York Film Academy. “NYFA is one of the finest acting academies in the world. I wanted to enhance my craft to an international standard and what would be better than to learn it at NYFA? Acting requires passion and craft which needs various modulations, NYFA is the best institute to mold you according to your skill.

    The COVID-19 global pandemic has been a challenging time for many. Soundarya has used this time to learn. “I have been spending most of my time learning Spanish online; keeping myself fit by hiking 10 miles a day at Runyon canyon; home workouts; swimming and yes, attending many of the NYFA webinars, they’re very helpful!”

    New York Film Academy can’t wait for what’s next for Soundarya Sharma!

     

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    November 4, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1047

  • NYFA Acting Alum Dan Gregory Discusses Success and Upcoming Projects

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    New Jersey native Dan Gregory has kept busy since attending an Acting for Film workshop at New York Film Academy (NYFA) back in 2010. He has won numerous awards for his acting and directing. NYFA caught up with Dan to discuss his career and future endeavors.

    He has collected a number of impressive credits and collaborations in a relatively short amount of time. “I’ve co-starred in Cabin Of Errors, a romantic comedy feature streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It was shot in New Hampshire. I worked with a talented group of artists from the acclaimed film company, Narrow Bridge Films. I’ve worked with Emmy Winner Obba Babatunde on a short film Speculo. I recently worked on a feature called The Elevator starring Oscar Nominated actor Eric Roberts and Directed by the gifted Jack Andrew Cook. I co-produced and starred in Karmen. It’s a short thriller that has won various awards at Film Festivals both domestically and internationally. I worked alongside brilliant women on that project including Loarina Gonzalez, Alexandra Faye Sadeghian, and my girlfriend (Award-Winning Latina Director) Jayleen S Perez.”

    “Cabin of Errors” starring NYFA acting alum Dan Gregory

    Dan hasn’t shied away from eclectic and challenging roles. “My favorite project to work on was Yellow Scare. I got to play dual comedic roles as father and son. A drunken pilot Shamus, and a simple-minded leader of a motorcycle gang named Tony. That performance won me a prestigious Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film Award at the 2018 Golden Door International Film Festival. The film should be hitting Amazon Prime soon. It’s currently available on Blu-ray.”

    His love for acting dates back to his childhood where he would often act out characters in real-life situations. “I loved playing characters since I’m a kid. In preschool, I jumped between being Donatello (a Ninja Turtle) and Egon (a Ghostbuster) in class. As you can imagine this was concerning to many people, but it’s starting to pay off!”

    NYFA Alum Dan Gregory and director Jayleen S Perez.

    Dan’s dedication to the craft eventually led him to the New York Film Academy. “NYFA was recommended to me by PJ Leonard, a film producer from Jersey City. I loved my time there. I took a 12-week acting course in 2010. My acting teacher, director, and comedian, Jessica Rotondi was a strong influence on me. I learned the importance of technique as well as being coachable and friendly while working on a project. I’ve taken those networking skills very far.”

    As for upcoming projects, Dan has two great projects in the works, Buzzkill Plam Beach and Cult of Blood. “I’m excited about these new films. Two very different parts but I pride myself as a versatile character actor, so I’m up for the challenge. In Buzzkill Palm Beach I play the second lead Jeff, a cool kind of dude alongside leading man & Director, Joe Vrola. It’s a sequel to The award-winning horror film Buzzkill New Jersey. We should start filming in November. It will be partially filmed on the Jersey Shore and mostly shot in West Palm Beach, Florida.  As for Cult of Blood, I’ll be playing a wild character named T-Rav, for the brilliant Director Robbie Lopez. That horror film shoots in Kansas City, Missouri in the Spring of 2021. It can be best described as Green Room meets From Dusk Till Dawn. It should be a wild ride.”

    I can say that I recently shot a gruesome horror short called Air B&D that will make its way to the film festival circuit soon. It’s a Jayleen S Perez film starring upcoming talent Molly Ester Wilson. The amazing Joey Mosca is a producer as well. I’ve worked with him on about 20 independent films so far. He can do it all on a film set. Also, I’m starring in a new Lance H Reja project called Not Alone with a gifted young Actress, Kristin Hutchins. Most notably, I will play a small role as Officer Barone in a psychological thriller called Mixxer. It’s currently in development starring Thomas O’Brian, Paul Mormando, and the amazing Tara Reid. I’m very excited about that. She is one of my favorite actresses.”

