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  • NYFA Grad Produces ‘5boys’ with All-Female Cast

    5boys

    The New York Film Academy is proud to announce the New York City premiere of 5boys, an award-winning play by the Slovenian playwright Simona Semenič. Produced by NYFA Acting alumna Sandra Herlog, directed by NYFA Instructor Rico Rosetti and featuring an all-female, all-Swedish cast of former NYFA students!

    The female cast portrays the young male characters of Blaž, Vid, Krištof, Jurij and Denis, who initially meet up to play in an empty lot. The innocent games they create — superheroes, house, cowboys & Indians — slowly, and inadvertently, expose a deep-rooted legacy to the violence, misogyny, bigotry and homophobia in our modern world. Blending humor, physical action and an unflinching honesty, 5boys invites its audience to view the world as seen through the eyes of 10-11 year old boys.

    5boys cast

    Photos by Luis Alarcon – Edit by Ellinor Denkert – Poster by Ellinor Denkert and Sandra Herlog – Graphic Design by Linnea Larsdotter

    “Last summer while visiting a friend in Norway I came upon 5boys,” recalls Herlog. “Sometimes there’s those special pieces of art that linger, they effect you and they won’t let go, and that’s what 5boys did to me. It’s a brilliant and raw piece—daring, violent, comedic, honest—and it’s written for an all female cast, which is not exactly the most common thing. Realizing it’s never been up here in NYC there was no doubt about it, I had to make it happen. So I got in touch with the author, got the rights, and started the journey of putting things together.”

    While the performance is being held for 7 days, Herlog hopes for a second run and perhaps even a tour.

    Herlog appreciates her time at NYFA, and admits it was crucial in terms of producing this play. “The networking and the connections I made during my time as a student is what made 5boys become a reality. Rico Rosetti (director, mentor and the one helping me out with exactly everything) was my former teacher. The cast are alumni and current students. The photographer is a TA. The whole crew and everyone building sets is a former student or TA. Yes, 95% of the whole 5boys production is generated through NYFA, and all my questions and concerns have been solved through the contacts I’ve made there. I’m extremely grateful to have found these incredible people.”

    5boys runs May 12-17th at the Access Theater in New York City. Tickets are free of charge and available at www.brownpapertickets.com.

    May 13, 2015 • Acting, Musical Theatre, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 314

  • NYFA Hosts Wounded Warrior Event with Guest Tom Sizemore

    filmmaking

    The New York Film Academy had the unique opportunity to host injured service members and their families from the Wounded Warrior Project for a daylong event at its state-of-art Burbank facilities. The events featured a tour of the New York Film Academy’s campus, a filmmaking and acting workshop taught by the Film Academy’s esteemed faculty. In addition to the workshops, NYFA screened True Romance followed by a Q&A with award-winning actor Tom Sizemore. In addition to his role on True Romance, Sizemore has appeared in such films as Heat, Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and more.

    The warriors and their families had the opportunity to participate in an acting or filmmaking workshop. Those interested in the acting were put in front of a camera, and directed by a NYFA instructor on simple scenes while learning the fundamentals of acting. Many of them shared personal stories, which applied to being emotionally available in their work. They learned essential tools of the industry and how to translate their life experiences within their craft.

    nyfa students

    Warriors interested in filmmaking learned about the aspects of a film set, the qualities that make a good director and employment in the film industry. They also had the opportunity for intensive hands-on experience working with state-of-the-art cameras and equipment. They were asked to work as a team to direct, operate cameras, act, and shoot a scene from an existing film.

    Tom Sizemore

    Actor Tom Sizemore at the New York Film Academy

    After the workshop, NYFA screened True Romance followed by a Q&A with award-winning actor Tom Sizemore. During the Q&A, Mr. Sizemore spoke to the more than 70 NYFA veterans and wounded warriors in attendance about his upbringing, the importance of his family, and military service as he has two brothers currently serving in the military. He was open and honest about his experiences as an actor, and the personal struggles he has endured throughout his career. Veterans in audience were able to ask Mr. Sizemore questions as well as those students attending classes at the New York and Australian campuses as it was live streamed. Mr. Sizemore stayed afterwards to take photos with many of the veterans and their families. They were extremely excited to meet him, and expressed their sincere gratitude for his attendance and his support shown to the veteran community.

