Community Highlights

  • NYFA Faculty Spotlight: Leander Sales

    Leander Sales is a New York Film Academy educator and a renowned editor. He’s worked with legendary director Spike Lee as an Assistant Editor on “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “Crooklyn.” He’s directed two feature films: “The Life I Meant to Live” and “Don’t Let Your Meat Loaf.” We sat down with Sales to ask him about his career, his time at NYFA, and what his students probably don’t know about him.

    What’s your education or professional background?

    I attended a year of college at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in the School of Drama. I then decided to travel so I went to NYC and worked as a security guard at Macy’s for a year and a half to save money. With that money, I moved to Florence, Italy for two years which was a very educational period in my life.  Professionally, most of my work was with Spike Lee on nine of his feature films, music videos, and commercials.

    What brought you to NYFA?

    The international student body is what attracted me to the school. I have a great appreciation for different cultures.

    What are some of your career or personal milestones that the NYFA community should know about?

    I am the Chair of the Motion Picture Editors Guild African American Steering Committee and our mission is to mentor fledgling filmmakers.

    Also, when I traced my DNA to Cameroon, Africa, it was a very important milestone for me.

    What are you working on right now?

    Editing a movie: “The Counter – 1960”

    What was the most satisfying project you’ve created or worked on in your career so far?

    “Do the Right Thing” as apprentice editor, “Malcolm X” as assistant editor and “Get on the Bus” as picture editor. “The Life I Meant to Live” as director/editor.

    What is your favorite course to teach?

    The course may vary, but I like teaching hungry students. Hunger cannot be taught.

    Leander Sales | New York Film Academy Faculty

    Is there a program or department at NYFA with which you’re closely involved?

    I’m closely involved with the documentary department and the acting department.

    What is one piece of advice that you would give incoming or current graduate students?

    The piece of advice I give to my students is to network.

    What is your favorite aspect of teaching?

    I love it when students recognize how valid their own life experiences are when creating their projects.

    What is most challenging about teaching for you?

    Language barriers.

    What is the most helpful advice you’ve received?

    Sometimes I can easily fix something but I have to let the student fix what’s not working, then at the end of the process, they can have a better sense of achievement.

    Growing up, what did you want to be?

    I always wanted to be a world traveler. I’ve seen a lot of Europe and I’ve been to Africa six times. Filmmaking is another way of traveling.

    Who has influenced you the most in life?

    My uncle Ron Dortch has had a huge impact on my life.

    What creators have influenced you the most?

    The people I’ve made movies with and watched solve problems. That list is very long.

    Where are you from originally? 

    Winston-Salem, NC.

    What do you do to take a break from work and teaching?

    Travel with my kids, play basketball with my kids, hike, play the guitar badly along with Eddie Hazel and Jimi Hendrix and cook with my kids.

    What is an interesting fact about yourself that your students and fellow Faculty might not know about you?

    They may not know that I often watch tv with the sound off.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Sales for his work with the school. If you’d like to learn more about Sales and his professional career click here.

    November 14, 2017 • Digital Editing, Faculty Highlights • Views: 200

  • NYFA Chair of Community Outreach Mason Richards Shows “The Seawall” at CCCADI

    NYFA Los Angeles Film Directing Faculty and Chair of Community Outreach Mason Richards wears many hats, both on and off campus — teacher, filmmaker, advocate, artist — and fearlessly explores these complex identities in his own artistic work. Right now, his film “The Seawall” is a part of an installation exploring trans-national identity, Afro-Caribbean culture, and diaspora with the (CCCADI) Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute gallery in New York City. If you’re in New York, hurry to see it before Nov. 30!

    Born in Guyana, Richards immigrated to the U.S. when he was just seven years old, an experience that inspired him to create and film “The Seawall” back home in Guyana. In the midst of pre-production for the feature version of “The Seawall,” Mr. Richards found the time to catch up with the NYFA blog to share his inspirations and his insights with our international community.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    MR: I started my career in the arts as a teen actor while growing up in New York City. I was one of the youngest members of a youth theater company called “The CityKids Repertory Company.” We wrote and performed theatrical pieces around social issues such a drug abuse, bullying, racism and identity.

    My transition from acting to directing happened around the time I was an undergraduate in college pursuing degrees in English (B.A.) and Human & Organizational Development (B.S.) double-major from Vanderbilt University. I directed my first theater play “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf” during my freshman year at Vanderbilt, and I knew from that point on that I wanted to be a director.

