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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

  • 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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  • Marie Senghore: From the New York Film Academy to the Red Carpet

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    Marie Senghore followed her dream of moving from Sweden to Los Angeles to invest in an acting career. To begin her journey, she enrolled at the New York Film Academy, which she applied for through Blueberry — and the rest is a real success story. Check out Marie’s story in her own words, below!

    (Please note: this interview has been translated from Swedish to English and reprinted with permission from Blueberry. To see the original, click here.)

    Blueberry: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what you’re up to right now?

    MS: I’m an actor, and I earned my associate degree in Acting for Film from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles in May 2017.

    Now, one year after graduation, I’m still living here in LA and working part-time at Disney, while recording movies.

    Blueberry: How did you become interested in acting? What was your first role?

    MS: I have always wanted to work as an actor. I think my first job was at like six years old, when I participated in a section of [Swedish TV show] Bolibompa. It went well so they called me back several more times. Then, I started taking theater lessons and chose theater as a focus in high school.

    However, I did not start working with movies again until autumn 2013, after I had moved back home after spending a year in Spain. I started recording commercials and short films and finally became a part of a feature film.

    Blueberry: What are some films we can see you in?

    MS: In Sweden I played Aliki in Aliki (2016, Tine Alavi) and Tessan in Alena (2015, Daniel di Grado). Later, in the United States, I have participated in a lot of movies, as Spaelade Main Girl in Shea Buttah (2018, Deja Gordon); Julia in 6:00pm (2017, Savvas Christou); and Leonora Kale in 1989 (2018, Furaha Bayibsa).

    Blueberry: How did you choose to study at the New York Film Academy?

    MS: I had searched around at a number of California schools that had film programs. I had previously encountered NYFA through one of Blueberry’s student fairs, so I already knew a little about them. In the fall of 2015 I went to school to have my audition and I felt safe with my choice to start there.

    Blueberry: How would you describe NYFA?

    MS: It is very intensive. You have three terms in one calendar year, so there is no summer vacation. You have a free week between the semesters and then you start again. It sounds very hard, but I think it’s good. You never lose focus and I personally felt that motivated me more.

    Blueberry: Is there a big difference between the industry in Los Angeles and Sweden?

    MS: Yes. This is the capital of all movies, so the industry here is much bigger. There are always lots of projects to work on. Sometimes it also feels like everyone in this city also works in the industry. There are not many I encounter that do not. But that’s what makes it fun. You can always find any project to jump on. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Sweden, but hopefully it will be the case in the future.

    Blueberry: How did a regular school day look like you at NYFA?

    MS: As I mentioned, the school is intensive. Some days you start 9 in the morning, other days not until 7 in the evening. Even though you do not have a lesson, you are also expected to have projects with your classmates. Then there are also many drop-in lessons and guest lectures that you can take. For example, for me it was stage combat. It was one of those lessons I had planned to take once a week, but as I developed, I worked on it almost every day. I really recommend taking as many courses as you can.

    Blueberry: Where did you stay during your program, and how did you do to find accommodation?

    MS: NYFA has a department that helps students find accommodation. I got help from them and found an apartment with two other girls from school. I lived there during my school time. I lived with two girls from China. It was wonderful to live with people from a completely different culture but who have the same passion. I still have contact with them both.

    Blueberry: What do you do in your spare time?

    MS: Watch a movie! I’m a film student so that’s a lot of it. I usually swim, practice, read, or have BBQs with friends. I also like art, so sometimes I go to explore new installations. I work at Disney, so it’s fun to go to Disneyland sometimes too.

    Blueberry: What do you have to see and do when visiting LA?

    MS: Going to the beach, I suppose? Even though I have not gone there so often myself, it is nice to live near the sea. But LA has a little bit of everything. There are beaches, mountains, deserts, forests, and metropolitan areas. It’s just about finding what you like.

    Blueberry: What is your best memory so far from your stay?

    MS: I cannot find one memory, I’ve had too many! I was celebrating Midsummer with my Swedish friends. I celebrated July 4th at Huntington Beach. I spent the summer with my friends by the pool. I got to work on so many amazing projects. I graduated. I got a job at Disney. One of the films I had the lead in will be featured at an American film festival. So many wonderful things have happened that I don’t really remember everything.

