• NYFA Moderates Talk with Sacha Baron Cohen at “The Brothers Grimsby” NY Event

    As a man who has built a career on shocking his audience, Sacha Baron Cohen continues to push the envelope with his new comedy, The Brothers Grimsby. In celebration of his new release, Sony invited New York Film Academy students to a special New York City screening, which was moderated by NYFA Instructor Ben Cohen.

    Adorned in some sort of hipster, cowboy attire, the always hilarious Sacha Baron Cohen took the time to chat and take photos with our students. Before screening the film, Sacha showed us an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at some of the production behind Bruno, which gave insight into the delicate and creative planning that goes into each bit. It’s actually more complicated and dangerous than one would think.

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    NYFA Instructor Ben Cohen with Sacha Baron Cohen

    The Brothers Grimsby, which also stars actors Mark Strong, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson and others, revolves around a football hooligan who winds up teaming up with his long lost brother, a top spy, in order to ultimately save the world from a deadly virus outbreak. As expected, the film delivers outrageous moments that would only fly in Cohen’s world, and one can’t help but laugh.

    Following the screening at the Regal Union Square in New York, Ben Cohen opened up a discussion with Sacha Baron Cohen that focused on the character and story development that went into the pre-production of the film. Sacha explained how he sees his rowdy, family-oriented character as a sort of “everyman” thrown into the high-tech world of a spy where the stakes are extremely high.

    sacha baron cohen nyfa hat

    Several NYFA students were given the opportunity to ask questions as Ben opened the discussion up to the sold out Regal theatre. In fact, at one point, the crowd seemed as though they were on a comedy audition of their own as the discussion included a bit of hilarity in itself.

    “I had an amazing night with other NYFA students and also got to meet one of my heroes, Sacha Baron Cohen,” said NYFA student and U.S. veteran, Corporal Michael J. Lynch.

    Sacha Baron Cohen reached a somewhat touching conclusion to the evening by stating, “I know it sounds cheesy, but I had a moment when I heard the crowd going wild and I had this realization that I’m doing this all for the fans.”

    The Brothers Grimsby is now playing in theaters.

    March 10, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 2130

  • NYFA Veterans Support NYC Military Office of Veterans Affairs

    Veteran students from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) were again invited to film New York City’s Veteran Advisory Board (VAB) quarterly meetings, the first of 2016, by the Mayor’s Office of Veteran Affairs. The VAB meeting heralded the historic creation of New York City’s Department of Veteran Affairs. Commissioner Loree Sutton, MD. (BGen Rt.), thanked the New York Film Academy and the veteran-student filmmakers and cinematographers that worked to capture the evening’s meeting for web-broadcast, before giving the floor to those wishing to address the board and those in attendance.

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    Commissioner Loree Sutton, M.D. (Brig. Gen. Rt.) addresses the attendees of the first Veteran Advisory Board Meeting of 2016

    New York Film Academy’s veteran student alumni, Wally Colon and Tarrell Childs, both native New Yorkers and graduates of NYFA’s Filmmaking and Cinematography programs, were on hand to film the meeting for the City’s website.

    “Being adaptable as a filmmaker is key to success early on,” says Tarrell Childs. “While I am busy working on creative ventures as a filmmaker, I like take time to stay connected to the veteran community by putting the skills I learned at the New York Film Academy to use for practical events, like community outreach programs and engagement.”

    The New York Film Academy is proud of its continuing commitment to support those that served in the U.S. armed forces and also their dependents. As just one example, veteran students and alumni from the New York Film Academy have most recently partnered with the United Veteran War Council, a veteran advocacy organization, but may be best known for their yearly production of the NYC’s Veterans Day Parade. Veteran film students from NYFA worked on the production crew throughout the lead-up and execution of the parade. Taping interviews and segments, as well as the live production, the experience was a rewarding way to break into professional production and camerawork for all the students that participated.

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    NYFA Veteran student, Wally Colon, filming the Veteran Advisory Board Meeting of NYC

    The New York Film Academy, the world’s largest and most prestigious visual and performing arts private institution, is a certified and award-winning Military Friendly School committed to supporting this newest generation of veterans. NYFA is proud to serve military veterans and service members in their pursuit of a world-class education in filmmaking—and related disciplines—through its Veterans Advancement Program Chaired by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient.