    In closing, Dan offered this advice to NYFA students and aspiring actors. “My best advice to NYFA students is to fully immerse yourself and have fun. I did well there because I wanted to be in class. I took several trains from Bayonne, NJ to Manhattan three times a week to be there. I tried to be the first person there and the last one to leave. I made a lot of friends in school. I had the time of my life. Our class became so friendly that we would often go out to party after. So, do the best work you can do at NYFA and make a lot of connections!”

    To keep up with all his latest projects visit Dan’s website. New York Film Academy wishes Dan Gregory continued success and can’t wait to see his upcoming projects.

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    November 3, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 452

  • NYFA Alum Jaq Walker Talks South Beach and The Round Table Collective

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    Jaq Walker is a recent graduate of the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s South Beach Campus. Walker who considers Memphis, Tennessee his home town grew up an army brat decided to attend New York Film Academy while he was serving in the United States Air Force in Italy. “I had a friend at the time tell me about it (NYFA) and it sounded like I had found my life after the military. A few years later, I noticed that I was burned out and no longer passionate about my military career and that’s when I  decided to let my superiors know that I was separating. My instincts led me to believe that I could make a better life through acting and creativity.” 

    His instincts led him to NYFA’s South Beach campus located in the heart of Miami. “Living in Miami, which is a growing market for the film industry, allowed me to venture outside of school projects and participate in local projects such as music videos and a couple of short films. The major highlight for me was when I got a crash course lesson as a film producer and as a casting director when myself and some of my classmates produced our own movie/tv show trailer concept called Shotgun. The purpose of producing this was to pitch it to showrunners and producers when an opportunity presented itself. Shotgun was filmed in just our second semester at the  NYFA acting program. We were hungry and talented individuals who wanted more than just classroom work.”

    "Shotgun" by The Round Table Collective

    Part of NYFA’s philosophy of learning by doing has students working with faculty members, all currently working in the industry, on a semi-individualized basis. This can have a profound and lasting impact on students, and that proved to be true for Jaq as well. “Patrice Arenas (NYFA acting for film instructor). She knocked me right out of my comfort zone and unshackled me when it came to performing different characters. She also gave a lot of  life lessons which only made me grow more as a human being.”

    During his time at NYFA, Jaq and four of his classmates created their very own industry network when they founded The Round Table Collective. “Five charismatic and artistic dudes: Tim Gray, Michael Bradway, Noel Cesar, Josh Reyes, and Yours Truly! We felt that in order to be successful in this industry you have to have a network of some kind. So when one of us is connected to a big production project, that would be an opportunity to refer one of the guys in the collective and promote their talents to producers, casting directors, and talent agents.  So when it’s known that Jaq Walker is associated with RTC (Round Table Collective), people would see our reputation as a whole and hopefully would want to do business with us. When one of us wins, we all win! Even though each of us has a different approach to creativity and different paths through life, we all have one common goal and that is to be impactful and influential in this industry.” 

    In honing his acting skills Jaq developed his desire to be challenged and expand his repertoire. “I’ve been called a ‘character actor’, a ‘throwback actor’ and I’ve been called a ‘Chekhov-style actor.’ These are all true descriptions of me but I feel that I’m just a storyteller with a big and vivid imagination. Most of the roles that I play and have played are alpha-male authority figures which I’m very happy to play. But I’m wanting to step into darker roles in psychological thrillers and I would like to play roles where I could perform as the ‘down on his luck’ Joe Blow/victim of society.”

    Jaq has worked to expand his skillset and put it use by writing his own projects. “During my time at NYFA, I was able to better my writing. So naturally, I like to create and produce my own material and create my own characters. I did so recently when I wrote a concept trailer for myself  called ‘The Janitor.’ It’s based on a character I created and was inspired by the  COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve already shot  and produced the trailer so right now it’s in post-production.”