    Blueberry: What has been the biggest surprise during your stay in LA?

    MS: I thought I would move here and just focus on acting. It did not even take a year and then I got an interest in being behind the camera. I had to test myself on cinematography and script writing, and it has led me to write my first short film. It’s great that NYFA gave me the chance to explore more parts of the film creation experience.

    Blueberry: Was there anything that was not as you had imagined?

    MS: I did not have so many expectations. I thought that in an Acting for Film program, it’s wouldn’t be much more than movies, but I also got a great deal of theater training so that’s just a big plus.

    Blueberry: Do you have any tips for others who are interested in studying abroad?

    MS: Go! I know that it may feel like there is so much in the way and there are so many criteria that you have to tick off, but it’s worth it. During my time here I have met so many international students. Even though many of them have gone home and followed another career, none of them have regretted their time. I know for myself that, although I would do the same, I would not have changed anything.

    Blueberry: What are your plans for the future? Where do we see you next?

    MS: My goals for the future are to keep up with what I do. I want to continue recording movies. This summer I will record a short film that I have written. It will be interesting to bring a character to life that comes directly from my own imagination. Then for the rest of the year, we’ll see. Maybe I go home to Sweden again or move to South Korea or stay here in the United States. As I said, there is so much I want to do and I do not want to get stuck in a specific country. If my passion gives me the chance to work in another country, I will definitely follow it! Next, you will see me in Deja Gordon’s movie Shea Buttah and then in my own movie Remember.

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  • New York Film Academy Supports House of Artists Foundation

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    This spring, on a lovely-weather day in Atlanta, Georgia, a very special benefit charitable run took place: The Fantastic Movie Run 10k! The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was proud to be a sponsor of the event.

    Ashley Drayton, the remarkable founder and president of House of Artists Foundation (HoAF), a 501 (c)(3) non- profit that serves the Autistic community, in particular, Artists with Autism, is a graduate (’12) of the New York Film Academy MFA Acting Program.

    The Atlanta run raised crucial funds needed to support the House of Artists Foundation’s mission and work, which is to continue to bring light to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), especially with regard to individuals in entertainment sector who — despite their struggles with ASD— contribute to the industry in so many valuable ways.

    Every runner/walker and volunteer received a NYFA race t-shirt adorned with the HoAF logo and slogan: “Where Autistic Artists Thrive!”

    NYFA is extremely pleased to count Ashley as part of our alum community. Learn more about the organization here: www.HouseOfArtistsFoundation.org

     

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  • Mariano Di Vaio Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles Production Workshop & Guest Speaker Series

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    It was just another Production Workshop Thursday on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) student crews sprawled across the European set searching for places to shoot, directors framed their shots, actors rehearsed their lines.

    Then he walked onto the backlot: Mariano Di Vaio, Italian fashion star, Forbes magazine top influencer under 30, and NYFA Acting for Film alumnus. Heads turned as he arrived to shoot a production workshop commercial with Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran and Cinematography Instructor Matt Kohnen.

    “It’s a dream come true to be on the backlot,” said Mariano. “I always said to myself maybe one day I could shoot something in Hollywood. And doing this student project, I feel like I’m rewinding back nine years to my student days.”

    In 2009, Mariano enrolled in an Acting for Film course at the New York Film Academy in New York. When he returned to his hometown of Perugia, Italy, he started a blog about men’s fashion that blew up on the web, netting him over 10 million followers on social media and enabling him to start his own clothing and hair product lines.

    Then he was back on a NYFA set collaborating with faculty and staff on a shoot designed to teach students and alumni how to film a commercial. It featured several of his brands: Mariano Di Vaio Limited Edition Hair Products, NOHOW clothing, and MDV Eyewear.

    Written by Nick Sivakumaran, who also directed, the commercial starts with Mariano walking past several NYFA crews shooting a variety of scenes. He notices one crew in particular — they are struggling to shoot a romantic scene between a guy and girl. The director is obviously frustrated at the lack of chemistry between them. Enter Mariano! He gestures to the director, “un moment,” takes aside the actor, and gives him a quick makeover using his hair products and sunglasses. Suddenly, the actor looks great, the actress is in love, and the director is thrilled! Mariano leaves as everyone looks at him in amazement and wonders, “Who was that guy?” 