    March 10, 2016 • Acting • Views: 781

  • NYFA South Beach Introduces The Movement Club

    Founded at the New York Film Academy South Beach, The Movement Club is an outreach organization of students whose purpose is to spread light through the “healing art of acting.”

    Their most recent event, Unzipped, which took place at 360 spaces in Wynwood on February 18th, 2016, was a wonderful venue to introduce both NYFA and the Movement Club to the South Beach area.

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    “The ability to have the freedom to execute such a brave request is proof that NYFA is building solid and sound artists that have trust and faith in their abilities and a grounded purpose beyond themselves,” said NYFA’s Susie Taylor.

    After students complete a session of Taylor’s movement technique (S.M.U.R.F.) they are given the opportunity to join the Movement Club. The S.M.U.R.F. Technique stands for Story-Movement-Understanding-Rewriting and Future.

    The concept is to take what they have learned about themselves and their classmates out to the community and continue to evolve as artists through our outreach work based on love and kindness towards each other.

    NYFA South Beach is excited to continue this effort for its acting students to explore, develop and execute the passion of the Healing Art of Acting.

    If you’re interested in the performing arts programs at the New York Film Academy South Beach, please visit

    March 3, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 1423

  • Students Introduced to New WeMash Platform

    Last week, students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus spent an evening with Quincy Jones, III and Sal Siino, co-founders of the exciting new Internet media company, WeMash.

    WeMash provides a cloud-based platform that provides users access to world-famous, top-quality content (studio blockbusters, television series, news footage, sports coverage, documentaries, music and more). The users repurpose and edit the existing content to create brand new works for distribution.


    Quincy Jones, III and Sal Siino, co-founders of the exciting new Internet media company, WeMash

    Quincy brings almost three decades of producing top-selling Rap and R&B albums, as well as documentaries about the music industry’s most famous artists. Sal brings twenty years of experience leading content-based media companies and as a transactional attorney. With their reputations in the entertainment industry, they’ve been able to secure licensing deals with the likes of NBCUniversal, BMG, Reuters, Downtown Music, America’s Funniest Home Videos, and a long list of independent content owners. Their rapidly expanding library already contains over 100,000 hours of video and music.

    WeMash users have unique access to this material (which is meta-tagged for easy search, preview and retrieval), and share in advertising revenue generated by their new creations. The WeMash creator platform is currently in an invitation-only access phase, with broad access expected later in 2016. During the Q&A, Sal and Quincy announced a great opportunity for NYFA students to apply for early creator status during this preliminary rollout.

    wemash creators

    “WeMash is excited to connect young talent with the world’s most celebrated content so they can re-imagine content beyond its original context, and we’re thrilled to invite NYFA students on to the WeMash creator platform,” Sal told Sonny Calderon, Dean of the College at New York Film Academy.

    Quincy added, “As a music producer in the early days of hip-hop, I had a unique vantage point into the proliferation of music sampling. I see the same movement happening in video today. Mash-ups are the video equivalent to sampling, and we are set for the next explosion in this art form.”

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    Sonny Calderon, Dean of the College at New York Film Academy; Quincy Jones, III; Sal Siino

    After moderating the Q&A, Sonny Calderon reflected on the opportunities sites like WeMash can afford up-and-coming visual storytellers: “In today’s climate, all visual storytellers—actors, writers, directors, animators, and others—must create a brand for themselves. And they must generate awareness of that brand. Who are you as a storyteller? What are you capable of creating? WeMash gives artists a free opportunity to help create that brand awareness.”

    New York Film Academy is grateful for the chance to partner with WeMash, and eagerly awaits what our students will create on the site.

