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  • Spring 2018 Highlights from NYFA Los Angeles’ Acting for Film Department

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    It’s been a busy semester at for the Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. In addition to our fabulous curriculum, we also hosted industry guest speakers, produced student-directed plays, saw our improv troupe return to the 80’s in a memorable performance, and an empowering performance from our dance troupe.

    Spring ’18 Student-Directed Plays

    This Spring’s series of student-directed plays commenced with The Shape Of Things, directed by Kylee Snyder. Neil LaBute’s play examines the protagonist’s relationship to her art, which she uses as a form of manipulation and punishment,  crossing the line and justifying self-serving behavior.     

    Five Women Wearing The Same Dress was directed by Nurgul Salimova. Alan Ball’s hilarious play about five very different bridesmaids all hiding out to escape the bride that none of them even like. Over the course of the play, they laugh, cry, fight, reveal secrets, and ultimately find a common connection in sisterhood. The creative set design was a true delight.

    Madison Miller and Jonas Grosserhode in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

    The Greater Good Rebecca, directed by Kia Queener. This dystopian play by  Rebecca Gorman O’Neil explores the consequences when citizens don’t take action, blindly follow orders, and allow a government to silence dissenters.

    Stefan Leach, Bella Ferraro, and Evan Annisette in The Greater Good

    Women and Wallace is a one-act play by Jonathan Sherman and directed by Luke Sweeney. The play explores how a young man learns to navigate relationships with women after the suicide of his mother. By the play’s end, Wallace learns to forgive his mother and gains the ability to love again.

    Cock was directed by second-time student director Jeremiah Lucas. The play is a sharp witty study of the sexual identity and the paralyzing indecision that stems from stigmatization of same-sex orientation. The engaging and well-staged play was written by Mark Barlett.

    Jeremiah Lucas director of Cock

    Picasso at The Lapin Agile by Steve Martin and directed by Alon Fischer. What would happen if Einstein and Picasso met in a local watering hole (and hell throw in Elvis), and you have an uproariously funny play that asks the question what is genius and creativity? And, who do they belong to?

    Jacob Douglas Wolfe in Picasso at The Lapin Agile

    A Cell Phone Symphony id an original play written and directed by our BFA student Michael Anthony Johnson. It’s a contemporary comedy that included rap, pop music, Thriller-esque dance numbers, and a cell phone game. It takes place in NY and asks the question: what happens to our relationships when we have a more intimate connection to our phones than we do to the people in our lives. 

    Improv Troupe

    The first Improv Troupe Showcase was held on Thursday, April 5 at the Groundlings Gary Austin Stage after a four-month rehearsal process.  The company  – selected by audition from alumni and current students – performed for a sold-out crowd of industry professionals – including networks and top-tier talent agencies, managers and casting directors. The show was directed by LA Faculty Suzanne Kent and George McGrath, both Groundling alumni. The troupe wishes to thank Lynda Goodfriend and Anne Moore for their hard work and support.

    This spring, the Glee Club at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held a 1980s music concert — and it was a huge success!  

    The Glee Clubbers put up seminal hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Smiths, Guns and Roses, and DEVO. Glee Club faculty supervisor Melissa Sullivan said, “It has been an amazing experience to musically direct this multi-talented group the last two years. Throughout the semester, I have seen students flourish and grow through music.”

    To create a true pop sound for the music of this semester’s concert, the Glee Club utilized microphones — for some students, it was their first experience using mics. Sullivan had mics set up in rehearsals so students could learn mic singing technique. The event was also choreographed and staged with the help of students Sunny Amara and Jasmine Mensah.  According to Amara, “My experience in Glee Club has been everything I imagined; a group of talented people who just want to have fun, work hard and make beautiful music. I’ve become great friends with these people very quickly and we’ve become a little glee family!”

    Sullivan had this to say about NYFA Clubs in general: “What I find amazing about the clubs that NYFA has to offer is that the students involved are usually in more than one club. Some of the Glee Club students are also in the Dance Troupe. I believe these clubs are beneficial to student’s growth. They are collaborating with students outside of their class and have an additional creative outlet. “

    NYFA’s Glee Club is usually comprised of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, and guided by strong student leadership and collaboration. This semester, the club had BFA student Rachel Gordine as assistant musical director, and the sections’ leaders were BFA student Rachel Gordine (sopranos), BFA student Paige Conroy (altos), AFA student Ethan Williams and BFA student Zackary Nel (tenors), and BFA student Zane Hudson (bass).

    Next semester the New York Film Academy Glee Club will be putting up the music of Broadway, and possibly collaborating with the NYFA Dance Troupe. It’s a very exciting time here in Los Angeles, and the Glee Club hopes you can join them at next semester’s show.

    International Women’s Day

    On Thursday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, a panel of entertainment industry women assembled to discuss their experience working in the industry and provide advice to our students in what was a highly informative evening.

    Event Details:

    “A Woman’s Place is In the Industry”-  Perspectives on Women in the Entertainment Industry: a Panel Discussion on the landscape for women today in different areas of the entertainment community, and in the interest of our students, who are the future of entertainment, answer the question – “How do we create a different, more empowering culture for women in the industry?”

    Panelists:

    Dea Lawrence

    – Chief Marketing Officer for Variety. As CMO, Dea is responsible for driving Variety’s global branding and communications strategy, including overseeing the marketing and production of their 70 annual events and summits along with the Variety Content Studio which creates storytelling for brands.

    Kelly Gilmore

    – former Senior Vice President of Global Toys for 28 years at Warner Bros. Consumer Products responsible for licensing intellectual properties such as DC Comics, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes to major global toy companies including Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, Jakks Pacific and Funko. When Kelly left in 2016, her team had the biggest financial year in the history of her career, winning nine toy awards. Since retiring in 2016, Kelly enjoys floral arranging, gardening, cooking, spending time with her dogs and mentoring a 14-year-old girl.

    Barbara Bain

    – a 3 Time Emmy Award Winning Actress, Barbara is perhaps best known for her role as Cinnamon Carter in “Mission Impossible” for which she won 3 consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Barbara is also well known for her philanthropy work. Among her many charitable activities, Barbara is the founder of the Screen Actors Guild’s “BookPals” Program that has colleagues reading to children in schools all around Los Angeles.