    The fake crew consisted entirely of NYFA Acting for Film students and alumni. Ezra Ramos (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film), who played the actor and was styled by Mariano for the commercial, reported that “Mariano just opened up his suitcase and said ‘what’s your size’?” Then he rifled through the suitcase to hook Ezra up with MDV Collection suede loafers and a tropical white NoHow shirt festooned with tiny palm trees, pineapples, and bananas.

    Gulshan Salamli (Spring ’17 BFA Acting for Film) played the role of the unimpressed actress, and she said the shoot with Mariano was a very different experience from the usual production workshop. “Mariano is the star, obviously, and it is interesting to work with him, to play a supporting role and observe how much input a star has on set. I realized it’s okay to be in the shadows, that I can express myself yet serve the project at the same time.”

    Fake crew member Mackenzie Leslie (Summer ‘16 One Year Acting for Film) said she learned a lot on set, pointing at a huge flag on a C-stand that was blocking the bright California sun. “This production workshop has way more equipment than I’ve seen before,” she said.  “I’ve never filmed with a dolly. I’ve seen shots that were made that way, but never been in one.”

    Meanwhile, actors Elizabeth Otaola (Summer ‘16 MFA Acting for Film) and Christopher Rybka (Fall ‘15 AFA Acting for Film) discussed Mariano’s career. “He’s not a traditional actor. He’s inspired me to explore other options and ways of having an acting career,” said Elizabeth, who played the director. “Everything is going to evolve. Television and film will change in the next 20 years.  Smart people should be paying attention to that and create their own content and know about marketing.”

    Christopher concurred, saying, “It’s very unique that Mariano has used Instagram as a marketing tool to get out there rather than going to auditions and hoping someone picks him up.”

    The following night, Mariano entertained a full house of students at the NYFA Theater with humorous and informative tales about his career in a Q&A moderated by Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley. He emphasized the importance of setting small, achievable goals in pursuit of big dreams, and of approaching every task, learning opportunity, and job with passion — an outlook he attributed to his instructors at NYFA back in 2009.

    When asked what advice he had for students starting an Instagram account for the first time, Mariano replied,“I would start with videos if I had to start from scratch, because right now I think they are the key. The algorithm has changed, so it’s harder for people to just post photos.” More specifically, he “would definitely put up something about comedy because positivity, that’s what people like. Being happy is what people want to get from their phones.”

    Most importantly, Mariano encouraged students to do exactly what they had been doing when he walked onto the Universal backlot — collaborate with as many people as possible to increase social media following. “If all of you guys here start to do something together, even a small project, you already can reach how many? 10,000 people for sure.” Another reason to collaborate: “Sometimes when you talk and do something with other creative people, something better comes up, better than what you can do by yourself.”  

    Speaking of collaboration, the Mariano Di Vaio/NYFA Los Angeles commercial project will drop on social media sometime in May. Be on the lookout!

    NOTE: in addition to the students quoted above, the shoot also featured Paulina Hilla (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film) and Amber Satcher (Fall ‘16 MFA Acting for Film).  

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  • 2018 Acting for Film Alumni Industry Showcase a Success at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    On Wednesday, April 25, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles proudly presented their annual Alumni Industry Showcase at NYFA Theater. This showcase represented the very best from the AFA, BFA, and MFA Acting for Film program students who graduated from January 2017 – January 2018, and is attended by industry professionals.

    Photo by New York Film Academy.

    The evening was filled with short live scenes and an original short film, written by the alumni company and directed by NYFA Associate Chair of Acting for Film Christopher Cass.

    “Our goal is to showcase our students to be competitive with all the top schools in the country,” explained the director of the showcase and Associate Chair of Acting Anne Moore. “What sets NYFA apart is our focused Acting for Film training and international diversity.”

    “This is my favorite showcase of the year,” said casting director Billy DeMota.

    Overall the showcase was very successful, with top industry managers, agents, and casting directors in attendance from companies and agencies that included Evergreen Management, A.M.W. Talent Agency, Castboy Casting, Bella Agency, and Torque Entertainment.

    The alumni in attendance were equally enthusiastic and happy with the event.