    March 1, 2016 • Acting • Views: 922

  • Industry Lab: From Berlin to Los Angeles

    The New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab serves as a professional starting point for its student members, providing real world experience while preparing them for life after graduation.
    Industry Lab members, Maram Al Jaoser, a recent graduate from New York Film Academy’s Masters in Cinematography program, Yiqing Yong, an international student from China, current filmmaking student, Ana Reinhard, and alumna from the Master’s in Filmmaking program, Allyson Manno, had the opportunity to interview international artists and attend music workshops at the Goethe-Institut L.A., the Ace Hotel, Bold Space DTLA, and the Standard Downtown during the two-day event From Berlin to LA.

    The theme of this event is bringing these artists together to discuss their connection and influence that both Los Angeles and Berlin have on the artists and the electronic dance music scene.
    Topics and panels included: digital production, synthesizer customization, digital vocal production, and treatment. The panels featured music industry leaders such as: Native Instruments, Amoeba Records, and Discogs, along with XLR8R and hosted a special panel at Bold Space DTLA to discuss with the artists the influences of each city on their sound and the cultural lifestyles.


    Zernell spins underground parties and clubs around Los Angeles and runs the internationally acclaimed Grimy Edits label.

    The event also hosted an all-day digital production workshop for teens and young adults who learned from current professionals in the industry about the electronic dance music culture.
    Friday night, there was projection of Walther Ruttmann 1927 city symphony film Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt (Berlin: Symphony of a Great City) with live improvisation by Lucky Paul & Friends at the Goethe-Institut auditorium.

    Carlos Oblivion & Black Replica watching as 19th Moon DJs

    Carlos Oblivion & Black Replica watching as 19th Moon DJs

    Concerts, after shows, and club nights featuring DJ sets by Anna Cavazos, Katie Otro, Mor Elian, Perera Elsewhere, Masha and Dersu featuring 19th Moon live vox.

    From Berlin to LA brought in artists such as Anna Cavazos (NYC/L.A./Berlin), Carlos Oblivion & Black Replica (Detroit/Berlin/L.A.), Dersu (Berlin/L.A., Vice), Katie Otro (L.A./Berlin/Ibiza), Lucky Paul (Auckland/Berlin/L.A.). Masha (L.A., Dig Deeper), Mor Elian (Tel Aviv/L.A./Berlin, Prime Numbers), Perera Elsewhere (London/Berlin, L.A. label FoF), Robot Koch (Berlin/L.A., Monkeytown), Simonne Jones (L.A./Berlin), Zernell & Son (L.A., Grimy), and 19th Moon (Berlin/L.A.).

    February 23, 2016 • Acting • Views: 1217

  • Ken Lerner’s “Friends” Reunion on ‘The People Vs O.J. Simpson’

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    David Schwimmer and Ken Lerner in the premiere of ‘The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” (FX)

    If you’ve been watching FX’s popular new mini-series The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, you may have referenced another 90’s moment outside from the infamous Simpson murder trial. If not, what you TV buffs should have noticed is New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film instructor Ken Lerner reuniting with David Schwimmer—both appeared on a Season 9 episode of Friends titled “The One With the Soap Opera Party.” Ironically, Lerner plays attorney Howard Weitzman, who is ultimately replaced by attorney Robert Kardashian, played by Schwimmer.

    Coincidentally enough, Lerner guest-starred in the one-off “Friends” role as a professor who traps Ross (Schwimmer) and then love interest Charlie (Aisha Tyler) in a less than enthusiastic conversation. Not to worry, Lerner is merely showing off his acting chops here—he’s actually a captivating teacher at the Academy.

    Kudos to Mr. Lerner, who will also soon be appearing in the Mike Judge, HBO series Silicon Valley.

    February 11, 2016 • Acting, Entertainment News • Views: 1169

  • NYFA’s Industry Lab Teams up with Mattew Modine, Tisha Campbell and Others

    The New York Film Academy’s Industry Lab is a student­ run production entity supervised by NYFA faculty. The Lab serves as a professional starting point for its student members, providing real world experience while preparing them for life after graduation.