    Jeanette Collins

    – Producer/Writer. Jeanette and writing partner Mimi Friedman started their careers writing on “In Living Color” where they were nominated for an Emmy. Many half-hour comedies followed including “A Different World”, “Suddenly Susan” and “Will and Grace”. After 2 seasons writing for the HBO series “Big Love”, they joined the staff of “Dirt”. They are currently developing a mini-series for HBO about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Winship Cook

    – Independent Producer. Winship worked in network television at Paramount Pictures on shows such as “Down Home” and “Fired Up”. She Co-Executive Produced “The Family Plan” a movie for the Hallmark Channel. Winship worked as a Producer and Vice President of Development for The Edward S. Feldman Company, where her credits include “102 Dalmatians” starring Glenn Close and “K-19: The Widowmaker” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. As a theater producer, Winship developed and produced the one-man show “RFK” that in its Off-Broadway incarnation was an award-winning show directed by Larry Moss.

    Valorie Massalas

    – Casting Director/Producer. Valorie’s prolific, extensive casting career includes such features as “Back to the Future 2 & 3” directed by Robert Zemeckis, “Indiana Jones” and “Total Recall” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.

    Ronnie Yeskel

    – Casting Director. Ronnie’s career casting countless films and television shows includes such iconic features as “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” for Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for Larry David on HBO.

    Elvi Cano

    – Executive Director at EGEDA US & Premios Platino. Elvi and her teams In Los Angeles and Miami provide assistance to Spanish and Latin American filmmakers serving as a liaison facilitating relations between the US film industry and those of Spain and Latin America. She has been actively involved in the production of the 4 editions of The PLATINO AWARDS OF IBEROAMERICAN CINEMA in Panama, Spain & Uruguay and is the talent producer/head of talent for the Awards.

    Lisa Guerriero

    – Lisa Guerriero began working as a Camera Assistant in Los Angeles in 1989. She has worked on feature films and television shows such as “Fight Club”, “Lost Highway”, and “Mad Men”. Lisa has been on the Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 since 2001 and was the Co-Chair of their Diversity Committee for four years.

    Jana Winternitz 

    – an award-winning producer and actress having produced over 70 projects including “The Thinning Franchise”, “Internet Famous” and “Funny Story”. She has worked with Legendary, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Focus Features along with a slew of wonderful talent including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Angela Bassett. Jana enjoys generating strong and complex female roles for the screen.

    STAND-UP FOR WOMEN!

    On March 7th, at the NYFA Theater, we hosted a benefit for women helping women (WHW). “Stand-Up for Women” was hosted by Lisa deLarios, featuring performances by stand-up comics: Laura House, Kate Willet, Vanessa Gonzalez, Jena Friedman, Jessica Sele, Annie Lederman, and Ellington Wells, and NYFA faculty member Jackie Kashian. The fabulous collection of talent was assembled by Peri Litvak.     

    Dance Troupe 

    The theme of our upcoming show and Troupe is Diversity and Empowerment through Community and Purpose – To dance, create, express, entertain and have fun.

     As Dance Troupe is an extracurricular class students audition and once accepted, commit themselves to creating together and putting up a show of original works at the end of the semester. These students love to dance, choreograph and perform. The dance styles are diverse from Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Contemporary, Salsa, Belly Dance to Bollywood! They are all very dedicated and happy to be part of a dance community at NYFA where they can meet other students, have fun and dance off their stress as well. This will be the biggest show we have put on so far and we are really excited about it! This semester we have 27 dancers and we will be showcasing 18 original pieces!

    Students have to audition at the beginning of the semester to get in to Dance Troupe. We audition dancers and choreographers. It meets every Friday night in Bogart from 7:15pm to 10pm. Who is evolved – NYFA students which include the Acting Department, Film Department and Alumni. 

    The rehearsal process is pretty straight forward  – Choreographers show there pieces, then teach a part of their choreography to the dancers who are interested. Then the choreographers select the dancers they want in their piece –  for the most part the choreographers try to accommodate as many dancers as possible. Choreographers set up outside rehearsals with their dancers and present their progress on Friday night when we meet. If there is time left over we break the time up and let different choreographers work on their pieces. These rehearsals are highly productive to say the least!

    Here’s what the students had to say about it:

    “Being apart of dance Troupe Has allowed me to explore a side of myself that’s filled with passion, leadership and overall growth and love for everyone involved. The progress of the troupe is incredible!:” – Jacqueline Hahn

    “I get an outlet for myself to express my creativity without the pressure of grades and succeeding in my major” – Lotta Lemetti

    “Dance Troupe has made me a happier, joyful and motivated artist to express my feelings through creative movement” – Derek Ramsay

    “It’s a different medium of art I get to explore. I can give myself so much freedom through dance.” – Julia Newman

    ” Dance Troupe has really helped me to open up as a person. It helps me to express myself without words, just through body language, which ultimately helps me in my acting. In addition, I met a lot of amazing and super talented people, who I am great friends with now.” – Danel Azimova

    ” I get out of Dance Troupe the feeling and opportunity to reach out to others. I am able to interact with dedicated dancers that support one another. Just like any other branch of art, I can tell a story and get a message across, but in this case through music and movement.”- Sabrina Hartmann

    “Every rehearsal is amazing for me because I’m getting a lot of energy, love, good vibes, laughter and good workout.” – Elizaveta Emerenko 

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    June 14, 2018 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 157

  • New York Film Academy Division of Veterans Services Welcomes Casting Director Robert McGee, C.S.A as Guest Speaker

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Division of Veterans Services (DVS) recently welcomed NYFA’s veteran students and alumni, together with members of Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME), to a screening of the hit animated series Rick and Morty. Following the screening, the audience was treated to a Q&A with casting director extraordinaire, Robert McGee, C.S.A.

    The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all of which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran students, as well as the wider veteran communities, in Los Angeles, New York City, and South Beach (Miami).

    In addition to Rick and Morty, McGee has cast such hit shows as The Cleveland Show and Wizards of Waverly Place, as well as successful films such as The Virgin Suicides and World’s Greatest Dad, which starred Robin Williams. McGee is currently casting the newest rendition of The Adams Family, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll, and Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron.

    With over 20 years of experience in the casting business in both live action and animation, McGee enjoyed sharing valuable insight on the casting process for both live action and voice over work. McGee is very passionate about the casting business and enjoys meeting actors.

    “The Q&A with Mr. McGee was very insightful,” said NYFA BFA Producing student and U.S. Navy veteran Jonathan Garza. “As a Producing student it was very informative, learning the complexities of what a casting director goes through and how intricate the casting process is.”