    Many years later after working in Hollywood at Paramount Pictures in marketing, I decided to return to school to pursue my MFA in Film Directing from Cal Arts (California Institute of the Arts). As far as teaching at NYFA, I’ve always known that I would work as an educator in some capacity. So when I heard about an opportunity to teach filmmaking at The New York Film Academy’s NYC campus I jumped at the chance — mainly because of the diversity of the NYFA student population, as well as NYFA’s “hands on” approach to filmmaking.

    I actually started teaching in the high school program at NYFA New York in 2014. Then when I moved to LA full time in 2016, I subsequently took on teaching more advanced filmmaking classes at the NYFA Los Angeles campus, focusing on directing and screenwriting.

    NYFA: As NYFA’s Chair of Community Outreach, can you speak to what community means to you and how you’ve seen it grow at NYFA?

    MR: In addition to being faculty in the filmmaking department where I teach directing and screenwriting, I am also the Chair of Community Outreach Department. I firmly believe that as artists, filmmakers, and creatives  it’s really important to give back to the community in any way we can — and especially now that there is such a push to increase diversity in Hollywood in regards to women and groups that have been traditionally underrepresented. I believe that it is important to live a life with purpose, and part of having purpose is service. So, as Chair of Community Outreach I feel like it give my life more purpose because I am able to be of service to the community.

    NYFA: As someone who has worn a lot of hats within the industry (acting, directing, community outreach, and more), how has your vision grown as an artist? Has shifting roles changed how you approach your work as a filmmaker?

    MR: Filmmaking is such a collaborative art form, and I believe that it is essential to be aware of all of the various jobs that people have on set. As for me, starting out in the business as a child actor and then moving into directing, I have a unique understanding of the process that actors go through from auditions, to rehearsals, to performance, etc. With that, I have lots of love and empathy for actors, and I always make sure that I’m not only concerned with the technical and cinematic aspects of a project, but also the performances are very important to me. It’s always a part of my vision to elevate the performances of the actors to ensure that they are truthful and relatable to audiences.

    NYFA: What inspired your film “The Seawall”?  

    MR: I was born in Guyana, South America, and like most Guyanese people, I left Guyana at an early age with my family in pursuit of a better life abroad in the United States. As a proud Guyanese citizen and passport holder, every time I return to my home country, I feel somewhat disconnected from the culture. This feeling is unsettling. It usually takes me a few days of listening to the cadence of the rich accents of my Afro- Indo- and Amerindian Guyanese people, in fish markets or liming on the seawall, then I start to feel more connected to the place and the people again. It’s always fascinating to me that Guyana can look and feel foreign to me in many ways, yet the sounds and optics contributes to making it feel very familiar, like “home” at the same time.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your collaboration with the LIMINAL SPACE exhibition at the CCCADI (Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute) came about?  

    MR: I was approached by the art curator, Grace Ali, who had been a champion of “The Seawall” short film. Grace felt like the film would add a nice texture to the exhibit featuring art from various artists of Guyanese descent. I’m just thrilled to be in such great company with some of the more talented painters, photographers and sculptors in the diaspora.

    The CCCADI is very deliberate about the art they showcase in their space, so the whole experience is just an honor. Many of us from the Caribbean diaspora, as well as other immigrants to foreign countries, struggle with a concept of “trans-national” identities — meaning that we are from another country; however, we’ve immigrated to the United States, where we’ve adapted to a new, dominant culture and way of life.

    With that, there are times when we as immigrants feel a sense of “disconnect” from our present culture while maintaining and sense of nostalgia for our place of birth. For immigrants, this can be a feeling like we have left something behind, back “home,” whether it’s family, our cultural identity, or simply our childhood memories. In my current film installation project, I wish to explore the disconnect between our cultural identity by focusing on the natural elements that connect me to my birth country.

    NYFA: Having left Guyana at age 7 for New York, many of our students may be able to relate to your story of immigration. What advice would you give to our students who are in transition between countries, and establishing their identity as artists?

    MR: As an artist and filmmaker, my creative and artistic intentions tend to center around themes of identity and belongingness. In my work, I constantly strive to explore questions around “who am I, where do I belong, and what does ‘home’ truly mean?” These questions, I believe are the pillars for a strong sense of self, and ultimately the foundation of character. As immigrants in America it’s important that we tell our stories and share the experiences of our culture. It only takes us one step closer to understanding each other as human beings.