    Over the past year, Lab members have produced professional projects for multiple companies, including Warner Bros., Red Light Management, and The Young Storyteller’s Foundation.

    industry lab

    Recently, the Industry Lab had the opportunity to work on several exciting projects with industry professionals. Here is a breakdown of what they’ve accomplished:

    Short Film with Actor Matthew Modine

    Members of NYFA Industry Lab had the opportunity to work with Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, The Dark Knight Rises), who directed his latest short film, Super Sex, starring Ed Asner (Disney’s Up!, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Kevin Nealon (Weeds, Saturday Night Live), and Elizabeth Perkins (Miracle on 34th Street, Weeds), along with Ruby Modine (Plastic Jesus, Merry Xmas) and Efren Ramirez (Napoleon Dynamite, The Alamo).

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    Matthew Modine and Kevin Nealon

    Director of Photography, Julio Macat (Home Alone, Pitch Perfect, Miracle on 34th Street) interacted closely with all the Industry Lab members giving them an opportunity to talk about working in the industry.

    Working alongside seasoned professionals as key crew members such as: Mara Topic who worked closely as associate producer with producer Joe Toronto (Howl, Classless, Engagement), Joann Wong who worked as set decorator with production designer Danielle King, and Allyson Manno who filmed behind-the-scenes footage alongside Frank Masi (The Hangover, Troy, Armageddon).

    The members of the Industry Lab were treated as professionals while still having the opportunity to gain close insight and experience from both crew and cast.

    Tisha Campbell Music Video “Steel Here

    The video was directed by Viktorija Pashuta, who is considered one of the foremost fashion music video directors in the country. Shot in a Los Angeles warehouse in one day, Industry Lab members were given an insider’s look at how music videos are produced on a professional level.

    “Tisha was great to work with, and really cared about her crew,” said NYFA Instructor Craig Ross, Jr.

    Other key crew members included:

    • Samuel McKnight – Director’s Assistant
    • Keline Kanoui – Assistant Producer
    • Giulia Governo – 2nd AC
    • Badr Farha – Assistant to the Production Designer
    • Kraig Dane – Best Boy Electric

    “Fierce” Social Content for Music Artist Chenelle

    Lab members created content for music artist Che’Nelle’s Youtube channel for her song “Fierce.” In it she tells us why she’s “fierce” and wants to know why other people might think that about themselves. The video is a street interview session shot outside the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, in which people are asked, “What makes you fierce?”

    Industry Lab member Ferid Hasbun was chosen by the client (Sara Olea, Che’Nelle’s manager) to direct from a treatment that he wrote for the project.


    Other Industry Lab members on the project included:

    • Mara Topic
    • Yiqing Yong
    • Valeria Costa
    • Li Yang

    “When Red is White”

    This short film, which is entirely in Portuguese, was shot in two days at a very old home in Los Angeles. The story is about two people making love for the first time since they’ve been struck with blindness. Thalia Ayala Shares, a huge star in her home country of Brazil, plays the lead in this short film, which was produced by NYFA students and alumni—the crew was made up of our Industry Lab members.

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    • Aditya Patwardhan – Director
    • Helena Sardinha -1st AD
    • Anup Kulkarni – DP
    • Joanne Wong – Grip

    Overall, the New York Film Academy Industry Lab continues to help students and recent alumni hone their skills while beefing up their portfolio with pertinent credits. We look forward to many more challenging projects in 2016!

    February 10, 2016 • Acting • Views: 988

  • Sanzhar Madiyev Stars in Russia’s Highly Anticipated ‘Zaschitniki’

    In 2011 “Kazakhfilm” studio sent a group of young filmmakers to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles for a 4-week Filmmaking Workshop. Among them was an aspiring actor and director named Sanzhar Madiyev. Now, Madiyev stars in the neo-noir superhero film Zaschitniki (Guardians) directed by Sarik Andreasyan. The film was listed in the Top-20 most anticipated Russian movies in 2016.

    “I liked the enthusiasm and the atmosphere at NYFA, so in one year I decided to come back and take the 8-week Acting for Film Workshop,” said Madiyev.


    Since then, he has developed a very impressive acting career in both film and television, including Khod Konem (Armenia/Kazakhstan) directed by Gor Kirakosian, The Way Home (Kazakhstan) directed by Rashid Suleimenov, the TV series Marco Polo (USA), Hunting the Phantom (Kazakhstan) directed by Marina Kunarova, Amanat (Kazakhstan) directed by Satybaldy Narymbetov and, most recently, Married at 30 (Kazakhstan) directed New York Film Academy alum Askar Bissembin and Zaschitniki (Russia) directed by Sarik Andreasyan.

