New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy About Us


Acting for Film Department

Mark Mocahbee Mark Mocahbee
Chair of Acting for Film

Mark Mocahbee has over 35 years of professional experience as a director, writer, actor, and producer. His extensive work on both sides of the camera includes numerous film and theatre productions with such distinguished artists as Barry Levinson, Dustin Hoffman, Jon Jory, Edward Albee, David Petrarca, and Rebecca Miller. Mocahbee holds his BS and MFA degrees from The University of Miami, and has worked at many of the nation’s premier theatre venues, including the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Shakespeare & Company, and Actor's Theatre of Louisville. Mocahbee has served on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music, Xavier University, and Miami University at Oxford.

Neil Butterfield Neil Butterfield
Scene Study, Acting Technique

A native of Brazil, Neil Butterfield was introduced as a teenager to theater arts, voice, and drama in New York City. He followed his passion to study at SUNY and Carnegie Hall. He has a BA in Theater Arts and an MS in International Business. He has extensive experience as an actor, in voice-over, and in roles behind the camera creating sports, music, dramatic, and breaking news content for television, theater, and film. A SAG Actor for over twenty years Neil was most recently seen in Burn Notice set in Miami Beach.

Cesar Gracia Cesar Gracia
Improvisation, Meisner, Business of Acting

Cesar Gracia studied long form improv and sketch writing at the UCB Theater in NYC as well as Second City. Has appeared in several commercials and in 2008 appeared in a comedy short he co-wrote that aired on Comedy Central's Atom Tv. Cesar also stepped behind the camera as a cinematographer for "Short Steps" a short film which premiered at the Soho Film Festival in 2014. Prior to that he worked as a camera assist. for the spanish network Univision. While he was an alumnus at MDCC he studied Acting for Film, Meisner, Film and TV Production. Cesar enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience from both sides of the camera to future actors.

Gerald Owens Gerald Owens

BA in Speech Communication and Theatre Art, Wake Forest University; MFA in Acting and Directing, Florida Atlantic University. Gerald Owens is an actor, director, voiceover artist, and acting teacher who has been working in the entertainment industry since 1982. His work has included feature films, television series, TV and radio commercials, plays, and improvisational productions.

Professionally, Gerald has appeared on-screen and on-stage with such luminaries as John Travolta, James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Christopher Walken, Jeffrey Donovan, Alice Ghostley, Robert Hays, Sharon Gless, Tom Sellick, Robert Urich, Dennis Farina, Scott Caan, Michael McShane, Ann Crumb, John Schneider, Don Johnson, Keegan Michael Key, and Philip Michael Thomas, in addition to many other notable actors. He has also worked with such directors as Barry Sonnenfeld, Tim Matheson, Ted Kotcheff, Damian Harris, Allan Arkush, and many others and studied acting with Dom Deluise, Burt Reynolds, and Tony Sheperd, to name a few.

For five years, he was program chairman of Miami’s PAAF Actors’ Workshop, where he taught scene study, cold reading, monologue, and improvisation classes. He has also taught improvisation at the John Robert Powers School in West Palm Beach and directing for the Palm Beach State College Film Department. Gerald Owens served as the company’s producer, staff instructor, business manager, and artistic director of the Laughing Gas Comedy Improv Theatre Company.

Ika Santamaria Ika Santamaria

Ika Santamaria was born in Colombia and trained as an actor at the renowned Teatro Libre of Bogota. In 1995, she moved to New York City, studying screenwriting and cinema at New York University before creating an award-winning career as a filmmaker and director. From 2002 to 2008, Santamaria worked in the production and distribution of TV content and films for the South American market, groundbreaking work that gave her a unique insight into the logistics of the entertainment business. During this time she also managed work in theater, where she worked as creative producer, playwright, director, and actor, travelling and performing internationally.

Accolades include: awards from the Women’s International Film Festival and LDUB Film Festival; winning a competition at the Sundance Screenwriters Intensive, Miami, 2015; the Achievement Award for Best Film Director at the Women in The Arts 2013; WITA 2013 Filmmaker of the Year; and Best Actor at Miami Indie Film Club. Santamaria also wrote, directed, and edited “Flea Market Finish Line,” which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2013.
Ali Pour Issa Ali Pour Issa

Ali Pour Issa is an award-winning storyteller that has expertise in various professions such as film and theater directing, producing, scriptwriting, script development management, and dramaturgy. He has travelled extensively in the world and worked as an artist and instructor in many countries in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East. He graduated from the Yale School of Drama at Yale University with an M.F.A. in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism in 2011. Also, he holds an M.A. in Dramatic Literature and a B.A. in Scenic Design. He teaches Acting and Liberal Arts & Sciences classes at New York Film Academy.
Patrice DeGraff-Arenas Patrice DeGraff-Arenas

Patrice DeGraff-Arenas teaches Acting and Voice and Speech at NYFA. She is a Miami, Florida native with a BFA in Acting from Florida State University and an MFA in Performance from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a proud member of AEA and SAG-AFTRA. Her dedication to performance was encouraged early by her mom and furthered by acceptance into PAVAC (Performing and Visual Arts High School.) Stage roles in regional theatres across the country afforded many opportunities to discover professionally and absorb from theatre directors such as Joe Papp, Arthur Seidelman, and Tim Carol. Film credits include: The Jackson’s an American Dream and Exit. Teaching can be a collaboration that offers teacher and student possibilities as well as unlimited pathways to mastery. Voice and Speech are not separate from the work of an actor but a vital conduit to the soul of any performance.
Paul Tei Paul Tei

Paul Tei is the Artistic Director & founder of Mad Cat Theatre Company. Tei has worked as a director, actor, and producer in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Long Beach, Las Vegas, Moses Lake, Edinburgh & Manchester. A member of SAG/AFTRA, Tei has been in over 20 television shows and films, with recurring roles on Bloodline, Burn Notice, Zeke, and Luther. He holds an MFA from The Theatre School at De Paul University and teaches full time at New York Film Academy.
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