    The New York Film Academy thanks Robert McGee for his generosity and willingness to help veterans pursuing careers in the film industry.

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  • New York Film Academy Instructor Joe Burke Releases Another Cancer Movie Indie Short

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    For many passionate filmmakers, one of the greatest challenges is bringing a film to life in spite of budgeting hurdles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Directing instructor Joe Burke recently set a great example with how to execute a clear, enteratining, artistic vision on a shoestring budget with his newly released comedy, Another Cancer Movie. Check out his film, and his insights on indie production for NYFA students, below.

    ANOTHER CANCER MOVIE from Joe Burke on Vimeo.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to teach at the New York Film Academy?

    JB: I started out making films at a very early age. I was eight years old when I first picked up the camera, and I haven’t put it down since. I studied film and acting all growing up, and eventually went to film school in Chicago, followed by grad school at the American Film Institute in LA. Once my career began to start growing after grad school, I found myself getting to a point where I really missed the film school setting. Hollywood can be a crazy place, and a lot of the “business” side of things can unfortunately interfere with the artistic side, and it can be very frustrating. It’s very easy to lose yourself in it all. For me, it was very important to reconnect to the fundamentals of why I really wanted to be a filmmaker, to reconnect to the actual craft and art of it all. I decided to pause on my career for a moment, and shift my energy back to film school. I love being in the classroom, both as a student and as a teacher.

    I was thrilled to join the NYFA staff and teach Directing. I love teaching. I love making films. I love inspiring my students, and even more so, being inspired by them.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments or memories from your time teaching with us?

    JB: I am very proud of the students I have taught. I have come across many talented young filmmakers who I see very bright futures for: it’s always inspiring to witness. I have found myself many times taken aback by the power of some of my students’ work. Those are my favorite memories.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most? What kind of stories are you most passionate to tell?

    JB: I love telling stories on film. For me, it’s all about capturing the heart and sole of people, of characters. To shed a light on both the drama and natural comedy that exists in all our lives. I love human stories that are grounded and relatable. I love making an audience truly feel something. I naturally lean towards humor, because I think a strong sense of humor is so important in life — but it has to come from an honest place. That’s why it’s funny; because it’s true.

    NYFA: For our students interested in making their own shorts outside of school, what is your best advice about producing on a shoestring indie budget?

    JB: My best advice would be write a film around a location that you can shoot at for free. If you have a location(s) you know you are able to shoot at, write your movie with that in mind. It’s what we did with Another Cancer Movie, as well as what I have done with many of my films — including our last one, House Sitting, and even my first feature Four Dogs.

    Also, find friends you like to work with and trust. Build your community of people who will be there for you, and work for you because they believe in what you’re doing. Don’t feel the need to pay everyone the big bucks early on. Work with people who understand you have a tight budget, just make sure to feed them well! Great food on set goes a very long way. And of course, keep a very positive and fun energy on set. As the filmmaker, you must set the tone on set to keep everyone in good spirits. It’s a team effort, but the director is the leader.

    NYFA: What’s next for Another Cancer Movie?

    JB: Another Cancer Movie just had its world premiere online. We’re stoked to finally be releasing it. This is a very personal movie to us, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone.

    NYFA: What’s next for you? Any other projects upcoming you can tell us about?

    JB: Right now, the big focus is developing a TV show with a buddy of mine. I can’t talk too much about it at the moment, but it’s an exciting project for us. I am also working on a couple of other screenplays, and acting in a few fun projects as well.

    Thank you so much for having me be a part of this. For those folks who would like to keep up with what I am doing, they can find me on Instagram/Twitter @joeburkefilm and my website joeburke.net

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  • Resilience and Art in Puerto Rico at the Heart of New York Film Academy Alum Dr. Ariel Orama Lopez’s Work

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    While mainstream media has largely neglected coverage of the ongoing repercussions of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, one New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum is working tirelessly to not only help to rebuild and support his country, but to bring the authentically lived stories of the people and culture of Puerto Rico to light.

    This month was very busy for NYFA Acting for Film alum, college professor, clinical (media) psychologist, Buscapié ENDI columnist, actor and director Dr. Ariel Orama Lopez, who traveled from Puerto Rico to New York City to present the short film A Mis Queridos Reyes (as one of the producers and the leading actor), to be shown at Enfoque International Film Festival. He presented this film as a part of the artistic collective at The Motherland Resists in New York, joining with fellow community and thought leaders to share stories and raise funds for artist communities and the continued recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. While visiting New York, Dr. Ariel Orama also participated in the prestigious NYU Network Summer 2018 seminar Gender and Sexuality in Film. William Luhr, principal speaker of the seminar and writer of the book Screening Genders, selected Dr. Ariel’s award-winning short film Esteban (Spain, California, Florida and PR), to be presented and discussed in a forum with academics from around the world.

    His recent projects include SOMOS and the short film Erick, in which he starred, was selected by the Puerto Rico Queer Film Festival, and the premier was held at Fine Arts Cinema in Miramar, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Dr. Ariel recently began teaching drama at the University of Puerto Rico alongside his role as a social sciences professor, and credits his training at NYFA with a major influence on his approach. And two more short films are coming up soon!

    Dr. Ariel took time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts on art, recovery, and a multidisciplinary understanding of media with the NYFA Blog.

    NYFA: Congratulations as you step into the role of professor of Drama, Humanities & Social Sciences at University of Puerto Rico (UPR)! What does this new role mean for you?

    Dr. Ariel: First of all, thank you very much for the wonderful experience of sharing my new projects with my beloved NYFA. Since 2000, I started a parallel search in acting and psychology, a journey took me to a) NYFA Los Angeles to study Acting for Film; b) take one year of graduate courses in contemporary media and culture from the perspective of “performance” and film; c) carry out research in psychodrama and the Almodovarian film, and; d) expand my work in praxis in both professions.

    My integration as a psychologist immersed in the media field, as a communicator, and as a professional actor, allowed me to study the different faces of entertainment: that of the spectator, the producer, and the executor of the fine arts, summing more than 200 projects on arts.

    It is a great honor to be part of the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities in the UPR System, which I consider a dream achieved in a very short time.