    Jaq Walker in a scene of The Red State

    Jaq Walker in a scene of “The Red State”

    Jaq recently appeared in the sci-fi series The Red State and plans to continue his career in London while he seeks out his Master’s degree. As for some parting advice to NYFA students and aspiring artists, Jaq had this to say, “Network, Network, and Network. Meet and get to know other creatives on campus and in the local area. Apply what you learn at the school into creating your own stuff while in school. Don’t let it interfere with your classroom assignments but establish yourself as an actor or filmmaker early on in your NYFA journey.” 

    New York Film Academy wishes Jaq Walker continued success in his future endeavors and can’t wait to see what comes next!

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    October 29, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 583

  • NYFA Alum David Oulton’s Talk Show “Face to Face with David” to Premiere Season 2 on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum David Oulton is set to premiere the second season of his show Face to Face with David on Amazon Prime Video. 

    The show’s creation is a direct result of the restrictions set in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. “It came out of boredom during COVID. I’m sitting up here in Calgary, Canada losing my mind during the lockdown. I started mulling around with the idea of posting some FaceTime videos on social media, in line with what everyone else had been doing on Instagram and Facebook Live. Then it blew up and within about a week I had signed an agreement with Amazon, started hiring a crew, and it’s been a wild ride since. From conception to airing, the whole turnaround was less than two months and we’ve managed to pull it off.” 

    The objective of the talk show is pure entertainment. “I hope it brings them (the audience) a laugh or two and a quick escape from all the dreadful news we are being bombarded with lately. The concept of the show was to make the viewers feel as though they are listening in on a casual conversation between two people, and less of a formal interview. With a couple of exceptions, we mostly steered away from current events as well. It’s meant to be a half an hour of relaxing, easy watching tv to give yourself a little break.” 

    “Face to Face with David” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video

    Face to Face with David follows a talk show format and features notable guests such as Carson Kressley and Perez Hilton. David spoke of his process for acquiring his big-name guests. “With Carson and Perez, I had built a relationship with via social media. Ironically, they were a couple of the biggest names in season one, but the easiest and most down to earth to get on the show. Carson, for example, said to just text him on the day of filming and let him know when to be ready. Vernee Watson and Lawrence Pressman, both extremely accomplished and award-winning actors, I have known for a very long time. Vernee was absolutely hilarious in sharing her time at the Emmy’s and what it’s like behind the scenes.” The show also featured one of David’s acting instructors at NYFA. “Valorie Hubbard taught me at NYFA, so it was great having her on and to catch up. She’s been a constant mentor since I did the acting program, and we’ve kept in touch. Most of the other guests were booked through their managers of publicists with the producers on the show. We have a really great team in place.” 

    Carson Kressly on “Face to Face with David”

    David attended an Acting for Film Camp for Teens in Los Angeles back in 2010 after he received advice from an acting legend. “I came under the advice of Dame Judi Dench, who first suggested I find a great school in Los Angeles, especially since I was living in northern Canada at the time. After some research and visiting a few places, NYFA seemed to be the best suited.” He has since gone on to work on many successful productions. “Since NYFA, I’ve done about 15 film and television projects: Fargo, Galaxy Trek, Guns of Purgatory, The Agreement. But this show is definitely becoming bigger than anything I’ve done before for me personally.” 

    Of his time in the industry so far David said, I’ve learned to enjoy the process, but also to put the work in. If you show up to set prepared, knowing not only your lines but also your character and their story, the work is so much more fulfilling.”

    He also encourages aspiring visual and performing artists to invest in their future and take a chance on their dreams. “I think that if anyone is reading the post and considering NYFA, and they’re from a small or remote part of the world or they have no experience, think about the fact that I came down from Fort McMurray, Canada with nothing but a couple of high school plays under my belt. If I can take what I learned during my course and eventually get my own talk show, airing around the world on multiple networks, then I think anyone should and can take the chance. You really never know until you hit that ‘submit’ button on the application, and then the possibilities are endless.” 