    Spring 17 AFA grad Emily Morrison shared, “I’m very grateful to have been selected to partake in this year’s alumni showcase. It was a wonderful opportunity and allowed me to network with some great other alumni. Excited to see where everyone’s journey takes them.”

    Fall 17 MFA alum Vincson Green II agreed. “My experience at NYFA has been remarkable from the standpoint of being able to learn and understand movies and the techniques utilized in cinematic storytelling in order to create a compelling film,” he said. “Because of NYFA, I now watch films from a more educated perspective and can engage with them on a deeper intellectual level. Also, the acting program has opened up so many doors and gateways to new techniques and ways of approaching the craft that I had no prior knowledge of before attending the school.”
    Spring 17 MFA grad Zandi Zim said, “I loved learning about my craft alongside the professionals who could give us so many perspectives on their experience, past and present. It felt like we were all growing together and they were always pushing me to step up my game.”
    Fall 17 BFA Graduate Buffy Milner summed it all up: “I had a great experience doing the showcase and I’m so grateful to Anne for the opportunity. I had a lot of fun working on a great scene and putting on a show with a group of really talented actors.”
    New York Film Academy would like to thank all who participated and wishes our alumni the very best.
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  • New York Film Academy Partners with AT&T SHAPE

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    We are excited to be working with AT&T this year on AT&T SHAPE being held at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles on June 2-3, 2018. SHAPE is an immersive event that explores the convergence of technology and entertainment. Discover how the future of content creation and distribution will usher in new audience experiences. Get inspired by visionary speakers, and experience interactive exhibits from promising start-ups and industry leaders at Warner Bros. Studios backlots.

    New York Film Academy will hold Interactive Demos led by NYFA award-winning instructors. You’ll be able to try out the latest full-body motion capture technology and create a live digital action scene with a fellow performer. See your emotions come to life on animatronics and robotics through the magic of facial motion-data conversion. Get some hands-on experience creating your own VFX video using green screens and the most popular visual effects programs. There will be live Twitch streaming for the gaming enthusiasts, and more.

    2018 AT&T SHAPE logo

    What Can You Explore at SHAPE 2018?

    Take a stroll through interactive exhibits that will demonstrate how technology is revolutionizing entertainment. There will be a variety of demos on display that feature a visual effects studio, full body and facial motion capture, drone and filming tech, virtual and augmented reality and 5G. Here are just a few that you can explore at SHAPE:

    • Full Dome Pro: Take a step into our 360 projection dome and get transported to the next level in immersive experiences. This is VR made social. No headsets, no goggles, no limits- just breathtaking shared virtual reality. Experience VR you will never forget.
    • Open the Portal: –Mirror Rorrom, Electronic Countermeasure, and Open the Portal teamed up to create a hall of mirrors unlike any other. A stop motion character will guide you through an experience that transforms your image before your eyes and facilitates a thought-provoking journey for you to consider your own feelings about the future that technology is facilitating and your place within it.
    • KUKA: See how robotics can enhance the motion picture capture process. KUKA Robotics, in cooperation with their integration partner Motorized Precision, are demonstrating the KIRA 2.0 cinema robotic automation system.
    • Red: Sample games, movies, and other content on the RED Hydrogen One smartphone before it is released to the public.

    Visionary Speakers at SHAPE

    Be inspired by visionary speakers as they discuss how new technologies like mixed reality, interactive storytelling, emerging tech in networking, blockchain are transforming digital media, film, television, and gaming. A few of our featured speakers and sessions include the following:

    • Ava DuVernay: A writer, producer, director, and distributor of independent film, DuVernay will co-host our AT&T Film Awards finals and discuss her experience as an aspiring filmmaker. She is the director of Selma, which chronicles the historic 1965 voting rights campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Her most recent work includes her 2018 film, A Wrinkle in Time. and screening. Join her as we screen the finalists’ films in front of a live audience. Attend this session to vote for your favorite short and help determine who will take home a share of $60,000 in prizes.
    • Issa Rae: With her own unique flare and infectious sense of humor, Issa Rae’s content has garnered million of views online and she has received two Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress for her hit show, HBO’s Insecure. Issa’s web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl was the recipient of the coveted Shorty Award for Best Web Show and her first book, a collection of essays, is a New York Times Best Seller. Rae has graced the cover and pages of major national media outlets including Essence, The Hollywood Reporter, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, CNN, VOGUE and TIME with appearances on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, The View and more. She’ll join us at SHAPE for an intimate conversation about her experience in getting to mainstream broadcast.
    • Brian Krzanich: The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Intel, Krzanich was elected CEO in May 2013 after serving in a variety of technical and leadership roles in manufacturing and as the company’s Chief Operating Officer (COO). As CEO, Krzanich is transforming Intel from a PC-centric to a data-centric company. Under his leadership, Intel has expanded in markets like memory, modems, and programmable solutions while investing in emerging areas such as AI, 5G, and autonomous driving. Hear Krzanich talk about the new ways content will be delivered and monetized through immersive experiences, including how data and investments in 5G will transform networks to meet the growing demand for new entertainment experiences.
    • Brian McLean: In 2016, McLean was awarded a Scientific and Engineering Oscar® plaque for pioneering the use of 3D printers in stop-motion animated characters. In 2017, he received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Visual Effects for his contributions to Kubo and the Two Strings. In 2009, McLean won an Annie Award for Special Achievement in Animation for his work on Following the release of ParaNorman, he was named by Variety as one of 2012’s “Animation Elite.” Prior to LAIKA, Brian worked as a traditionally trained sculptor and model maker for print and TV ads.
    • Steve Emerson: An Oscar®-nominated visual effects supervisor and longtime LAIKA collaborator, he has contributed to all four award-winning films: Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman, and Coraline. Prior to joining LAIKA, Steve spent nearly twenty years working in visual effects as an artist and technical director. He has worked on many feature films and television series including The Matrix Reloaded, Transformers, The Dark Knight, and Sliders for Universal Television. In 2017, he received the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature for Kubo and the Two Strings.
    • Brent Bushnell: An entrepreneur, electrical engineer, software developer, and an authority in immersive entertainment, VR, MR, and AR, Bushnell also serves as CEO of experiential entertainment company, Two Bit Circus. Brent is an expert in the art of engagement and passionate about using immersive technologies to create new ways to capture people’s hearts and minds. The interdisciplinary team strives to create immersive, social fun and is currently building a network of micro-amusement parks featuring free-roaming VR, robot bartenders, an interactive supper club, and more.
    • Jess Fuselier: A community outreach, marketing, and data specialist, Fuselier pioneered a community outreach program to connect film sets across the U.S. with the communities in which they operate. An experienced coder, she co-founded Young Women Who Code, teaching elementary-age girls the building blocks of STEM education. As Manager of Research and Education at Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative, Fuselier works to cultivate meaningful insights rooted in data transparency, in order to create resources that impact the sustainability of the independent film community.
    • Liz Manashil: In addition to her work at Sundance Institute’s Creative Distribution Initiative, Manashil is also a feature writer and film director. She earned her B.A. in Film & Media Studies at Washington University, and her M.F.A. from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. Manashil spent several years as a film critic for the PBS/Hulu series Just Seen It and has worked with distribution guru Peter Broderick. Her debut feature, Bread and Butter, was called “an absolute must-watch for women everywhere” by HelloGiggles. Liz is currently in pre-production on her next film, Speed of Life.
    • Ross Goodwin: Artist, creative technologist, hacker, gonzo data scientist, and former White House ghostwriter, Goodwin employs machine learning, natural language processing, and other computational tools to realize new forms and interfaces for written language. Ross’s projects—from word.camera, a camera that expressively narrates photographs in real-time using artificial neural networks, to Sunspring (with Oscar Sharp), the world’s first film created from an A.I.-written screenplay—have earned international acclaim.
    • Oscar Sharp: A BAFTA-nominated British filmmaker, Sharp is best known for short films The Kármán Line, Sign Language, and Sunspring, and upcoming feature Woolly for 20th Century Fox. In 2016, Sharp teamed up with Ross Goodwin and actor Thomas Middleditch to create Sunspring, the first film to be entirely scripted by artificial intelligence and produced widespread international discussion. Sharp and Goodwin followed Sunspring in 2017 with It’s No Game starring David Hasselhoff, in which the actor performs dialogue generated by an AI from a large collection of his past performances.