    En primer lugar, muchísimas gracias por la maravillosa oportunidad de presentar mis nuevos proyectos en mi amada NYFA. Desde el 2000, inicié una búsqueda paralela en Actuación y Psicología, cuyo caminar me llevó a Los Ángeles a estudiar Acting for the Film en NYFA, a tomar un año de cursos graduados en Medios y Cultura Contemporánea desde la mirada del “performance” y el cine, a efectuar investigaciones en psicodrama y el cine almodovariano, así como a ampliar mi quehacer en la praxis en ambas profesiones. Mi integración como psicólogo inmerso en los medios, comunicador y como actor profesional me permitió estudiar las diversas caras del espectáculo: la del espectador, la del productor y la del ejecutor de las bellas artes. Es un gran honor poder formar parte del Departamento de Ciencias Sociales y de Humanidades en el Sistema UPR, lo que considero un sueño logrado en muy poco tiempo.

     

    NYFA: What is your day-to-day like at UPR?

    Dr. Ariel: My interaction with students in the classroom is equivalent to a performance. Each experience I acquire is nuanced with the knowledge associated with films and other audiovisual experiences, so that when I teach my courses and theory I can show that I have additional tools and metaphors to inspire each student to create in his mind a three-dimensional image of what he has learned.

    I am passionate about knowing the recent-ness of what I teach. I enjoy observing the creations and manifestos that my students make through group processes, or even through manifestos that they elaborate from the privacy of the home and then they show me in class — a work of art, an article, or an investigative work, are only some of the fruits that have emerged, which makes me feel infinitely honored.

    Theoretical learning alone is not enough to address the student of the 21st century: for all of this, the possibility of being a hybrid professor — immersed in several disciplines — provokes curiosity in my students, from different angles. It is the search for the “Uomo Universale” (Renaissance man) proposed by da Vinci, my only north.

    Mi interacción con los estudiantes en el aula de clases es equivalente a un “performance”: cada vivencia que he adquirido está matizada con el conocimiento asociado a filmes y otras experiencias audiovisuales, de tal manera que cuando imparta mis cursos y la teoría pueda demostrar que tengo herramientas y metáforas adicionales para inspirar a que cada estudiante pueda crear en su mente una imagen tridimensional de lo aprendido. Me apasiona conocer lo reciente de lo que enseño: de igual manera, disfruto de observar las creaciones y manifiestos que efectúan mis estudiantes a través de procesos grupales o incluso a través de manifiestos que elaboran, desde la intimidad del hogar y luego me la ensenan en clase: una obra de arte, un articulo o un trabajo investigativo, son solamente algunos de los frutos que han surgido, lo que me honra infinitamente.  El aprendizaje teórico, únicamente, no es suficiente para abordar al estudiante del siglo XXI: por todo ello, la posibilidad de ser un profesor hibrido -inmerso en varias disciplinas- provoca en mis estudiantes la curiosidad, desde distintos ángulos. Es la búsqueda del Uomo Universale, de da Vinci, mi único Norte.

    NYFA: Will what you teach be influenced at all by what you learned at New York Film Academy?

    Dr. Ariel: Definitely, what has been learned in NYFA will influence my paradigm of teaching at the undergraduate level. The practical tools of performance that we acquired in the Academy, added to the respect for the technique and cultural diversity to which we are exposed, will allow me to offer my students not only a national approach, but an integrated and multicultural one.

    The digital platforms and the countless festivals existing in the world are only a way to spread our art: it is important that students can recognize the immeasurable value of exposing themselves to festivals and consecutive projects, as NYFA invites us; to recognize the value of immediacy and the multiple hats required by the actor when disseminating their projects to the world. In my case, I have received laurels from Spain, California, Orlando, Miami, Martinique, Italy, among other national achievements.

    Definitivamente, lo aprendido en NYFA influirá en mi paradigma de enseñanza a nivel subgraduado. La mirada práctica de la actuación y del “performance” que adquirimos en la Academia, sumada al respeto por la técnica y a la diversidad cultural a la que somos expuestos, me permitirá brindarles a mis estudiantes no solamente un enfoque nacional, sino uno integrado y multicultural. Las plataformas digitales y el sinnúmero de Festivales existentes en el Mundo son, solamente, una vía para difundir nuestro arte: es importante que los estudiantes puedan reconocer el valor inconmensurable de exponerse a Festivales y a proyectos consecutivos, tal como nos invita NYFA: que reconozcan el valor de la inmediatez y de los múltiples sombreros que requiere el actor a la hora de difundir sus proyectos en el Mundo. En mi caso, he recibido laureles de España, California, Miami, Orlando, Martinica, Italia, además de otros reconocimientos nacionales.

    NYFA: Are there any NYFA instructors who have particularly inspired your teaching philosophy?

    Dr. Ariel: Although Denis McCourt was one of my major influences in my acting courses, I must also point out that each of the stories I read from my NYFA colleagues around the world are my inspiration to continue exploring other facets. For example, I will make an incursion soon into dubbing, which adds to my experience as a) coach in reality TV shows; b) professional TV collaborator; c) laureate actor in short films at international festivals; and c) theater, voice over, and series actor.

    As I have always said, I dream of one day offering the first module of “acting psychology of character” in Spanish for NYFA, and belonging to the privileged group of outstanding students of NYFA around the world. It is a great responsibility and a great motivation to continue developing in my field of study.

    Aunque Denis McCourt fue una de mis grandes influencias en mis cursos de actuación, también debo destacar que cada una de las historias que leo de mis compañeros destacados de NYFA alrededor del Mundo son mi inspiración para seguir explorando otras facetas. Por ejemplo, recién incursionaré en el doblaje, lo que se suma a mi experiencia como colaborador profesional de TV, coach en programas de Telerrealidad, actor laureado en cortometrajes en Festivales internacionales, al igual que como actor de teatro, locución, series y voiceovers. Como siempre he dicho, sueño con ofrecer el primer módulo de actuación o de psicología del personaje en español para NYFA y con pertenecer al grupo privilegiado de estudiantes destacados de NYFA alrededor del Mundo: es una gran responsabilidad y una gran motivación para continuar desarrollándome en mi campo de estudio.

    NYFA: What inspired you to want to teach drama?

    Dr. Ariel: The highest aspiration of any expert in a profession should be to teach at the university level. In my case, the opportunity to be an assistant professor of psychology and now of acting, even being young, is a blessing — and a consequent achievement of an active preparation, throughout my whole life.