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    Madiyev initially found out about the open casting from his friend and decided to submit photos and resume. For the second round he was asked to tape and send a scene. After that he was contacted by the production office and invited to Moscow for a meeting with director and producer. This personal meeting resulted in him being cast as the lead character Khan. Khan (Windman) is a member of the group of superheroes altering and augmenting the DNA in order to defend the homeland from supernatural danger during the Cold War.

    On working with Sarik Andreasyan, Sanzhar Madiyev said: “This is a case when the work becomes the pleasure and leads into a friendship. I like his directing style—he is very calm and unruffled, and it gives strength, especially during heavy scenes.“

    Sanzhar Madiyev also directs music videos and short movies when he has a break between acting projects. In the future, he would like to direct his own feature but he believes that there is the right time for everything. He is grateful for the useful advice he has received from the talented professional NYFA instructors: David M. Wexler, George Russo, George McGrath and Bruce Ducat, who he still keeps in contact with.

    The New York Film Academy is very proud of Sanzhar Madiyev, and we look forward to seeing him on the silver screen!

    February 4, 2016 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1625

  • NYFA Students Launch Web Series Tackling US-Arab Racial Conflicts

    aymenAlArabiya, the largest and most respected Middle Eastern news outlet, has given a huge boost to the social media efforts of a group of New York Film Academy students who have teamed up to create the thought-provoking web series, SargoWithin one week of airing on YouTube, the series trailer reached over 100,000 views and interest continues to grow.

    Filmmaker Aymen Khoja (May ’14 MFA Feature Track Filmmaker) has written and directed the web series about a young Saudi guy who is kidnapped by two dim but dangerous men. The audience must ponder: ‘Will he be able to find his way to freedom or arrive home in a box?’

    The series tackles relevant topics such as U.S. and Arab racial bias and racial profiling.

    Khoja, in development at NYFA for his first feature film, Shoot, has assembled a team of currently enrolled NYFA students for the series. Working both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, NYFA students are:

    • Creator, writer/director AYMEN KHOJA (May ’14 MFA Feature Track Filmmaking)
    • Producers MUHAMMAD ALAWI (Fall ’15 BFA Producing) and ALMOTAZ ALJEFRI (January ’13 BFA Filmmaking)
    • Actors MAAN BIN ABDULRAHMAN (January ’13 BFA Filmmaking) and JUSTIN LIGHTFOOT (May ’14 BFA Acting)
    • Social media TALHA BIN ABDULRAHMAN (September ’13 BFA Filmmaking)

    The AlArabiya interview can be viewed below:

    Congratulations, NYFA students on your outstanding collaborative effort!

    February 3, 2016 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1265

  • Eka Darville: From Down Under to Hell’s Kitchen

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    Eka Darville

    As an Australian actor on the up and up, Eka Darville’s career has certainly progressed from the days of the Australian TV series Blue Water High. Eka currently appears as Malcolm Ducasse in Netflix’s smash hit Jessica Jones, which is based off the Marvel comic series.

    Recently, Darville visited the New York Film Academy Sydney campus to discuss with some of his fellow Aussies the finer points of a career in the United States. Topics such as the difference between a manager and an agent were explored, as well as the importance of securing a good publicist (and what they actually do).

    Having worked with some of Hollywood’s heavyweights, such as Krysten Ritter, Rachel Taylor, Carrie-Anne Moss, Stephen Lang and Terrance Howard, perhaps the most important insight that Darville shared was the work ethic required to “make it.”

    A number of questions about working on shows such as Vampire Diaries, Steven Speilberg’s Terra Nova, Spartacus and Power Rangers were also answered, allowing students insight into their favorite TV shows.

    At the end of the session, Darville was kind enough to take some photos with the Q&A guests. The New York Film Academy would like to thank him for his generous donation of time.

    January 25, 2016 • Acting, Entertainment Australia, Guest Speakers • Views: 936