    The New York Film Academy is appreciative of the Wounded Warrior Project and Tom Sizemore for collaborating on this event to support injured service members and their families.

    sizemore and veterans

    May 8, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 718

  • From Doctor in Saudi Arabia to Acting Student in Los Angeles

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    Often creative individuals are afraid to take the necessary steps toward becoming a working artist, especially those who have found a comfortable life in another professional industry. One of our newest students put fear aside and decided to pursue his passion for acting. As a doctor in Saudi Arabia, Abdulhakeem Jomah still felt that something was missing in his life. After learning about a friend who had taken up filmmaking at New York Film Academy and another in the producing program, Jomah became more and more interested in our hands-on programs. Ultimately, his decision was to enroll into NYFA’s MFA Acting for Film Program in Los Angeles — stark contrast from being a doctor. We decided to have a brief chat with the new student, as perhaps his story could pave ways for others looking to break into a creative pursuit.

    What ultimately made you decide to go from being a doctor to pursuing acting at the New York Film Academy?

    I’ve always been into acting as more of a hobby — coming from a militarily academic family very much eliminates an academic pursuit of the arts right off the bat.

    I suppose my tipping point was when a group of amateur actors, led by an ambitious director, took a pretty daring chance (considering the highly traditional playing field) in staging an all English, localized adaptation of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. In which I would play the lead, McMurphy.

    It was a hectic eight months of rehearsal at one of the local college auditoriums where we were meant to stage it. And not three weeks before opening night we were shut down by the government.

    We were in shambles for a good while, but a private benefactor took up our cause. He gave us his estate to use for our play.

    And for one night, we did two shows, to two explosive standing ovations. The energy was electric. The aftermath very positive, and the pleads for more thrummed through the following year.

    Seeing that energy, that positivity, the fruits of our near nine month struggle come to fruition, we weren’t paid, we did it because we loved it and it was ALL worth it, and I’d do it again, a million times over.

    That, is what made me realize that this is what I needed to do.

    Have you acted in anything prior to the play: professional or otherwise?

    Aside from the play I mentioned earlier, nothing professional.

    Abdullah Kurashi, the aforementioned production student, and I have done a lot of shorts together back in Saudi. Ranging from Joker impersonation videos for local competitions, to completely random, often psychotic shorts. Only because we loved doing it.

    Is there an actor who inspires you?

    I can mention oldies all day, but there are actors that have a deep, personal methodology that I respect and one day hope to attain that discipline.

    Christian Bale, is at the top of that list. His methodology is absurdly dedicated and there’s nothing I didn’t love him in.

    Jake Gyllenhaal was the star of the first movie I ever called my favorite (Donnie Darko), and has ridiculously come into his own recently with Nightcrawler and Prisoners.

    But most recently, Oscar Isaac has really won me ove with Inside Llewyn Davis, and Ex Machina — he’s just a cool guy.

    What do you hope to achieve with your training at NYFA?

    I’ve no illusions of living the American dream and making millions. I have a genuine, embedded love for the craft. If it were about the money, doctors make tons of it. I’d stick with that and call it a day.

    There are artists in the Middle East that CAN’T go public with their art out of fear or scrutiny, it’s a taboo. And I want to change that. We can only perform after jumping through a million and one hoops, and even then with restriction.

    If nothing else, I’m hoping this move will inspire my fellow artists in the trenches and foxholes to come out and show the world what we have, and perhaps in doing that, shed light and awareness on all other issues that, if addressed and abolished, could better our home.

    And I’d love to say I was at the vanguard of that movement.