    In my case, I have been exposed to brains and real human bodies, from the medical anatomy; I have studied the visuality and the Almodovarian film, from the academic angle; I have been a coach; have collaborated with or served as a columnist in the media for young actors and singers who have been honored around the world, some on Broadway, off-Broadway, in reality shows, in NY or in Los Angeles; I have had the opportunity to direct short films and act in them; been awarded and screened in countries that I have not visited; I have taken courses in psychoanalysis and I know the spectrum of mental diagnoses and their different emotions, from different angles; I have reviewed plays, consistently, in the Puerto Rican distinguished press; I exposed myself to the media from its different faces; I have published a theoretical framework on creativity, neuroscience and virtuality, recognizing the difference between creativity and innovation and its importance in the world of entertainment; I have studied Artaud, Grotowski, and Stanislavski with the same passion that I have enjoyed the films of Almodóvar, Guillermo del Toro, Tarantino, and Hitchcock.

    And all of this composes a multidimensional approach that should be the aspiration of every actor in the 21st century.

    I can speak properly about the brain and the diaphragm, because I have seen it “in situ.” Also, I can know what is real or not in a certain emotion, because I know the symptomatology and because I have also exposed myself to it as an actor or director. Best of all, I believe in collective work, and that each actor in training is a potential director. My coaching certification in Spain has been the key. I believe in the relevance of knowing ourselves and exploring our full potential, in addition to collective processes in order to achieve a quality work that can be conceived as a creative manifesto. This is the aspiration of every creator.

    La máxima aspiración de todo experto de una profesión debe ser enseñar a nivel universitario. En mi caso, la oportunidad de ser profesor universitario de psicología y ahora de actuación (Catedrático Auxililar), siendo joven, es una bendición y un logro consecuente de una preparación activa, a lo largo de toda mi vida. En mi caso, he sido expuesto a cerebros y a cuerpos humanos reales, desde la Anatomía Médica; he estudiado la visualidad y el cine almodovarioano, desde el ángulo académico; he sido coach, he colaborado y/o he fungido como articulista en los medios de actores y cantantes jóvenes que han sido laureados alrededor del Mundo, algunos en Broadway, Off Broadway, en Reality Shows, en NY o en Los Ángeles; he tenido la oportunidad de dirigir cortometrajes y actuar en ellos, premiados y presentados en países que ni he visitado; he tomado cursos de psicoanálisis y conozco el espectro de los diagnósticos mentales y de sus diversas emociones, desde distintos ángulos; he reseñado obras de teatro, de forma consistente, en la prensa del país; me expuesto a los medios desde sus distintas caras; he publicado un marco teórico sobre creatividad, neurociencia y virtualidad, reconociendo la diferencia entre la creatividad y la innovación y su importancia en el mundo del espectáculo; he estudiado a Artaud, Grotowski, e Stanislavski con la misma pasión que he disfrutado los filmes de Almodóvar, Guillermo del Toro, Tarantino y de Hitchcock. Y todo ello compone un enfoque multidimensional que debe ser la aspiración de todo actor en el siglo XXI. Puedo hablar con propiedad sobre el cerebro y el diafragma, porque lo he visto “in situ”. Asimismo, puedo saber lo que es real o no en determinada emoción, porque conozco la sintomatología y porque también me he expuesto a ello como actor o director: y, lo mejor de todo, creo en el trabajo colectivo y en que cada actor en adiestramiento es un director en potencia, cuyos adiestramientos en Coaching en España han sido clave. Es decir, creo en la importancia de conocernos y explorar nuestras potencialidades, sumada al trabajo en equipo, para lograr un trabajo de calidad y concebido como un manifiesto creativo, aspiración de todo creador.

    NYFA: What do you most look forward to sharing with your students?

    Dr. Ariel: My students will know my philosophy of work when it comes to educate: “Nosce te ipsum” (Know thyself) and “Niente senza gioia” (Nothing without joy). From my experience, every artist should aspire to be a Uomo Universale (Renaissance man), based on both visions. If you are an expert in sports or cooking, believe it or not, it will be relevant! Everything that is part of your baggage will be very useful to become a competitive actor. For such purposes, you must expose yourself to change, as a philosophy of life: you must be as malleable as your brain, whose plasticity remains, from my point of view, the invaluable metal of the future. That students recognize that verisimilitude is the most important thing in our acting process; what is organic and what can be demonstrated, from the immediacy of the film or from the rehearsal-after-rehearsal prolonged process of theater plays — this is built day by day.

    I also enrich my experience with formal education in classical and popular singing, and I recommend it. Even the voice has to be developed daily.

    Finally, my students will learn that movement is not only physical. It must be projected from our eyes, from the voice, into our soul. And so we build complete actors, real ones; connected with their environment; away from the notions of the ego; creative and directed to change.

    That my students would be capable of teaching, in the future, is my highest aspiration.

    Mis estudiantes conocerán mi filosofía de trabajo a la hora de educar: “Nosce te ipsum” (Conócete) y “Niente senza gioia” (nada sin alegría). Desde mi experiencia, todo artista debe aspirar a ser un Uomo Universale, fundamentado en ambas visiones: si eres un experto en deportes o en la cocina, aunque no lo creas, será relevante: todo lo que forma parte de tu bagaje será muy útil para convertirte en un actor competente. Para tales fines, deberás exponerte al cambio, como filosofía de vida: deberás de ser tan maleable como tu cerebro, cuya plasticidad sigue siendo, desde mi visión, el metal invaluable del futuro. Que reconozcan que la verosimilitud es lo más importante en nuestro trabajo actoral: lo orgánico y aquello que se pueda demostrar, sea desde la inmediatez del cine o del proceso prolongado de ensayo tras ensayo de las obras teatrales: todo ello se construye día a día. También he tomado clases de canto popular y lírico, y lo recomiendo: incluso la voz debe desarrollarse diariamente. Por último, aprenderán que el movimiento no es solo físico: debe proyectarse desde nuestros ojos, desde la voz, hasta en nuestra alma. Y así construimos actores completos, reales, conectados con su entorno, alejados de las nociones del Ego, creativos y dirigidos al cambio. Y que sean capaces de enseñar, en un futuro, es mi máxima aspiración.

    NYFA: As Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, how do you see the role of the visual and performing arts in rebuilding?

    Dr. Ariel: In Puerto Rico, creative arts has been an angular piece during the reconstruction process. Right after Maria, I had the opportunity to participate in three audio-visual projects, despite all the hardships on our island. The engine of creativity of our filmmakers was not stopped by a category 5 hurricane!

    During the recovery process, I joined the dubbing team on a project that will bring great benefits to the acting class. Likewise, we are collaborating with those who have used art to heal at the classroom context or the community spaces in this difficult period for all.