    SHAPE Competitions

    Every year at SHAPE, a few competitions are held to inspire aspiring filmmakers and creators.

    • AT&T Create-a-thon:Watch or participate in the AT&T Create-a-thon where you can shoot your short film at Warner Bros. Studios using select iconic cityscapes and backlots. You’ll have a chance to win a $10,000* cash prize for the best, completed film in a number of categories.
    • AT&T Film Awards: Come see the finals of the AT&T Film Awards, a short film competition for aspiring creators who are using emerging filmmaking technologies to tell their stories. Vote for your favorite short and help determine who will take home a share of $60,000 in prizes, as we screen the finalists’ films in front of a live audience and esteemed panel of judges.

    Take the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and explore outdoor sets and soundstages used to create productions such as Gilmore Girls, The Big Bang Theory, and Argo. Visit the DC Universe and walk through the DC Comics Exhibit, the real Central Perk Friends set, original Batman Museum, where you’ll see the Batmobile Collection, and so much more.

    Continue to check the schedule on the registration website to give you the most recent information about SHAPE. We hope to see you in Los Angeles in June!

     

    *No purchase necessary, U.S. resident, age of majority. Enter by 4/27/17. Void where prohibited. See Official Rules.

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  • The New York Film Academy Welcomes Echo Lake Entertainment Talent Manager Iris Grossman

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting esteemed talent manager Iris Grossman. Grossman works at Echo Lake Entertainment, a management and production company that represents veterans such as Mandy Patinkin and Patti LuPone as well as young artists such as Dakota and Elle Fanning. NYFA Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Laiter began by asking Grossman about her start in the industry, and Iris described working early on at ICM as an assistant to agent Daniel Petrie Jr., who soon departed the company to write Beverly Hills Cop. Following that, she worked for agent Michael Black, who nurtured her and helped launch her career as an agent, where she developed her love of working with actors. 

    Years later, she took the job of senior vice president of talent and casting at Turner Network Television (TNT), where she had the joy of casting of stars such as Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Tommy Lee Jones, and Diane Keaton, at a time when actors did not do cable in the same way as today. She also discovered emerging talent: “I had the most incredible job. Every day I would get calls asking if I would like to meet with actors like Clive Owen, or Jude Law, who were unknowns at the time. It was pretty incredible.”

    Laiter followed up by asking Grossman about transitioning from being an agent into casting, and she responded, “I called casting ‘being an agent with a larger client list.’” When she would read a script at the agency, she would have to think about who at the agency would be right for the part, but in casting, she now had the world opened up to her.

    When asked about what it takes to have a keen eye for talent, Grossman answered that part of it is learned, and part of it is instinctual.

    “When you watch a movie, and you believe what you see, you know the person is talented,” she said.

    In regards to the teaching element, she remarked that you have to know about the history of the industry, and understand what made certain people stars, and then translate that into the moment.

    Her advice for actors upon graduation was to stay proactive, do theater, and create their own web content. “While I don’t cast people just based on their Instagram followers but their talent, if you have a video with a million views, people will start knocking on your door.”

    A student asked Grossman about what changes she saw with women in the industry, behind the camera, from the start of her career to now. Iris responded, “There are things that have changed, and things that haven’t changed.” She went on to say how women have always been producers in the industry, but how there aren’t enough women directors. She also noted that in television some of the top writers and showrunners now are women. “When I started out there were maybe five women agents. Now I see there are so many women agents and executives and managers. I think it’s changed, but it still has far to come.”

    When asked about what happens in her first meeting with an actor, she said she wanted to learn about them as people: “I already know they are talented from their reel.” She wants to make sure they get along, because it’s all about the relationship and making sure they have the same goals.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Grossman for taking the time to speak to our students and share her wealth of knowledge and experience.

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    May 1, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 285

  • Cannes International Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers to Screen Life in Color Starring New York Film Academy Alum Ioanna Meli

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    Life in Color is an official selection in the 2018 Cannes International Film Festival Emerging LGBTQ Filmmakers category, starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ioanna Meli. The film shares a touching portrait of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long-lost love of his life. The film is directed by Bishal Dutta, who also wrote it together with Matt McClelland. Along with the prestigious honor of screening at Cannes, the film has shown as part of the Silicon Beach Film Festival in LA.

