• Meet & Greet with Alumnus Sanzhar Madiyev

    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus was honored to welcome new rising star, Sanzhar Madiyev.

    “Back in 2011-2012, I was a student at New York Film Academy and was happy to take part in Q&A’s with the invited speaking guests. Now, 4 years later, I am the invited guest. What an unforgettable feeling. I would like to thank everyone who came, supported and asked the right and interesting questions.”

    Sanzhar Madiyev

    Sanzhar had an interest in the arts since his early childhood. At school he took part in performances, composed songs, painted, and attended dancing classes, but after all of that he decided to get an education in Economics and Finance.

    Soon he realized that he should follow his heart, and entered the theatre department of the local Academy of Arts. After a few years of struggling, he was cast as the lead in the film The Other Side co-staring popular Russian actor Dmitry Djuzhev. His role in this movie helped launch his career.

    At the same time Sanzhar Madiyev kept studying filmmaking on his own. In 2010, he directed a Christmas show for the national TV channel in Kazakhstan and in May 2011, Kazakhfilm Studios sent him to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles to study filmmaking. In November 2011, he returned to NYFA to continue his education in acting. As a result of his hard work and dedication his career took off. Nowadays, Sanzhar Madiyev is one of the most sought after actors of Kazakhstan.

    His character looks absolutely incredible in the latest clip for the Russian superhero movie Guardians. This video blew up over the Internet and got about 2 million views over night.

    His latest movie, Amanat, directed by Satybaldy Narymbetov, where Sanzhar plays Kenesary Khan, has been sent for consideration from Kazakhstan for the Oscars in 2017. Amanat is a drama about repressed history professor Ermukhan Bekmakhanov, who was the first historian of Kazakhstan and Central Asia to receive the title of Doctor of Historical Sciences for the book “Kazakhstan in the 20-40 years of 19th Century.” It tells of the national liberation movement of Kazakhs led by Kenesary Khan.

    Moderated by NYFA Acting instructor Bruce Ducat, Madiyev spoke in depth about his career. The audience had many questions for him, including the following:

    Where did you find strength to quit stable work at the bank and go for your dream to become an actor and director?

    You have to believe in your dream and don’t doubt. It was really hard at the beginning. For a long time there was no work, just rare commercials. I spent almost 3 years without money but I knew for sure that I didn’t want to go back to finance. It’s also important to be among people with similar interests. The spirit of NYFA helped me a lot—do not give up. You see classmates with eyes full of passion and you know that you are not alone on this road.


    What would you say can help actors and directors achieve better understanding with each other?

    It’s important for actors to understand what the director’s job is about and vise versa. I was reading a lot of books of Stanislavsky, Michael Chekhov, Lee Strasberg and I’ve learned Meisner technique at New York Film Academy. Read as much as you can, read plays, read psychology and philosophy.

    Trust between actors and directors is also very important. Actors should understand that the director has the whole picture in his head when he is shooting a scene and let him lead.

    What is your dream role?

    I have a long list of roles I would like to play and names of directors I would like to work with. Perhaps the most interesting to me at the moment will be to play Attila, who was the leader of the Hunnic Empire, or a detective from the 19th century.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Madiyev for sharing his personal experiences along with useful advice.

    March 24, 2016 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1738

  • NYFA Australia Student Works on Set of “The Nest 3D”

    Barry Havenga

    Part of the benefits of attending the New York Film Academy Australia is its accessibility to the Village Roadshow Studios. Over the past few months, NYFA Australia Filmmaking student, Barry Havenga, had the opportunity to work on-set of The Nest 3D, which just so happened to be filming at Village Roadshow Studios. The young filmmaker will be working as a stand-in for actor Kellan Lutz, known for his roles in the Twilight series as well as many other film and television productions.

    It just so happens that Barry was initially scouted by a casting agent at a café near the school who thought he had a suitable look for the role. Either way, it was certainly a case of being in the right place at the right time!

    From a filmmakers’ perspective, Barry feels that he now has a better understanding of what actors go through and what they require from their directors, as he was able to observe different approaches from the directors on set. Having been prepared for on-set experience at NYFA, Barry felt familiar and confident with the everyday protocol. Not only that, the experience has further fueled Barry’s interest in acting.

    His first day on set involved feeding lines to Kelsey Grammer, who Barry admits is quite “awesome.” From this, Barry developed a working relationship with both Grammer and Lutz, mentioning a vision board night with Lutz and fellow actors as his most memorable experience.

    We wish Barry the best of luck in pursuing both his filmmaking and acting passions!

  • Advice from Channing Tatum’s Agent, Louise Ward

    A very full theatre of NYFA students in Los Angeles welcomed Talent Agent Louise Ward to speak to them this past week. Her clients include Channing Tatum and Oscar Isaac. Producer Tova Laiter and Chair of Acting Lynda Goodfriend moderated this event.

    louise ward

    Louise Ward spoke to NYFA students about her work as a talent agent, about starting out and skipping the usual first few steps to become an agent—becoming a manager rather than starting out in the mailroom and working her way up. At the time, being a manager was seen as being a “hand holder” for an actor.

    Now she works as a talent agent. She said she “doesn’t do favor meetings”—she likes to get recommendations from directors who have worked with an actor, or have seen the actor in a play or a film at a festival. She even likes to call up casting directors and ask about the person who came in second for the role. All the other agents are swarming on the person who got the role, Ward said.

    Louise Ward said that her job was to help actors and actresses to take their “aspirations and make them less lofty, more transactional…to give [their] career a trajectory.”

    louise ward nyfa

    A student asked Ward about her advice for international actors. Ward said that they should stick with their own accent for auditions, otherwise the casting agents would spend more time focusing on the accent, rather than the acting choices made. But this doesn’t mean that actors shouldn’t work on their accent, in general, allowing them to have more options. Ward also said that the western entertainment industry was finally looking a little more globally, slowly.

    Ward advised the students in the crowd to never stop working. “Even when you aren’t [acting], you should be working,” Ward said. “Work on accents, on cold reading, on forming relationships with people. Get your teeth cleaned.”

    “You need to know your superpower,” Ward told the students about going into the industry.

    March 21, 2016 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2152

  • 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.

    nyfa cohens

    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: 2719

  • 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.

    VAB Meeting

    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.

    wally colon

    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: 1192

  • 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.

    movement club

    “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: 1864

  • 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.”

    wemash sonny calderon

    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: 1455

  • 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: 1625

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

    ken lerner oj

    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, Faculty Highlights • Views: 1833

  • 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).

    modine nealon

    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.

    when red is white

    • 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: 1564