    NYFA: You’re now preparing to produce the feature version of “The Seawall” — how has your process changed since producing the short?
    MR: For the feature film of “The Seawall” I have expanded the story so that the main character Malachi is now an adult struggling with becoming a new father and going back home to his country of birth. The process has been more intense than producing the short because it’s a longer format, but also because I’ve had to do a lot more research and development of the characters to make sure that they are telling their own truth. I’m excited because I have a great producing team to help me along.

    NYFA: What advice can you offer to our students who dream of making their own feature film?

    MR: The film industry is very tough, so in order to be successful, you have to be resilient and have faith in your dreams.

    NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?

    MR: I’m developing a television pilot about a Caribbean family adjusting to life in NYC.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mason Richards for sharing a part of his story with our community. “The Seawall” Short film will be playing at the CCCADI until Nov. 30 2017. To view the film online via Anansi Studios, click here. Visit the New York City exhibit at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, 120 E. 125th Street.


  • NYFA Student Showcase is a Success at DOC NYC 2017

    The 2017 edition of DOC NYC included another fantastic New York Film Academy Documentary Department Showcase, spotlighting the work of NYFA students. NYFA faculty also had work represented at the festival, which MovieMaker Magazine has named amongst the top 5 “coolest documentary festivals in the world.”

    NYFA President Michael Young with NYFA DOC NYC Documentary Filmmakers at the NYFA Showcase, IFC Center.

    Known as one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the U.S., DOC NYC is held annually at the IFC Center in Manhattan’s West Village. The 8-day festival provides a cutting-edge platform for documentaries and includes panels and conversations with industry leaders.

    This is the third year in a row that NYFA Documentary Filmmaking students have premiered their original work at DOC NYC. The five NYFA student films premiering at the festival were “Atomic Love” (Yusaku Kanagawa), “Home Free” (Marie-Chan Kasongo), “Little Red Lie” (Mariko Ide), “Jatar” (Braulio Jatar), and “Janguaribara” (Lucas M. Dantas). Following the special screening, students, faculty, and industry guests alike enjoyed the usual excellent day-long after party/reunion, networking with fellow filmmakers and documentary industry insiders.

    NYFA Doc NYC Showcase Poster

    “DOC NYC is one of the most important documentary film festivals in the world. It’s a huge honor to be included in their showcase for the third year in a row.  Luckily, our students are up to the challenge,” said Andrea Swift, Chair, NYFA Documentary Department. “These five films are as accomplished as they are diverse, which is representative of the majority of NYFA documentaries.”

    Three NYFA faculty members were also honored with film screenings at DOC NY: “Scotty Bowers and the Secret History of Hollywood” (featuring NYFA Digital Editing Professor Bob Eisenhardt, multiple Emmy Award-winner and Oscar nominee), “Hot Grease” (NYFA Documentary Department Producing Professor Jessica Wolfson), and “Atomic Homefront” (NYFA Documentary Department Cinematography Professor Claudia Raschke, four time Oscar nominee).

    DOC NYC Shorts Programmer Opal Bennet and NYFA Documentary Filmmaking Chair Andrea Swift with filmmakers.


  • NYFA to Screen Sneak Preview of “Porto” With Gabe Klinger and Larry Gross

    The New York Film Academy is excited to host an early screening of the film “Porto,” starring Lucie Lucas and the late Anton Yelchin. The event will take place at NYFA’s New York City campus on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

    Set in the ancient Portuguese city of the same name, “Porto” tells the story of an American loner, Jake (Anton Yelchin) and a French student, Mati (Lucie Lucas) who “embark on a night of carefree intimacy.” As the official plot describes it, “This romantic encounter is viewed from years later, both characters still haunted by the powerful connection they shared. Using a mix of film stocks and art direction that evokes a bygone era of European cinema, ‘Porto’ delivers a cinematic form of saudade – a Portuguese word that describes an emotional state of nostalgic longing for a person or place that one has loved.”

    Lucie Lucas & Anton Yelchin in "Porto"

    Lucie Lucas & Anton Yelchin in “Porto”

    The film was shot on 35mm, 16mm, and 8mm film stocks to represent the three different time periods — the one-night stand, the days surrounding it, and present day — represented in the story.

    Lead actor Anton Yelchin tragically passed away in an accident in 2016, and “Porto” is one of the final films he shot before his death.