     

    In the midst of all the excitement, Meli took the time to sit down with the NYFA Blog to talk about the film, screening at Cannes, and what’s next.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your film at Cannes and your role?

    IM: Life in Color was created by a collective of young artists and it tells the story of an aging, closeted gay man with Alzheimer’s who struggles against his strong-willed daughter to hold on to the memory of the long lost love of his life. Working with the team and developing the role of Beth, the daughter, was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had as an actor so far. Beth’s torment in trying to understand her father and the childhood she was deprived of, while fighting her own beliefs was a challenging journey to go on to. And to be honest, I always feel a little extra lucky getting to work with directors as generous as Bishal Dutta; his direction was insightful and clear, yet allowed for the building of the characters and the relationships between them to develop organically.

    NYFA: How did you come to this project? What inspired you about it?

    IM: I submitted myself through the breakdowns and was called in to read for Beth. The sides I read at the audition and callback were an excerpt from the script at the time; even though it was an early draft, it was clear that both the scenes and the characters were constructed in-depth. The final script is also characterized by minimal dialogue, and that’s definitely one of the most inspiring parts for me — the storytelling that happens without the need for too many words. I got a sense of Beth’s character from the beginning, and her struggle in finding the right way to help her father intrigued me. Most importantly, the story touches upon sensitive issues that are most relevant in our world today and is told in such a way that really draws the audience into the characters’ conflicting realities. I’m truly grateful to have been a part of telling this story.

    LIFE IN COLOR – Trailer from Bishal Dutta on Vimeo.

    NYFA: Are you attending Cannes? Or, can you speak to what this experience means to you?

    IM: It’s still barely sinking in but yes, I will be attending Cannes! I’m not sure how to express how much this means to me. I am excited beyond words, but it’s also a little unreal. I realized that every time I imagined participating in such an event, I pictured myself older. I guess I thought that the chances of getting there would be higher later on in my career. But here we are now, and all of a sudden I get to attend Cannes for the first time with a short film I am so proud to be a part of. I’m looking forward to screening our work in such a unique environment as part of the Emerging Filmmakers LGBTW Showcase; to experiencing this magnificent festival to the fullest in the company of a great group of young artists; to exploring all it has to offer and meeting fellow professionals from around the world. Preparing for this trip to be able to make the most of this opportunity is what I’m focused on right now. But also looking forward to the french croissants, if I’m honest.

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

    IM: I was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where I would perform on stage at school as well as with the school choir around Europe. I got to experience the world of performance through that, but also because we grew up always playing music all together and going to the theatre with my family. Studying theatre arts was something that came naturally to me; I went on to get my undergraduate degree in drama and theatre arts from Goldsmiths College University of London, and that helped me build a strong base as a performer and creator. Before graduating, I was cast as the lead in the Greek feature film Elvis’ Last Song, which had a very successful festival run, and it was what introduced me to the world of acting on camera. I knew right then that it was what I wanted to train in further; I looked for a graduate program in Acting for Film and that led me to NYFA. Soon after, I moved to Los Angeles, completed my MFA at NYFA, and I was later in the first ever group to graduate from UCLA’s Professional Program in Acting for Camera. Today, I am truly grateful to say that I have seen my work be recognized at Festivals around the world and to have worked with masters such as Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s a business where you definitely take one step at a time, and I still have a million of those I want to take. But now, it’s time for Cannes!

    NYFA: What’s next for you after Cannes?

    IM: We just held a private screening of a pilot for our TV series Dirty Laundry. It’s a dramedy about a dysfunctional family of sorts, comprised of people from different walks of life who form a support group at a local laundromat. In that, I play a cheerful kindergarten teacher, Annie, who is trying to help her older sister survive the sudden death of her husband. The concept is unique and the screening was received enthusiastically by the audience; the production team will begin pitching the show later this month. Other than that, I’m currently completing my own script for a pilot of a comedic series that I want to shoot in Greece and in Los Angeles. I’ll have more information to share about that soon! I’m trying to keep my website updated with everything that’s going on, so go to www.ioannameli.com to stay posted!

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    April 30, 2018 • Acting • Views: 547