    Therefore, our island urges educators and creators to keep our national treasure alive. I refer to the immense creativity of our beloved Puerto Ricans in various branches of art, which have been recognized internationally, such as the case of Rita Moreno and our adoptive son Lin-Manuel Miranda, among other faces that will continue to surprise the world from the ever-shining star of the Caribbean: Puerto Rico.

    Finally, I want to express my gratitude to NYFA. I feel honoured for this wonderful interview. Thanks, Jeanne, for receiving me at your beautiful NYFA Campus. I will always be letting you know that my heart and my spirit are with you. I’m NYFA forever!

    En Puerto Rico, el arte ha sido pieza angular durante el proceso de reconstrucción. Justo posterior a María, tuve la oportunidad de participar en tres proyectos audiovisuales, pese a todas las carencias de nuestra Isla: es decir, el motor de la creatividad de nuestros ejecutores del cine no fue detenido por un huracán categoría 5. Asimismo, en plena recuperación, me incorporo al equipo de doblaje en la Isla, proyecto que traerá grandes beneficios a la clase actoral. Asimismo, somos más de uno los que hemos utilizado el arte para sanar a nivel del aula de clases o a nivel comunitario en este periodo tan difícil para todos. Por lo tanto, nuestra Isla urge de educadores y creadores que mantengan vivo a nuestro tesoro nacional: me refiero a la creatividad inmensa de nuestros amados puertorriqueños en diversas ramas del arte, que han sido reconocidos internacionalmente, tal como el caso de Rita Moreno, nuestro hijo adoptivo Lin-Manuel Miranda, entre otras caras que seguirán sorprendiendo al Mundo desde la siempre Estrella Brillante del Caribe: Puerto Rico. Finalmente, quiero expresar mi gratitud eterna a NYFA: me siento muy honrado por esta maravillosa entrevista. Gracias, Jeanne, por recibirme en el hermoso campus de NYFA en Nueva York. Siempre les dejaré saber que mi corazón y mi espíritu está con ustedes. ¡Soy NYFA para siempre!

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  • Loveratri, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, Arya Babber and More From New York Film Academy Mumbai Alumni & Guest Speakers

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    Since opening its doors in May 2017, NYFA Mumbai has seen an incredible year filled with student successes, insightful guest speakers, special master classes, and powerful storytelling. If you’re a film buff, whether you’re in the capital of Bollywood or simply streaming movies from anywhere in the world, you won’t want to miss what’s been happening at NYFA Mumbai.

    Check out these alumni success stories, as well as some of the luminaries that have visited our newest campus this year as Guest Speakers to share their advice with NYFA Mumbai students.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Sana Saeed

    TODAYYY ❤️ @newyorkfilmacademy #NYFAMumbai #letstogethermakethisyearcount

    A post shared by Sana Saeed (@sanaofficial) on

    It’s always a special occasion when a NYFA alum returns to their alma mater as a Guest Speaker, and NYFA Mumbai recently welcomed NYFA Acting for Film alum and child star Sana Saeed. Sharing a joyous evening with a packed house of students, Saeed spoke especially to the new class of NYFA Mumbai teen camp attendees in sharing her experiences as a child actor in Bollywood.

    As a child, Saeed played megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter in the romantic epic Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and was re-cast by same director Karan Johar 20 years later!

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Arya Babbar

    Noted actor Arya Babber is currently studying at NYFA Mumbai, taking a Filmmaking course to expand his already impressive repertoire. Well known in Punjabi film industry, Babber was nominated as the Most Promising Newcomer in 2002.

    Babber has also had crossover success in Bollywood, where he is one of the best known Punjabi actors; he has acted in 25 feature films in 16 years. So far, he’s been very open on social media about how much he is loving his time at NYFA Mumbai.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty


    Founder, Director at Opticus INC, recent NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sanjay Shetty has over two decades of experience as a director at Ad-Films. During his time at Ad-Films, Shetty was a finalist at the Cannes Lions Festival, one of the most prominent and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. He has been recognized for his work at Promax-Asia Advertising Awards & Goa Abbey Awards.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya


    With over 17 years of experience as a producer, from feature films to ads, for the past eight years NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Sandeep Shandilya has executive-produced such Bollywood hits as Love Story 2050, 1920 London, and TV series 24:India. As a producer, he has worked all over India and internationally, from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Bangkok to Dubai, Paris, Switzerland, and much more.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Tharun Bhascker


    NYFA alum Tharun Bhascker attended NYFA’s intensive 4-week Filmmaking Program in Mumbai in 2011, even before NYFA established its permanent campus at the Urmi Estate. He’s recently directed his second feature hit, Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi, which follows the major success of his first feature, #Pellichoopulu.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum & Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre


    NYFA Guest Speaker Rakesh Varre is an Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Screenwriting New York Film Academy alumnus. He is best known for for Baahubali: The Beginning, and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, where he played Setu Patti, and Vedam.

    Bahubali 2: The Conclusion was released in April 2017 and quickly became the highest-grossing film in India, grossing $82.8 million in five days.

    NYFA Mumbai Guest Speaker Seher Latif


    Seher Latif is a Casting Director and CSA member who has had success in both the American and Indian film industries. Her credits include Zero Dark Thirty, Furious 7, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and Eat Pray Love. Her Bollywood credits include The Lunch Box, and Monsoon Shootout.

    NYFA Mumbai Alum Warina Hussain


    Warina Hussain is a model and actress of Afghani-Iraqi descent, who attended the New York Film Academy’s Mumbai campus in 2017 to study Acting for Film. She is currently filming the lead role in Salman Khan’s Loverati, in which she will star alongside Khan’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma, in his acting debut.

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  • Veterans Photography Workshop Held at New York Film Academy

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA)’s New York City campus recently hosted nearly 50 veterans, active-duty military personnel, and dependents for an evening master class in the application and principles of light in digital photography.

    Chair of the NYFA Photography Program David Mager facilitated the three-hour workshop.

    Professor Mager’s lecture Principles of Light served as a great introduction to the laws and active principles behind the lighting of any scene. Attendees learned to approach a shoot with a pre-visualized idea of what story they want the light to tell.  

    Both the lecture and hands-on exercises guided attendees to see what different types of light look like, and how to think about lighting as an essential tool in image creation. See more photos from the day here.

    NYFA’s Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program, The Honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, treated the participants to welcome remarks.

