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  • NYFA Alumni Team up for Short Film “Felices Acá En New York”

    While many young artists flock to New York City from all around the world, few realize just how difficult it can be to break into the competitive world of  “show business.” This personal and relatable struggle was the inspiration behind director Rodrigo Baumgartner Ayres’ film “Felices Acá En New York” (“Happy Here in New York”), which stars NYFA alumna Caroline Rosalino. Both Ayres and Rosalino met during their studies at the New York Film Academy and collaborated on the project soon after.

    caroline and rodrigoThe film has been well received, having screened at eight film festivals and having been recognized with a “Best Actress Award Nomination” at the Queens World Film Festival. The film won a “Best Audience Award” at Indie Works and a “Best Actress Platinum” at NYC Indie Fest.

    NYFA caught up with the two alumni to discuss more about the film and their blossoming careers since graduating.

    Congrats on the success of your film! Can you tell us where you’re from, and what brought you to NYFA?

    CR: I’m from Brazil, but I also lived in Argentina for five years where I did my BFA in Acting, as well as working in their “off-Broadway theater circle.” I came to the US for the first time for a three month work intership, and I walked past NYFA the very first day I was in New York City. I even have a picture of myself in front of NYFA saying, “Mom, I don’t think I am coming back,” and the funny thing is, it became true. I started researching about NYFA and I found it was exactly what I was missing in my work — since at that point my focus was mainly theatre and soap opera acting.

    RA: I am from Porto Alegre, Brazil. I decided to come to NYFA during my last year of adversing & marketing school in Brazil. I wasn’t excited about pursuing that career, I felt there was somehitng missing and it was one of my instructors Anny Baggiotto who had attended NYFA a few years earlier the recommended the school to me.

    Caroline, can you tell us how you met Rodrigo?

    CR: While at NYFA, I saw him working everyday at our computer lab, but we never had the opportunty to work together during school time. During my OPT time after NYFA, I invited Rodrigo to direct this film and luckily he dedicated himself entirely to the project.

    Rodrigo, in your own words, can you tell us what this film is about?

    RA: It’s about me, and Caroline’s, and a whole bunch of other foreigner artists’ lives. People who come to NYC with a dream to make it in show business, but soon realize that life here is harder than it looks. It’s about the idealized image that people in our home countries have of us because of the fact that we are living in New York City, supposedly the city of dreams. They don’t know what it means to be a foreigner in this country: working day jobs, struggling with money, having a constant fear of failure, which will culminate into us having no other option besides going back to our home countries with a feeling of defeat. It’s also about friendship. Sol’s character is sacrificing a long lasting friendship with Vicky in order to fulfill her dreams. And these ‘breaking apart’ situations happen no matter how hard you try to keep in touch with friends and family because your life in NYC is very intense; you can’t take a breath between working day jobs and pursing your career as an artist.

    How did this film come about?

    RA: This film was a nine day pre-production process: one day of shooting and over six months of editing, which I did myself. Caroline sent me a story written by Alejandro Escaño, a writer and theatre performer from Argentina, and she told me she wanted me to DP it. She thought I had a camera and equipment, which I didn’t, and she had another director lined up for the shoot. I told her I didn’t have a camera, but I might be able to put the production together. Apparently, the other director wasn’t showing much interest, so I took over and brought my friend Daniel Rey Lozano to DP and operate the camera, borrowed sound equipment from an indie company called ‘Gradient Films’, whom I worked with before, and Caroline called Andrei Costanzi Posse to operate the sound, a Brazilian actor who lives in NYC, which I had also previously met in another project.

    We were only five people on set and shooting guerrilla style. Months later, in the later stages of editing, I brought in my cousin from Brazil, Saulo Baumgartner Mosna, to compose the music for us.

    The biggest challenge was adapting the story that was sent to us by Alejandro, which was a great story with a lot of heart, but also not written in a standard script format. It was a story written in Word, which required a lot of changes if we wanted to have any hopes of executing it as a film. The original story involved a higher budget, at least three or four days of shooting, and more time of pre-production. So with nine days until the shooting date, Caroline and I were re-writing the story and adapting it into our ‘one day’ schedule.

    One day of shooting seems like a lot to handle. Can you tell me how you were able to pull off a one day shoot?

    RA: We got a crew of reliable people who are in it for the art rather than money, and that’s why we were able to shoot for some 16 hours. It was definitely exhausting, but when you have people like that, you know are going to see it through to the end. When Carolyn and I were writing the script I was careful with how I was shaping the scenes. Like I said, the original story was quite different — more places, different style — so I tried to make it logistically viable, so that we could travel quickly between locations.