    Perez Hilton on Face to Face with David

    As for a wish list of future guests, Oulten said he simply hopes to continue to provide quality entertainment. “Honestly, I don’t think I have a true ‘wish list’. I’m really just happy that anyone is taking the time to do our show and be authentic with their interviews. Perez was so fantastic, and really shared a lot of personal details which I wasn’t expecting. His interview was definitely a highlight for me. The second season is set to feature Vanessa Williams, Natasha Henstridge, Melissa Rivers, Pamela Rabe, Corbin Bernsen, Below Deck Med’s Captain Sandy, Ali Landry, and a host of other guests.  

    NYFA would like to wish David Oulton the very best on his second season of Face to Face with David which premiers on November 6, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video. The first season is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Google Play.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2095

  • NYFA Welcomes Actor & Director Mark Webber to ‘Q&A-List’ Guest Speaker Series

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited to host a virtual Q&A with actor and director Mark Webber to discuss directing his latest film The Place of No Words with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of NYFA’s Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Webber has been nominated for multiple awards for directing and acting. He is known for roles in films such as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, A24’s Green Room, Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, and more. He has also come into his own as a fully-fledged director with his fifth film as director, The Place of No Words, receiving ‘Best Film’ at the Giffoni Film Festival and nominations at Tribeca Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, and the Philadelphia Film Festival.

    Webber’s unique, realistic approach to authentic storytelling began with his first feature, Explicit Ills, where he used elements from his real life and included family members in his cast. He has since cast all his movies that way.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Mark Webber (Right) for NYFA’s Q&A List

    Webber, who shared he was happy to be talking online with NYFA’s students, recalled his upbringing with his teenage single mother and growing up homeless, citing that as a filmmaker he benefited from how he was raised as it allowed him to connect with different groups of people in the community. “These are the things I care about most in my life and I know how grateful I am to be in this position [an actor/director] because I know how vapid the industry can be.”

    The NYFA students and Laiter praised Webber for his recent film and asked him multiple questions about directing, his original filmmaking style, and honing his craft. “I started this process called ‘reality cinema.’ After screening my previous film, The End of Love at Sundance, I felt like I really found my voice. I am particularly fascinated by realism and acting in my own films. I paralleled a moment in the film where I cast my real father, who I hadn’t seen in years, in a scene where we meet face-to-face in real-time. It is deeply fulfilling to get to work on things with people you love.”

    Still from ‘The Place of No Words’ – Mark Webber (Left) and Bodhi Palmer (Right)

    The Place of No Words, in which a three-year-old (played by his son Bodhi Palmer) take a fantastical journey into the wood, to grapples with his father’s (Webber) terminal illness – something he cannot make sense of in real-world terms. his wife, Australian actress Teresa Palmer plays the mother- a real family affair.

    Laiter, who remarked how incredible Bodhi was in the film, asked Webber about directing and being a dad at the same time while on set and working alongside his family. “I can never stop being a dad. I have my dad hat on at all times and Bodhi’s emotional well-being and safety is the top priority for me,” he shared. “Some of the scenes, we would shoot as improv. There are moments of takes with that spontaneity anchored in the framework of the context of the story, so it allows for these moments that feel so authentic and so real take place in this film.”

    The film, part real and part fantasy, creates a colorful world for a child to begin to understand the biggest question of all, “Where do we go when we die?” Webber explained that he wanted the fantasy elements to still feel like reality. “I wanted it to honor the way I see my child’s mind working. So many of the fantasy elements there are from stories that Bodhi and I would tell each other and from stories I tell my own children.”

    Webber’s film pays off, being hailed by the likes of Variety and The New York Times calling it “sweet and personal.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actor and director Mark Webber for sharing his directing experience with NYFA students and alumni and encourages everyone to check out his beautiful and emotionally rich film, The Place of No Words, now available to watch on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and other streaming service providers.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting • Views: 342

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum George Carson on the Challenges and Rewards From Creating His First Feature Film ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

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    It can be tough and challenging to create any kind of film for the first time, but especially your first feature film. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum George Carson caught up with NYFA to discuss what it was like to create his first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and gave realistic insight into the challenging, but rewarding, process of filmmaking.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum George Carson

    Carson retired from the UK Fire and Rescue service in early 2015. It was then that he decided to pursue a professional career in acting and filmmaking. After studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and pursuing other workshops, Carson realized he wanted to specifically tap into Acting for Film. “I was already aware of NYFA but at that time never dreamed I would go there. I was over the moon to be accepted a year before I was due to retire and  I couldn’t wait to get away from the Fire Service and live in NYC,” shared Carson.