    NYFA provided this photography workshop at no charge to the veteran participants as part of the institution’s support of service members residing in the communities where NYFA has U.S. campuses: Los AngelesNew York City, and South Beach (Miami). In the past two years, NYFA’s Division of Veteran Services has provided more than a dozen such free masterclasses in various filmmaking related disciplines including Acting, ScreenwritingFilmmaking, and Acting for Film.

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  • New York Film Academy Photography Alumni Partners Photograph Swedish Star Jasmine Kara

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    When you’re starting your own photography business, few things are as exciting as those first few high profile gigs. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography alumni and teaching assistants Stephany Viera Fernandez and Neil Camposuelo recently celebrated this landmark, during a promotional shoot with Swedish singer and songwriter Jasmine Kara.

    To celebrate and share their success, Stephany and Neil have offered the NYFA blog a sneak peek behind the scenes.

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

    Steph & Neil: Coming from two different parts of the world where photography is not as broad, unlike here in New York, one of the main reasons was to be able to keep growing and to build confidence — not just as a photographer, but also as a complete artist. We attended NYFA in different school years, but we both felt this school is the best avenue to do so.

    We wanted to be surrounded with talented and motivated people who shared the same passion as us. Along with the great faculty and other amazing students, being with them daily and continually creating work opened a whole new domain of ideas and philosophies on how we view the industry that is ahead of us.

    NYFA: Why photography? What inspires you about this medium?

    Steph & Neil: What is really astounding about photography is how you can be able to create your own world, but also at the same time you can capture the world right in front of you.

    There are so many ways you can maximize the use of this medium. Also, the power of one frame and the longevity of preserving that one frame can influence not just the present but also years to come. It is like a relationship also; it builds up gradually, and requires understanding between you and the medium to obtain the peak of mastery.  

    NYFA: How did you two connect as collaborators?

    Neil: After I finished my stint as a student here in NYFA, I applied to work as a TA last year, which eventually made Steph my colleague. That was when I got to know more about Steph and her work. I saw we had the same passion and motivation to succeed, and that was when I proposed the idea to her to work as a photographer duo.

    Steph & Neil: We knew it would be a good idea because we both have different cultural backgrounds and expertise; the dynamic between us is very good. Working with two brains and bodies can get more work done, and we are able to experiment with contrasting ideas and putting everything together cohesively. We both have trust, and along the way we help each other grow as we fill in our individual differences, strengths, and weaknesses.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying (and/or working as a TA) with us?

    Steph: For me, it was when I met all the teachers here in NYFA. I was really in awe of the load of talent and knowledge that they all have. It gives me the drive every day to potentially reach the same level.

    As for working as a TA, it is like being a student all over again. I continuously go along with the classes and I also experience in real time how fast photography changes in terms of style and techniques. That helps me to always have a different outlook and an open mind whenever I approach our own work.

    Neil: Just like what Steph said, my favorite moment here in NYFA is also the opportunity to meet all the teachers, to have a conversation with them and basically to learn from them every day. It is really a blessing to have such a group of people this great, because it helps me to stay humble, work harder, and keep track of my vision — our vision as a photographer duo.

    It is also great to work as a TA here at school because it gives you a sense of responsibility. I consider it a noble profession to be a part of student development, in terms of their career and life, to be able to help them, as well as guide them to be great on what they want to pursue.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your recent shoot with Jasmine Kara? How did this collaboration come about, and any inspiration or details you can share?

    Steph & Neil: We will be doing a cover for her upcoming single that will be released into three different languages (English, Spanish, Persian) this August. We cannot really tell yet the full detail of the single, but it is about how we can carry on in life with all the negativity and problems through laughter.

    The concept we are planning to do is a mix of humor and inspirations from Greek sculptures, work from photographers like Roger Ballen and Chris Buck, and relating it to the music video of Jasmine Kara’s single. Our main idea is having our own take of humor in a contemporary art approach, as we are trying to blend in the mood of the song but still remaining grounded in the style of our work as a photographer duo.

    NYFA: When photographing a star like Kara, how do you prepare? 

    Steph & Neil: This kind of opportunity do not come every day. So, when we knew we would have the chance to do a shoot with her, we started doing our pre-production plan.

    We had at least one-and-a-half weeks and to prepare, and even though it was a short period of time, this is one of the advantages of working as a photographer duo; we’re able to accomplish more and finish on time.

    Plus, [we did] a lot of research also. It is important to get to know the subject, her personality, and her background history as a singer. We had a couple of meetings with her, talking about the ideas for the shoot and making sure everything was according to plan.

    NYFA: What is your must-have piece of photography equipment, or your must-do ritual when preparing for a shoot?

    Steph & Neil: We never forget to have a scrim-jim on our equipment list every time we shoot. It is a very versatile diffusion, and helps soften and tone the light. This is like the signature look we have on most of our work.

    And for a must-do ritual, we love to eat before and even after a shoot! We always double-check everything also from the pre-production and the equipment we are using to avoid mishaps.

    NYFA: What’s your advice to students interested in photographing on the pop and music scene?

    Steph & Neil: For us, it’s not just about photographing on the pop and music scene. In general, our advice is that students should continue to grasp anything they can learn. Continue reading books, watching movies, talking to people. In the future, this will be an accumulation of knowledge and experiences that they can apply to their work. They should not be afraid of experimenting, breaking the rules of photography, risking ideas. In this era of photography where everything has been done already, students should be able to create ways to improve these latter ideas into something new and contemporary.

    On the other hand, students must still respect and give credit to the history of photography, the art of it, and take time to understand how we got here to this point — especially in the level of creativity.

    Lastly, we would like to share this quote with everyone. This is a mantra for us working as a photographer duo: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” We both believe that we make our own luck, that we should have to work for it, and just keep creating beautiful images.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful for the work you’re doing now?

    Steph & Neil: Absolutely, NYFA was like our training ground and a big part of the foundation of who we are now as an artists and photographers.

    Coming here to New York City and to this school with no prior professional experience, it did help bring out the best in us. The school gave us not just the tools but also the mental preparation to face the reality of this industry.

    Thank you and congratulations to Stephany and Neil!