    What did you see in Caroline that made her a perfect fit for the role of Sol?

    RA: Caroline is a great actress, seasoned, reliable and she really fit the role, because just like her character Sol, Caroline is also an immigrant who is struggling to make a living here in NYC. Except maybe for the ‘killing’ visions and day dreaming, Sol and Caroline are quite similar. But the fact was that Caroline reached me with the story first. Knowing her for her professionalism and talent, I had no doubts that we could make this project work.

    Caroline, can you tell us a little bit about Sol and who she is as a character?

    CR: Sol is a struggling actress that has been living in NY for three years. She wants to sustain the image of a successful life, but deep down she is not completely proud of all her choices. The truth comes to surface when her best friend from Argentina comes to visit her.

    Would you two say your NYFA experience was useful in terms of being prepared for this film?

    CR: I was truly blessed to have a great group at NYFA. From my colleagues that had so much potential — not even mentioning the unforgettable time we had together — but also our teachers were excellent and always open to work as well. NYFA prepared me not only to shift my theatre acting experience into film format and understand the professional filmmaking process, but essentially to understand acting as a business and how the film industry works in the US.

    RA: NYFA played an absolutely fundamental role in my career as a filmmaker. I had no previous background in film before — coming from advertising and marketing — so everything I learned was at NYFA. I did the One-Year Filmmaking Conservatory, which was very intense and an incredible learning experience. Kudos to my directing instructor Paul Warner; he was my main source of inspiration and I follow his teachings blindingly. I definitely learned a lot from him. NYFA cultivated my passion for the art and set me on track for a career that I can no longer live without. NYFA’s program is complete. I graduated the school feeling confident about my talent and what I could accomplish in the future.

    Tell us what’s next for the two of you.

    CR: I have a few jobs lined up. I might be traveling around the country for that. One of them is a virtual reality film. I can’t wait for the experience of shooting in 360. And for certain the feature of “Felices Acá en New York.”

    RA: I am shooting two new short films in May – June, 2017. One is a comedy that pays tribute to NYC as a romantic and also productive environment. The other one is a drama about loss and grief that criticizes America’s support program to veterans of war. Besides that, I also work as 1st Assistant Director, so I am involved in a sci-fi short film to be shot in September, 2017. I am also constantly writing. I have six scripts in the works that are dialogue pieces primarily made for the stage and that I also intend to turn into films.

    May 4, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2158

  • Student Veterans Organization Hosts Open Mic Night at Local VFW

    veterans open mic

    NYFA Veterans who showcased their talents gather together after the event”

    On Friday, April 21, the Student Veterans Organization (SVO) of the New York Film Academy hosted an Open Mic night at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Ship 8103 in Burbank, CA. The Open Mic night provided an excellent opportunity for veterans to more deeply develop camaraderie and fellowship.

    The VFW eagerly supported the NYFA SVO event, which brought many younger Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to the VFW. The NYFA SVO President Vincent Cugno, who is a BFA Acting student at the College, hosted the evening and brought together current fellow NYFA veteran students, and alumni, who wanted to showcase their talents. Gino Filiponi, NYFA Acting for Film student, stated “It was great to share some laughs with fellow veterans.”

    Seasoned comic Travis Frazee—who has showcased at local comedy clubs—was the headliner for the evening. Frazee, currently a student in NYFA’s BFA Program, has performed routines at venues including the “Ha Ha Comedy Club,” “Flappers,” and “The Comedy Store.”

    This was the first of many events that the NYFA Student Veteran Organization will be organizing. Other activities include community service engagement, BBQ’s, sports nights, and more that are all designed to bring veteran students together.

    April 28, 2017 • Acting, Veterans • Views: 2794

  • NYFA LA Welcomes Talent Manager Carol Brodie

    carol bodieThe New York Film Academy was thrilled to have Talent Manager Carol Bodie speak with the Acting for Film Department in Los Angeles this past week. Tova Laiter, Director of the Guest Speakers Series, hosted the evening along side NYFA Instructor Anne Moore.

    Bodie is responsible for helping guide the careers of many Hollywood elites including Jon Hamm, Jada Pinkett Smith, Joel Edgerton, Jim Sturgess, David Oyelowo, Kim Cattrall, Winona Ryder, Hailee Steinfeld, Rosie Perez, Calista Flockhart, and many others. Bodie has also produced “Girl Interrupted” and is working with many of Hollywood’s rising stars including Ruby Rose.