    Lucie Lucas in "Porto"

    Lucie Lucas in “Porto”

    Director Gabe Klinger and co-writer Larry Gross will attend the NYFA screening and take part in a Q&A following the film. The Brazilian-born director previously directed the documentary “Double Play: James Benning and Richard Linklater.” Attendees will include NYFA Filmmaking, Acting, and Cinematography students.

    The film opens Friday, Nov. 17 in New York City at Sunshine Cinema and Friday, Nov. 24 in Los Angeles at Nuart Theatre. Watch the trailer for the film below:

  • NYFA Broadcast Journalism School Nov. 13 Updates

    Another week, another tragedy that journalists from around the world are sent to cover. This time it is in a small town called Sutherland Springs, Texas. In fact, it isn’t really a town: It is an “unincorporated area” governed by an adjoining community. Once again, it is a case of gun violence. And once again, “the first report was wrong.” But as Gizmodo effectively points out, often these weren’t stories based on fragmentary initial information. No, these were deliberate lies spread to promote somebody’s agenda. Google and Twitter were initially the chief purveyors of these falsehoods.

    In the echo chamber of social media, the gunman who systematically killed as many members of a small Christian congregation as he could “was a member of a ‘Pro Bernie Sanders Group,’ a ‘#MUSLIM Convert,’ ‘a radical Alt-left, with potential ties to ANTIFA,’ or named ‘Samir Al-Hajeeda.'” In fact, he was a white guy who had received prison time and a dishonorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, after being convicted of domestic violence. The Air Force failed to notify civilian authorities of the conviction, allowing the gunman to legally buy the weapons he used to commit mass murder. How did that information come to light? It was reported by a journalist … a real journalist.

    Lauren McGaughy of the “Dallas Morning News” wrote a touching “open letter” to the people of Sutherland Springs, apologizing for the way journalists and “media” had overrun their small community, robbing them of their privacy, and complicating an already tragic situation. There has to be a better way to cover events like this, but I don’t know what it is. (Do you have some ideas?) McGaughy said it all when she told the people of this small Texas town, “You’re more than a hashtag.”

    You may, or may not, be familiar with Cheddar. They are an upstart financial news service that aims to provide viewers in their 20s and 30s with information attuned to their needs and style. (They bill themselves as the “Leading Post Cable Network.”) It’s very different from CNBC, Fox Business News and Bloomberg TV. And that’s intentional. Personally, I prefer Asset-TV. But I’m prejudiced, because NYFA grad Gillian Kemmerer is an anchor and head of U.S. programming there. However, I do watch CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” where Broadcast Journalism workshop alum Cameron Costa works. (I can’t play favorites, can I?)
    Digiday reports that Cheddar anticipates revenue of $11 million this year. And a chuck of that will likely find its way into the launch of a general news off-shoot. You can bet that it won’t look like conventional network or cable news fare, as the folks who watch those platforms aren’t Cheddar’s target audience.
    Public broadcasting outlets are far less flashy, yet as in the classic children’s tale of “The Tortoise and The Hare,” the race doesn’t necessarily go to the fleet of foot. (And if you don’t know one of my favorite childhood stories, you can find it here courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress, no less.) Public radio was something of an endangered species, until podcasts came along. That allowed Public radio stations across the United States to get into the content business, where they could “push” programming to subscribers, instead of hoping that the audience would “tune in” to AM or FM broadcasts.
    Increasingly Public Radio stations are banding together to generate news programming relevant their particular region, instead of relying almost exclusively on programs originating from the East or West coasts. It’s a smart move, as it allows these stations to offer unique programming geared to local interests, and to cut costs through collaboration. And “doing more with less” is pretty much the mantra for most journalism outlets today, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.
  • Veterans Day: NYFA Honors Veterans and Colonel Jack Jacobs

    This week, our nation celebrates the men and women who have served our country in the US Military by paying special tribute to by honoring them on Veterans Day. Over the last seven years, nearly 1,500 military service members, veteran students, and military dependents, have selected the New York Film Academy (NYFA) to be the choice for their higher education.

    “Jerry Sherlock, who was a veteran of the US Air Force, founded the New York Film Academy 25 years ago and was always committed to making NYFA a welcoming learning environment for veterans who wanted to tell their own stories through the visual and performing arts,” stated Michael Young, NYFA’s President. “As a role model and leader to our veterans, we are honored to have, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, as the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program,” said President Young.