    May 7, 2015 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1178

  • NYFA Hosts Transmedia Panel with Final Draft

    transmedia panel

    On Thursday, April 9th, the New York Film Academy, in cooperation with Final Draft, hosted a “Life In Transmedia” Panel. The panel was arranged as part of NYFA’s Final Draft Fellowship, a 12 week Writing Fellowship for the finalists and winners of Final Draft’s Big Break Contest. The fellows were in attendance at the panel, as were NYFA students and alumni. The Panel, the first in a series, will soon be followed by a “Life In Television” Panel and a “Life In Features” Panel.

    The “Life In Transmedia” Panel, moderated by Adam Finer, NYFA’s Associate Chair of Screenwriting and architect of the school’s groundbreaking Transmedia track and Media Studies Program, explored the life of content creators, writers and producers in the new and expanding field of Transmedia. Also examined were the individual mediums that play a role in Transmedia, such as comics, videogames, podcasts, blogs, and webseries.

    nyfa transmedia

    Some notable words from the panel included:

    “Whatever your platform is: if it’s the web, if it’s comics…write every day. Even if you’re posting it, even if it’s garbage, just something, write something every day. And keep doing that and you will have something.” – Josh Eiserike

     

    “Transmedia, or multi-platform narratives, it’s telling a story in a way that asks the audience to lean in as opposed to just leaning back for the story. It’s asking the audience, hey, we’ve got a bigger world here. You don’t just have to watch it you can poke your head in and interact with it a little bit.” – Margaret Dunlap

     

    “I think transmedia takes you beyond ‘but’ and ‘so’ as solutions, and it’s much more ‘this happens, and then over here this other thing happens’. When you’re in transmedia, you want us to ask ‘what’s behind that door? What’s in that safe?’ …You want the fans to ask ‘what’s the combination to the the safe?’ And you want the fans to find out what’s in it.” – Nunzio DeFilippis

     

    Adam engaged the panelists in a spirited discussion of the avenues that led them to the Transmedia world. The panelists explored what makes a Transmedia project and debated the definition of Transmedia. Panelists ultimately defined Transmedia story telling as building story worlds that have unique story components in various different storytelling platforms. The panelists delved into the growing nature of Transmedia itself, how to build and engage an audience in various media forms, the virtues of each respective medium, and storytelling across all media. Panelists discussed the unique ability of Transmedia storytelling to truly engage an audience and even have the audience expand the story world.  A conversation about how to use crowd-funding to activate an audience to support a project examined how to access the community to finance projects and even a career.

    “You need to be able to embrace the chaos. You kind of have to hug it and expect it and if you’re not rattled by it then you can look at it as something kind of amazing. And really cool stuff happens.” – John Zuur Platten

     

    “I’m not sure you can always start out with a transmedia project. It’s really big and complicated and overwhelming. You have to start with the story you want to tell, the character you want to explore, a thing you want to do and figure out which is the best medium for it.” – Christina Weir

     

    “For everyone here there’s a pinpoint moment, maybe five, that lead down the road to whatever amazing thing they’re doing today.” – Jennie Josephson

    adam finer

    The Transmedia panelists (all of whom teach, or have guest lectured, at NYFA) included:

    • John Zuur Platten, writer/producer of video games (Google’s INGRESS, THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, FEAR EFFECT) and co-author of the book THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO VIDEO GAME WRITING DESIGN
    • Jennie Josephson, producer, blogger, and podcaster (CBS Interactive, Yahoo!, Daily Tech News Show with Tom Merritt)
    • Margaret Dunlap, writer on the Emmy Award Winning webseries THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARIES, Executive Producer of the webseries WELCOME TO SANDITON, and writer on the TV series EUREKA and THE MIDDLEMAN
    • Josh Eiserike, writer/artist for MAD MAGAZINE, and the comics (ANYONE BUT VIRGINIA, ANNA AND PAT)
    • Nunzio DeFilippis (chair of the Screenwriting Department) & Christina Weir, writers of the comics X-MEN, BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL, BAD MEDICINE, FRENEMY OF THE STATE, as well as the TV series ARLISS and KIM POSSIBLE.

    At the end of the discussion, the audience was invited to ask questions, which ranged from how-to advice to specific questions about the writing work and preferred medium of each panelist. The ultimate message imparted was to find the medium that works best for the story you want to tell and go out and do it. Create. Write.