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  • Good Morning Connecticut, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Cannes From the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    So another week, and another item about Snapchat … No, I am not obsessed with the digital platform. But if you look at the image below, you’ll notice that a wide range of content publishers are.
    As reported by Digiday, Snap — the parent company of Snapchat — has hired veteran digital executive Sarah Gallagher to coordinate communication between Snapchat and the growing number of news and non-fiction content creators that rely on the digital distribution service. Why are major legacy media outlets anxious to distribute their content via Snapchat? Because people my age watch TV, and people your age (well, the age of the majority of people reading this) use apps.
    At NYFA, we offer a skills-based Broadcast Journalism program because there are certain key skills you need to know in a world that includes both broadcasting and narrowcasting.
    Traffic is moving in the other direction as well, with well-known broadcast outlets searching out digital content. Vice is the preeminent digital platform for edgy non-fiction. Begun as a free arts magazine in Toronto, the now USD $8+ billion production powerhouse cut a deal with Channel 4 in the UK. Channel 4 has a reputation for cutting-edge non-fiction programming, and this alliance allows them to build their brand (and their on-demand video service), without the expenses associated with original production.
    Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, is a lot of time to fill. And, as one of my former colleagues once put it, “every dream has its budget.”
    I heard from NYFA Broadcast Journalism grad Alyssa Taglia on Thursday. Last year around this time, she was a student. Now, she is the morning traffic reporter, and a multimedia journalist, at WTNH in Connecticut. Plus, last week she got the chance to anchor the station’s 9 a.m. Good Morning Connecticut newscast.
    Congratulations, Alyssa!
    Meanwhile, in Georgia (“the country, not the state“), NYFA grad Liza Tsitsishvilli works at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Recently she did a story about one of the most famous singers in her country. It is evidence of just how much they value her that she was given such an important assignment!

    Broadcast Journalism alum Federica Polidora should probably get an award for the sheer number of Italian news outlets she contributes to. Recently she interviewed Philip Glass, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

    She was at the Cannes Film Festival, but instead of the usual red carpet shot she sent us a picture of her with two of her colleagues, and her son…
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  • Game Design Students Venture to New York Film Academy Alum’s Escape Hotel in Hollywood

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    Last week, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Director of Media Lab Matthew Sheehan took a group of NYFA Game Design postgraduate students out for a heck of a final: the one hour to escape challenge from Slaughterhouse at the Escape Hotel in Hollywood. The stakes: solve the puzzle or pay the ultimate price — no, not a failing grade, just the pain of defeat.

    For the uninitiated, an escape room is a little bit theater, a little bit puzzle, and a whole lot adventure. Groups of anywhere between two to eight, whether coworkers, families, friends, or even couples, are placed into a themed room filled with puzzles and surprises, and have one hour to solve the clues to find their way out.  Escape rooms are amazing fun and they are all over the place, but nobody is doing them like the Escape Hotel in Hollywood.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    A soon as you enter the Escape Hotel in Hollywood, you know you are about to go on an adventure. Going into the hotel is like stepping into a story line. The lighting, the sound, and the costumed employees of the hotel all set the stage.

    When the NYFA group talked over the choice of which of the rooms we could go through with a macabre bellhop, MFA student Fabio Ribak’s face lit up when we were told, “You start the Slaughterhouse room blindfolded and handcuffed to the floor.” Challenge accepted!

    In the end, we did not make it out. But it was okay, as the room was so much fun. The teamwork, the panic, and the discoveries were worth every second of it. These rooms are more than padlocks and puzzles; they are stories, little movies, games come to life, with you in the center. For a group of students who had recently completed story-focused visual and performing arts training, it was the perfect evening.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    Escape Hotel co-creator Ivan Leon sat down with us afterward. Ivan is also a NYFA alum, who after completing his education went to work starting the Escape Hotel with some of his classmates.

    “It’s what’s next,” he told us. “It’s combining every form of media arts, theater, and games, in a way no one else is doing, and we wanted to make a big commitment, to be on top.”

    If you want to see it, you will have to come up to the Escape Hotel in Hollywood and put your blindfold on. If you want to make friends with the next Ivan Leon, you should come over to the New York Film Academy.

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  • New York Film Academy Photography Trip to Florence, Italy: Inspired by Light, Travel and Art

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    Photography in Florence is magical; the light is soft and billowy, almost tangible. The 2,000 year-old Florentine streets are paved with cobblestones and the buildings display history in layers as you walk by, one fresco emerging behind another. Since everything is new to the eye in unfamiliar surroundings, all kinds of details and expressions jump out and call to be photographed.

    Florence is covered in art from Renaissance paintings by Botticelli and Da Vinci, to the Duomo and other architectural gems. Nearly every church has fine art paintings and sculptures inside, frescoes by Giotto and Masaccio, and you can get so close you can smell them!

    Photo: Matthew Angel Acevedo bo2m2_photography

    Over spring break, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Chair of Photography David Mager and Associate Chair of Photography Naomi White traveled with 18 NYFA students and alumni for an incredible week of photography in the historic city of Florence, Italy. Students came from several different departments (Acting for Film, Filmmaking, and Photography), creating a diverse group of talented and creative people.

    Classes were held in the mornings at the beautiful NYFA Florence campus in Piazza San Lorenzo, and were geared towards both beginning and advanced students. In the afternoons, we alternated between walking tours of the city and commercial shoots at local businesses. We also toured Tuscany together, visiting the hill towns of Siena and San Gimignano, both built for pedestrians with large city squares and ornate romanesque-gothic churches.

    Walking tours focused on elements of exposure and how aperture affects communication, as well as embracing decisive moments through street photography and documentary portraits. We toured the church of San Lorenzo, with it’s collection of Renaissance paintings, including the recently restored Annunciation by Filippo Lippi (c. 1450); the Boboli gardens with their magnificent sculptures and shady dells; and wound our way along the Arno, crossing over several bridges including the famous Ponte Vecchio with it’s shiny jewelry shops and magnificent views of the river.  

    There were also 3 commercially-focused shoots, where advanced students worked with the ProFoto B1 lights to create elegant imagery for various businesses. The first was in a 600-year-old apothecary in Santa Maria Novella. Gothic vaulted ceilings and pink and white striped stone pillars define this enchanting space, which is now used as a fully working perfumery selling upscale bottles of expensive perfume.

    The second business was an all-women-run ceramic shop. The owner, now in her 80s, still goes to work every day to paint beautiful ceramic pottery alongside her daughters.

    The third business was a leather school where students are trained in creating leather goods typical of Florence such as bags, purses, belts and shoes.

    We had a wonderful group of students who not only took great pictures, but who bonded and enjoyed each other’s company.

    The NYFA Photography excursion to Florence offered a great week away from the familiar daily life and gave the students new skills and new perspectives. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Florence with NYFA, you should take it!

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