    While at NYFA, Carson recalls bonding with many of his classmates and how they made the short film The Evanescence while at school together. “The whole NYFA experience was just fantastic,” shared Carson. “The instructors had a wealth of real-life experience, unlike some ‘Drama’ teachers who have never been outside a classroom. The facilities were great and the interaction of the Actors course working with the Filmmaking course meant we had a whole bunch of new friends and collaborators.”

    Film poster for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    Carson’s latest film and first feature, GetMeLovedUp.com, which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in, has been submitted to various film festivals around the world and has already received several awards. The film follows lead characters Sharon and Kevin, who find themselves under pressure from friends and family to find a partner and sign up for an internet dating site. 

    “The inspiration was easy. I had been chatting to a friend in Glasgow one night and she told me about a particularly awful story that had happened to her on a date via an online dating agency,” explained Carson. “We then both shared funny stories about people we had met on these dates. I joked that I should write a film about it and a few months later the script was finished.”

    Carson shared that he had a vision for how he wanted to block the film (image below):

    But don’t let the blocking fool you. The wedding (Seen above) is not actually the lead couple. “For the film, I tried to make sure I avoided all the usual clichés,” shared Carson.

    On the challenges of making a feature film, Carson shared that it can be very different from making a short film. “The casting alone was a far bigger challenge than I imagined it would be. It took months and a considerable amount of time to cast the roles. It is an immense job,” he explained.

    George Carson blocking the scene for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum funded the entire film himself, so the project was working on a microbudget to produce the film and ensure the cast and crew got paid. “It meant having to do all the work ourselves. Meticulous planning and preparation were required at every step otherwise money would be wasted.” 

    Also an actor in the film, Carson shared that understanding the skills needed in front of the camera is just as important for directors to understand as well as actors. “Giving direction is all about clear communication with everyone,” shared Carson. “I don’t think a director necessarily needs a deep understanding of the actor’s craft, but there does need to be an understanding of the skill and directors need to be able to communicate clearly what they would like the actor to do performance-wise. Every word in every line can be delivered in about a million different ways.”

    “For example, the line ‘I will really miss you.’ The director has to let the actor know what they are looking for here. Will the character really miss them or is the character glad they’re leaving?

     

    An actor can say, ‘I will really miss you’ to a character on-screen with great meaning but, at the same time, the director can let the audience know that they actually hate the other character. It is this quality that a director has to tap into.”

    As for what incoming NYFA students should tap into when coming to study at NYFA, Carson says it’s all about studying, working, and learning from yourself and by others the mistakes that are made along the way. “There are very few overnight success stories. Acting and Directing are skills that can be taught and learned. Do the work and don’t worry about failing. Just get on with it. I could talk to you and show you YouTube videos about how to drive a car. But you still need to take the keys and get into that car and drive for yourself to be able to learn how to actually do it.” 

    Behind the scenes of ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum is set to appear in a few upcoming films that have been halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic and shared that GetMeLovedUp.com is expected to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon. The film can currently be found on Reveel.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum George Carson on his outstanding achievement of first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and encourages everyone to check out the film when it becomes available and for upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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    October 27, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 618

  • NYFA Acting Alum Sèdo Tossou Featured in “Dream Life” and Kaminski’s “Upgrade Reality”

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    New York Film Academy alum Sèdo Tossou has kept busy since graduating from the 1-Year Acting for Film program in Los Angeles. He recently completed a nine-episode stint on FYI’s Dream Life where entrepreneur Serena DC moves to Los Angeles to host her new celebrity talk show, Hollywood Disclosure, as well as launch the world’s first online dating school.

    Sèdo spoke about his character who works at the online dating school, The Love Academy. “The academy is a personal development school where guests like Deepak Chopra and Caitlyn Jenner come and talk about their love life and their different experiences as a way to inspire people. I play the web designer of the academy who was supposed to have technicians working for me but I end up having to do everything by myself which creates tension and conflicts. The goal is to make sure that the grand opening of The Love Academy is a success.”