    Adam Finer left the audience with these final words of inspiration: “You guys can create content. You guys have access to an audience. You can steer the ship easily and not have to worry about having a giant battleship block you. You have the ability to create these worlds and engage that audience in a way we’ve never had before.”

    Led by DeFilippis, Finer and Weir, New York Film Academy’s Screenwriting Department offers a cutting edge Transmedia Track in the MFA and BFA Screenwriting Programs.

    May 1, 2015 • Acting • Views: 391

  • NYFA Covers Young Storytellers’ Final ‘Glee’ Big Show

    glee cast

    As part of our on-going collaboration with the wonderful Young Storytellers Foundation, New York Film Academy students and alumni recently got the chance to film “THE FINAL GLEE BIG SHOW.”

    Glee cast members Mark Salling, Dot Marie Jones, Harry Shum Jr., Max Adler, and Alex Newell along with Chrissie Fit (Teen Beach Movie, Pitch Perfect 2) performed four different short screenplays written by a group of inventive middle schoolers.
    glee la
    The connection between Glee and Young Storytellers dates back to the organization’s very beginnings when Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk helped create what is now YSF. Since then, Mr Falchuk has regularly brought the cast of Glee to perform the student’s material as part of YSF’s “Big Show.” With Glee now coming to a close after six seasons, this performance truly marked the end of an era.

    NYFA was honored to be part of the experience, and congratulates the cast and crew of Glee as well as all the Young Storytellers Writers.

  • New York Film Academy Highlights Acting Chair Lynda Goodfriend

    One of the many enticing aspects of attending one of the New York Film Academy’s programs is the ability to learn hands-on from professionals who have and continue to have such a strong grasp of the professional entertainment business. The best teacher is someone with real life experience in his or her field. Our Los Angeles Acting for Film Chair, Lynda Goodfriend, oversees the acting for film school with a tremendously versatile and impressive background, having performed and acted in both New York City and Los Angeles.

    goodfriend happy days

    After college, Goodfriend started her career as a professional dancer and singer on Broadway, Off Broadway and, as she puts it, “Way-off Broadway.”

    “It was everything I’d dreamt of! One of the highlights was to work with a young performer just starting his career as well, John Travolta” recalls Goodfriend. “When I started to take my acting more seriously, I began studying with the master teachers Lee Strasberg and Sandy Meisner, which made me believe that my ultimate goal as a performer was to be a ‘dramatic actress.'”

    After being in a couple of very small roles in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with Robert De Niro and The Front with Woody Allen, Lynda drove to Los Angeles with ambition and her SAG card. To her surprise, Goodfriend booked a variety of sitcom roles, rather than the dramas she was accustomed to.

    “I started classes at Harvey Lembeck’s comedy workshop and would come home crying after every class—it was so hard! But now I love comedy and appreciate the actors who do it well. Among my classmates was a young comedian who could not get work as an actor because he could not stick to the script, but he was brilliant at improv. A role came up on the series I was doing (Happy Days) and they could not cast the character, so I mentioned this guy from my class. He came in to audition, got the role, and the producers liked him so much they created a series of his own—it was called Mork and Mindy, and the actor, Robin Williams, became a huge star.”

    lynda goodfriend

    Lynda Goodfriend as Lori Beth Cunningham with Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham on ‘Happy Days’

    Lynda is most well known for her role as Lori Beth Cunningham in the hit TV series Happy Days. Along the way she did two other sitcom series, many guest star roles, and several roles in feature films working with such actors as Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, and Julia Roberts. One of her fondest moments, as she recalls, was working with Ray Bolger, the ‘Scarecrow’ from the Wizard of Oz, on an episode of Fantasy Island.

    Taking a break from television, Goodfriend started her own acting school, The Actors Workout in NoHo (North Hollywood, the Theatre District), and developed two schools and a Theatre. She was also the head of a management company, Young Artists Management for many years, working with clients from top talent agencies such as CAA, ICM and William Morris.