    NYFA in the Veteran's Parade

    NYFA in the Veteran’s Parade

    Colonel Jack Jacobs is an Army Veteran who received the Nation’s highest military honor for his heroism in Vietnam, the Medal of Honor. Colonel Jacobs, a media personality who can be seen regularly on MSNBC and NBC, and often on shows including Morning Joe, Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow, is one of only 73 living Medal of Honor recipients.

    Colonel Jack Jacobs at NYFA

    Colonel Jacobs interacts with NYFA’s veteran students on a regular basis providing them with encouragement, advice, and opportunities while they are enrolled at NYFA, and also when they return to the school for the many activities that the NYFA Division of Veteran Services arranges for veteran students and alums.

    While Colonel Jacobs may best be known by the public for his television work, his greatest passion is supporting the military community by serving on the board of numerous veteran non-profit organizations, and speaking at many veteran events. Recently Colonel Jacob’s gave the keynote at the 21st annual Military Ball, attended by over 700 military leaders, which was hosted by the Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation. In his speech, Colonel Jacobs noted, “There’s nothing like military service that gives young people authority and responsibility at an early age.” He continued,” People who serve time in a uniform can do anything… offering a job to veterans is not charity. These are ‘the’ best people.”

    The New York Film Academy Salutes the service of all US military Veterans This Veterans Day.

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    November 11, 2017 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 92

  • NYFA Mumbai Hosts Master Class With Co-Chair of Filmmaking and Virtual Reality Jonathan Whittaker

    With an eye to the increasing opportunities for collaboration between major international film markets, the New York Film Academy Mumbai held a three-hour master class bridging the filmmaking styles of the American and Bollywood industries. The Foundations of Filmmaking Master Class was led by filmmaker, producer, director, and NYFA Co-Chair of Filmmaking and Virtual Reality Jonathan Whittaker.

    Jonathan Whittaker is an educator and media production professional whose credits include “In the Loop,” “Louie,” “Trophy Wife,” and a four-piece Venus by Gillette campaign with Chrissy Teigan. He has created a 3D special for Sony Pictures, directed commercials for Nissan and Hyundai, and produced two feature films: “My Name is David” and “America Here We Come.” His collaborators and clients include Nissan, Sony Pictures, FILM.UA, DirecTV, MiSK, Gillette, Hyundai and Sports Illustrated. 

    In describing the workshop, Mr. Whittaker explained, “Students explore new skills for directors, actors, cinematographers, screenwriters, and producers, expanding their vocabulary for collaboration and storytelling. This is a wonderful way to learn more about American-style filmmaking and open new possibilities for collaboration between the U.S. and Indian film industries.”

    Opportunities for cooperation and exchanges between the Indian and U.S. film industries are now at an unprecedented level, with Bollywood films like “Baahubali: The Conclusion” breaking international box office records and Paramount announcing that it will distribute a Bollywood film for the first time. (“Padmavati,” will be released worldwide alongside the film’s Dec. 1 opening in India.)

    NYFA alumnus Rakesh Varre, who played Setu Patti in “Baahubali: The Conclusion,” has given credit to his education at NYFA for his recent acting success: “Taking that experience from NYFA, I was able to act as a major supporting role in ‘Baahubali.’”

    While the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has held workshops in India for many years, it opened its doors to a permanent location in Mumbai, India, in May 2017, bridging two of the world’s largest filmmaking industries.

    The New York Film Academy’s Mumbai, India location holds film and acting programs at the Urmi Estate, a modern 41 story skyscraper located in the heart of the city. 

  • NYFA Gold Coast Holds Sept. 2016 & March 2017 Filmmaking End of Year Screenings

    This October, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held a joined graduation screening night for Sept. 2016 Filmmakers and March 2017 Filmmaking at Event Cinemas in Pacific Fair.

    Students and guests gathered in the foyer, where they were photographed at our NYFA media wall before being ushered into the cinema to watch the end of year films. All graduating students screened incredibly diverse and high quality films that showcased their exceptional skills in the art of storytelling.

    Directing and Editing lecturer Trevor Hawkins stated, “It’s been a privilege to be part of these students’ journey in becoming future filmmakers. Filmmaking is a skilled craft. Having a good story also helps, and NYFA certainly gives a firm grounding on both counts. The result has been some of the most impressive end of year productions. I wish them all well and I hope to work with them again sometime in the future.”

    Deputy Chair of Filmmaking Brian Vining said, “The screening was a huge success, with a big turnout of current student filmmakers, family, supporters, cast members and alumni. We are very proud of the skills, motivation and talent of our graduating filmmakers.”