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Sèdo Tossou appeared in 9 episodes of FYI’s “Dream Life.”

    “I had a great time working on the show,” recalled the NYFA alum. “The craziest thing is that shooting for the first season started only one week after graduating from NYFA. That was insane! I didn’t fully realize what was happening. I think I still don’t realize, actually,” he laughed.   

    The NYFA acting for film alum was born in Benin and raised in France had an artistic and active upbringing that ultimately led him to pursue a career in acting. “I’ve done a lot of artistic activities since was a kid. I have a classical music degree in piano, I’ve done martial arts (Viet vo Dao), guitar, singing, dancing (hip hop/dancehall) and a lot of sports too: soccer, tennis, track and field, tennis table, and badminton. I was always admiring American actors who can do everything.”

    His love for acting eventually led him to the New York Film Academy. “I visited the (Los Angeles) campus in the summer of 2018 and loved it right away. Such a beautiful campus! Knowing that I could go to Warner Bros Studios, the Universal Backlot, and especially, collaborate with other filmmakers and photographers is the main reason why I chose NYFA.”

    Another one of the reasons Sèdo chose NYFA was the practical experience and camera hours the program affords its students. “I was doing acting back in France and I knew that what you need as an actor is content to show. So having the possibility of getting footage that we shoot in school and also with other students in filmmaking was the best way for me to start a professional career as an actor. Finding an agent, submitting to casting directors, promoting yourself is all necessary if you want to work as an actor but if you don’t have any footage of your acting everything can get more complicated and difficult.” 

    He had this advice to offer current and future students, “Do not waste time! NYFA has so many resources and once you graduate you don’t want to have any regrets like,  ‘oh, I could have done this or I could have done that.’ Personally, I regret not having done my voice over reel. The studio was there and the teachers to help were there too but I procrastinated and (my studies) went by so fast. I still don’t have my voice over reel today.”

    For having only relatively recently entered the industry, Sèdo has already had the chance to work with a Hollywood legend. “I worked on Upgrade Reality, a film directed by two-time Academy Award-winner Janusz Kaminski who has been Steven Spielberg’s director of photography since 1993’s Schindler’s List. The film for which he won his first Oscar for best cinematography.” He’s also experienced working both French and American run sets. “I worked on multiple American projects when I was in France actually, like Jack Ryan on which I had a role in the first season. But the episode was shot in Paris and I noticed that the organization on US film sets was more streamlined than the French ones. It’s really about the pre-production, everything is so specific, all the shots are well planned, the crew knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, everyone is on time and I was impressed with that level of organization.” 

    Sèdo Tossou with Janusz Kaminski on the set of “Upgrade Reality”

    “I’m currently in Bénin, my home country,” said Sèdo of his current projects. “I just started my first company named ‘Sèdo N’Nogni’ which means ‘My name is Sèdo’ in Fongbe, the most spoken dialect in the country. My goal is for it to become the greatest art school and production company in Africa. At the moment, I’m focusing on organizing MasterClasses in acting, filmmaking, and business.”

    “This year, with the Black Lives Matter movement, I realized that it is not enough to post some hashtags and pictures about it (Black Lives Matter) on social media. We need to act. We need to uplift black voices and my goal is to make it happen in my country, Bénin. Every time I see a post of NYFA on social media, I see so many African people commenting  ‘This is my dream school. I’d love to study there one day.’ I know that it is not easy for an African person to move from their country and go to America to study arts. I want to help develop infrastructures in African countries so they can study there and realize their dreams of making movies.”

    In closing, Sèdo gave special thanks to the NYFA faculty. “Thank you NYFA for this wonderful year. A huge thanks to Miraj Grbic and Isabella Hoffman who were the best acting teachers I ever had. I hope one day I’ll be successful enough to become one of NYFA Guest Speakers.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Sèdo Tossou for his time and look forward to seeing what’s next for the young actor. We encourage everyone to check out Dream Life on FYI tv or on streaming service Amazon Prime Video.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 26, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 981