    She came back to teaching in 2006 at New York Film Academy, teaching Acting for Film and Scripted TV classes. In 2011, Lynda became—and still serves as—Chair of the Acting Department. “I feel like working in this position pulls together all that I’ve learned from my acting career, teaching and managing careers. And fortunately, since my daughter is a talent agent at one of the top agencies in LA, it’s easy to still keep up with the current trends in the industry, so I can help guide our students.”

    “My goal for the Acting Department at NYFA is to continue to find more techniques and approaches to help actors learn their craft, as well as to expand our students’ opportunities to be involved in the industry after graduation. I love our program and have the honor to work with so many gifted instructors. Since becoming Chair, I have had the opportunity to add the Student Directed Plays, the Studio Classes (advanced “extra” courses in Meisner, Method and Chekov), Alumni Scene Study classes, as well as our extensive list of Drop In Classes—Auditioning, Stage Combat, Improv, Yoga, Meditation, Dance, Accent Reduction, Singing and Ballroom Dance—to support their training.”


    “This program is an amazing gift for students who want to learn everything as an actor. When you graduate from this program you can hit the ground running! I believe that everything you do in life teaches you something about acting, so in my personal life I’ve always tried to do things that challenged me—I’ve raced airplanes, climbed mountains in the Himalayas, and am a competition rider along with my Swedish Warmblood horse, named ‘Othello.’ No matter what you do or pursue it’s all about the same thing—focus, hard work and commitment.”

    The most important words of advice Goodfriend can give any actor that is pursuing a career are:

    1. Work harder than everybody else
    2. Don’t burn bridges
    3. Do something every day to become a better actor: read scripts, plays or anything you can get your hands on, go to the theatre, watch great films, go to class
    4. Never, ever quit

    April 28, 2015 • Acting • Views: 492

  • NYFA Australia Showcasing Their Talent

    It’s showcase time at New York Film Academy Australia. Both our Sydney and Gold Coast campuses, together with Acting for Film students, had been working effortlessly over the months putting together performances that showcase the students’ talents.

    Gold Coast had a busy three-day showcase schedule running throughout early March, featuring 34 of the Academy’s skilled acting students. Each and every night, the Helensvale Cultural Centre was filled with friends and family who had come along to support the graduate actors’ and actresses’ live performances and showreels. The room was filled with great energy and positive vibes as all graduates pulled-off an outstanding performance.

    Congratulations to the Gold Coast Acting for Film graduates:

    New York Film Academy Gold Coast Students

    New York Film Academy Gold Coast Students: Brandon Sherwood, Callum Whitton, Anthony Christodoulou, David Austin, Samantha Willis, Tara Wraith, Michael Stoeckert, Marie-Clare Loi Zou, Jasper Batenga, Will Wensley (instructor), Stephanie Kutty, Paris Moletti, Taryn Roberts and Christine Campbell.

    Thursday 5th March Performers

    • Caleb Saron
    • Christine Campbell
    • David Austin
    • Jim Rossngton
    • John McMahon
    • Marie-Clare Lou Zou
    • Max Gundy
    • Natalie Hunt
    • Rebecca Lyon
    • Samantha Willis
    • Villami Kama
    • Zac Bankowski

    Wednesday 11th March Performers

    • Anthony Christodoulou
    • Brody Arrowsmith
    • Callum Whitton
    • Georgia Pilling
    • Kiara Watson
    • Natalie Jones
    • Nicola Haks
    • Paris Moletti
    • Rhys Williamson
    • Sam Farell
    • Stephanie Kutty
    • Steve Budgen

    Thursday 12th March Performers

    • Ashley Dunscombe
    • Brandon Sherwood
    • Clare Brimmer
    • Jasper Batenga
    • Joshua Conboy
    • Kerri-Anne Keenan
    • Laura Scott
    • Tara Wraith
    • Taryn Roberts
    • Zoe Bankowski

     

    As we headed down the coast of Australia, on Friday 6th March, Sydney was preparing for an over-capacity performance at the Australian Theater for Young People, located above the Sydney Theatre Company and accompanied with the breathtaking backdrop of Walsh Bay.