    Congratulations to the graduating students: Brad Smith, Emilie Chetty, Lynne Cairncross, Adam Anonuevo, Callum Taylor, Isaac Moit and Philip Paton. We are very proud of their skills, motivation and talent, and can’t wait to see them succeed in their chosen fields.

  • NYFA Gold Coast Celebrates March 2017 Actors’ End of Year Screenings

    This October, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held the March 2017 Diploma of Acting for Film end of year screening at Event Cinemas in Pacific Fair. The event included an opening reception for students, friends and family, and concluded with a screening of the students’ performances filmed throughout their year at NYFA Gold Coast.

    Acting Coordinator Louise Lee Mei said, “We are all very proud of the skill, motivation and determination of these students. Two special guests, Gael McDonald from Williams Management and Casting Director Cinzia Coassin, were in attendance to congratulate the graduates on their showcase scenes. As students prepare to enter our Advanced Diploma, the Acting for Film team look forward to further developing their professional skills for on-camera work.”

    Senior Acting Lecturer Adam Couper stated, “These students truly embraced the spirit of collaboration. They were a tight-knit and mutually respectful group and I think the work we saw showed how successful they were.”

    On behalf of all the staff and lecturers at the New York Film Academy Gold Coast, we would like to give our sincerest congratulations to the following graduating students: Amber Monaghan, Christopher Le Poidevinm, Ilavalu Tupou, Jake Dodds, Lachlan Crane, Lachlan Bliss, Olivia Samin, Shaunyl Benson and Tarnequa Pettet.

  • NYFA Hosts “Theater of War” Performance in Partnership with NYC Department of Veteran Services

    “A great man must live in honor or die an honorable death” were the weighty words spoken by actor Zach Grenier (“The Good Wife,” “Fight Club”), as he voiced the character of Ajax, the mighty Greek warrior. Grenier’s Ajax then turns to his wife, Tecmessa, played by the multiple Tony and Academy Award nominee Amy Ryan, describing the indignities and horrors he has suffered since returning home from the Trojan War.

    Inside the dimly lit walls of New York Film Academy’s (NYFA) campus theater on October 25, the student veterans and their supporters, over a hundred in attendance, were deeply moved by the performances by Mr. Grenier, Ms. Ryan, and NYC Council Member Jumaane Williams.

    Justin Ford, a U.S. Army Combat Veteran, NYC-based filmmaker, and NYFA Alumni, offered, “I never met anyone who sees [“Theater of War”] and isn’t moved — it’s an amazing emotional experience.”

    Like the fabled wars of antiquity, veterans returning home from modern conflict face challenges and obstacles with themselves, their colleagues, and their loved ones stemming from violence. Moral injury is at the center of the discussion that director of “Theater of War” Bryan Doerries hopes to start by utilizing ancient Greek plays to foster constructive community discussion.

    Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and one of the most decorated soldiers of the Vietnam War, gave an opening welcome to the audience before a panel discussion about the challenges and obstacles that come from the invisible wounds of war and combat followed the night’s performance.  

    “Knowing this issue is at least 2,500 years old, it seems silly that we aren’t rock stars at helping our veterans return home from war and give them the help, support, and an environment that facilitates healing,” said USMC combat veteran, infantry officer, and NYFA student, Caleb Wells, who participated in the night’s discussion as a panelist offering his own unique viewpoint on assimilating back into civilian culture after the experience of war.

    Theater has been recognized since the days of ancient city-states as a powerful medium for audiences to experience the release of negative emotions, or catharsis, through performance. Retired Brig. Gen. Commissioner Loree Sutton, MD of New York City’s Department of Veteran Services, has supported the dialogue through the City’s Public Artist in Residency Program, believing that an open dialogue is key to reducing stigma and encouraging sufferers of PTSD and moral injury to seek assistance.  

    “New York Film Academy, being an avid supporter of the veteran community and veterans in the arts, was eager to host the ‘Theater of War’ performance,” stated NYFA’s VP for Strategic Initiative Jim Miller. “The evening was important to us because we not only provided this powerful performance to veteran students, but our non-veteran students were able to better understand their classmates who have experienced war, and the scars that combat leaves on their emotions. NYFA is grateful to Commissioner Sutton and Mr. Doerries for this very special opportunity.”

    November 6, 2017 • Academic Programs, Acting, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, Veterans • Views: 318