    Over the months leading up to the showcase, acting one-year program graduates of the night, Chantelle Von Appen, Chris Strauss, Alexander Merlo, David Pound, Nicole Torode, Rafael Haddad and Andrew Murdoch were able to experience exactly why New York Film Academy programs are defined by their intensive, hands-on reputation. Graduates’ commitment and dedication truly shined on the night, with their high caliber execution of mixed scene performances and beat poetry receiving a well-deserved standing-ovation from audience members, family, friends, NYFA staff and instructors.

    With a buzz in the air, graduates continued to showcase their works to a number of agents and casting directors at the Sony Theatrette. The opportunity for students to present their showreels was nerve-wracking but again, was received positively by students, agents and casting directors, alike.

    New York Film Academy Sydney

    New York Film Academy Sydney Students on-stage showcasing their talents.

    New York Film Academy Sydney

    New York Film Academy Sydney. From left, Rafael Haddad, David Pound, Nicole Torode, Jennie Hughes (NYFA Sydney, General Manager), Alexander Merlo, Chantelle Von Appen, Chris Strauss & Andrew Murdoch.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank all students, graduates and teaching staff who worked tirelessly to produce such a successful program, making it possible to accomplish these inspiring events and performances. We congratulate all students who have now joined our NYFA Alumni family and look forward to another prosperous year working with talented, upcoming actors and actresses.

    View the photos from the events here:

  • J.K. Simmons Finds a Navy SEALS Role More His Tempo

    jk simmons

    Fresh off his Oscar win for his incredible performance in Whiplash, J.K. Simmons is filling his dance card with an upcoming slate of high-profile movies. He’s already signed on for Skull Island, the epic sequel to Peter Jackson’s King Kong starring The Avengers’ Tom Hiddleston and Birdman’s Michael Keaton, set for release in 2017.

    This week, Simmons added another role, that of a Navy SEAL commanding officer giving his troops a hard time—a part he was seemingly born to play. The film is The Lake, a thriller about the aforementioned SEALs searching for sunken treasure in Serbia.

    The Lake is being co-written and produced by prolific French filmmaker Luc Besson, director of La Femme Nikita, León, The Fifth Element and Lucy and creator of The Transporter and Taken series. Steven Quale, director of Final Destination 5 and Into the Storm and a long-time collaborator of James Cameron, will be helming The Lake. Quale is a fitting choice, considering his work with Cameron on other water-based adventures The Abyss and the 3D IMAX documentary Aliens of the Deep.

    Simmons recently spoke with New York Film Academy students about his well-lauded roles in Spider-Man, Portal 2, The Legend of Korra, The Closer, and, of course, Whiplash. There’s no doubt he will bring his trademark talent and passion to The Lake.

    March 25, 2015 • Acting, Entertainment News, Guest Speakers • Views: 343

  • Oscar Winning Actor J.K. Simmons Visits NYFA

    jk simmons

    Academy-Award Winning Actor J.K. Simmons

    New York Film Academy students gathered in a theater at Warner Bros. Studios this past week for a special screening of Whiplash followed by a Q&A with this year’s Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons. Jonathan Kimble (“J. K.” Simmons) is known for his roles as Dr. Emil Skoda on the NBC series Law & Order (and other Law & Order franchise series), neo-Nazi Vernon Schillinger on the HBO prison drama series Oz, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope on the TNT series The Closer, J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, and the voices of Cave Johnson in the 2011 puzzle game Portal 2 and Tenzin in The Legend of Korra. Simmons’s performance as music instructor Terence Fletcher in Whiplash (2014) received universal acclaim and earned him more than 30 accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe and BAFTA Award. Producer Tova Laiter moderated the discussion.

    To anyone who’s seen Whiplash, the memory of J.K. Simmons’ role as Fletcher, the music conservatory instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a promising young drummer’s potential, is burned into their memory. Soon after the credits finished rolling, and the man who had just captured the students’ attention so intensely on screen appeared in the flesh and took the stage, the whole theater immediately erupted into cheers and applause during a standing ovation. It was interesting to see how much of a contrast the terrifyingly sadistic Fletcher was to the real man behind the role. J.K. was upbeat, jovial, and having the students laughing in stitches with his endless stream of quips. He was as appreciative to be there as the student’s were to see him and even though the line of students waiting to ask questions stretched to the back of the theater and nearly out the door, J.K. stayed until every last question was answered.

    jk simmons

    Actor J.K. Simmons with Producer Tova Laiter

    J.K. talked about the incredibly fateful circumstances surrounding the Whiplash feature. Director Damien Chazelle wrote the part of the student drummer Andrew for Miles Teller not knowing at all the the actor had been a drummer since the age of 15. What’s more, when Damien first approached J.K. about playing the part of music instructor Fletcher, he assured him that there would be a music technical advisor on set and that they could use a body double for difficult orchestral scenes. As it turned out, however, Mr. Simmons studied music in college. “I thought I was going to be Leonard Bernstein when I grew up, but I took a few left turns…” J.K. jokingly said. “It was just all meant to be.”

    Elaborating more on the making of the film that changed his life forever, Mr. Simmons explained that when he first met Damien Chazelle the director was only 26 years old. However, despite Damien’s lack of experience, the two immediately clicked as J.K. saw the genius within the young director. Within 10 minutes of working together on the Whiplash short film, Simmon’s and Chazella knew they would be working together on the feature version. Simmon’s also had a comfortable, creatively exciting relationship with actor Miles Teller on set. Even though the tension between them was high on screen, the two would joke around together between takes on set. This was also due to the relaxed environment Damien created on set which allowed for experimentation from the actors. An interesting fact about the young music students from the various college bands in the film was that, aside from a few, they were composed of real student musicians, not actors. And during the filming the bands were actually creating real music!

    jk at nyfa

    While reminiscing on the long road that took him to where he is now J.K. said, “When I look back it almost seems like I had a plan. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and doing what I really enjoy doing… When I was scrapping by and making ends meet, I didn’t have a wife and kids and any responsibilities… In my case, the level of success, acclaim, attention I’ve gotten more and more of in the last decade or so, if that had happened when I was 25 years old I would not have been prepared creatively, personally in any way.”

    March 23, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1249

  • NBC Visits NYFA in Search of Diverse Talent

    nbc diversity

    NBC’s Grace Moss presenting NBC’s Diversity Initiative Programs

    This past Thursday, March 19th at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, our students, alumni and faculty were treated to an informational session on NBC’s Entertainment Diversity Programs hosted by Grace Moss.

    The goal of their initiatives is to increase diversity on the network through programs like Writers on the Verge, the Directing Fellowship Program, NBCU Short Film Festival and Scene Showcase.

    Grace was able to break down each program with her informative presentation, and answered questions from the audience. She even answered specific one on one questions for students after the presentation.

    nbc diversity

    The New York Film Academy strongly recommends its students of diversity apply to these programs, as it is an amazing opportunity to break into the industry on a serious level.

    Below are just a handful of the programs Grace highlighted in her presentation:

    DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM The Directing Fellowship Program is designed to take directors accomplished in their respective fields (features, commercials and/or music videos) and give them the opportunity to work alongside episodic television directors. The selected directors will foster relationships and fine-tune their art to fit the television format.

    NBCUNIVERSAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL The Short Cuts Film Festival is an initiative to discover diverse voices both in front of and behind the camera. It provides creative individuals of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to get their materials in front of key decision makers from the entire NBCUniversal family, as well as agents, managers, producers, and other industry players.

    WRITERS ON THE VERGE Writers on the Verge is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. We are looking for writers who are “almost there,” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills.

    LATE NIGHT WRITERS WORKSHOP The NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop is a program focused on exposing talented joke, sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late-night & alternative lineup and readying them for a staff writer position.

    NBC SCENE SHOWCASE A 6-8 week workshop of original scenes by diverse writers, cast with up-and-coming actors and guided by directors of diverse backgrounds presented in a one-day showcase for executives, producers, casting directors, and other industry professionals.

     

    March 20, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 887