    Bodie kicked off the Q and A by welcoming all of her “future clients.” Bodie started her career when she moved to LA in her early twenties. She hadn’t expected to get in the entertainment industry, but all of her acting friends encouraged her to get work at an agency. When she finally found an agent she wanted to work with she realized she didn’t know what she was doing. “I literally answered the phone, ‘Hello.”

    Despite being told assistants do not get promoted it didn’t take long for Bodie to rise through the ranks. “I literally worked harder than anyone else,” she said. “I would get there at seven in the morning. Then I’d work all day. Stephen (her boss) would leave for a screening or event. He’d come back after and leave post-it notes all over my desk. So, I was working Saturdays and Sundays.”

    Bodie at NYFA LABodie had a lot of advice for her students. One insider tip is to find moments to surprise the casting director. “You have to remember Casting Directors are people too. We have bad days. We get bored.” Bodie suggests that if you’re given two scenes to read, read the second piece first. You’ll instantly have the director’s attention.

    “For actors the only thing to do is act. Do a play even if it is a small production,” Bodie suggests. “It’s all about relationships. Become friends with assistants and managers.” This way you’ll be the first to hear about all of the auditions.

    “Get out of your own head,” Bodie told the students. “Make it about the other person. By focusing on other people it relaxes you. Go to IMDb and look at what they’ve cast. They’re a person, too. They’ll want to tell you about their experience.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ms. Bodie for taking the time to speak with our students.

    April 21, 2017 • Acting • Views: 2372

  • Acting for Film Alumnus Torsten Colijn Nominated for Best Ensemble Cast

    torstenThe 2017 FirstGlance Film Festival Los Angeles has announced its official nominations for the 17th edition, which will take place April 20-23.

    Torsten Colijn, an Acting for Film alumnus from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles, has been nominated as part of the ‘Best Ensemble Cast (short)’ for his role in his first US film production “Leben – Life,” a coming of age story about passion for life, exploration, and self acceptance.

    “I truly did not see this one coming,” said Colijn. “This is really awesome, and such a big compliment to the whole international cast. Claudia Claase, Anastasiya Kuptsevych, Musa Lutfi Trevathan, we all did our best to make this story come to life. With great co-directing by Chessa Mehlman and Ian Sumner.”

    The film addresses the struggles that LGBT youth face while showing strength, beauty, and happiness as two women find each other during their travels through Europe. Colijn plays a waiter, whom one of the women comes across on her journey.

    For Torsten it’s his first USA nomination, although he’s acted in over 60 European film, TV and theatre projects.

    “My training at NYFA taught me about the business of film in America, which is totally different than the Dutch film scene,” said Colijn.

    Earlier this year Torsten attended the Canada Independent Film Festival, in Montreal, on behalf of the producer of the Belgian drama film “Rose,” in which Torsten stars as the emphatic doctor, Zachee, who is determined to save the life of a young girl named Rose. With 12 awards worldwide and 43 nominations so far, “Rose” had its Canadian premiere in Montreal as the film had the honor of kicking of the film festival.

    Colijn is represented by Eric Stevens from Rainbow High Entertainment.

    April 18, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2377

  • Actor Dolph Lundgren Screens “Rocky IV” at NYFA LA

    Star of “Rocky IV” and “The Expendables,” Dolph Lundgren, visited the Los Angeles campus of New York Film Academy this past week. Students from all majors filled the number twelve theater on the Warner Brothers lot. NYFA LA Admissions Director, Chris Devane hosted the evening.

    dolph lundgren

    Lundgren is well known for his roles as a karate-kicking villain in the James Bond film “A View to Kill” and He-Man in “Masters of the Universe.” Recently he’s been venturing into television. He hosted his own series “Race to the Scene.” He’s played himself in the Nickelodeon animated series “Sanjay and Craig,” and government strongman, Konstantin Kovar, in the CW’s “Arrow.”

    Devane asked a question from a student at the NYFA Australia campus. The student, Andy, asked, “What was your greatest challenge working as an actor?”

    Lundgren responded, “My greatest challenge is you want to make it fresh for yourself all the time. You have to find something fresh in the material for you to be excited about the role. I always have a secret about the character. I don’t tell anyone, not even the director. It takes something to make you excited to come to set every day.”

    One of the instructors in attendance, Aviv Rubenstein, asked, “Upon viewing this movie (“Rocky IV”) as an adult, it seems like Drago is more of a reluctant soldier. You don’t say, ‘I will break you.’ You say, ‘I must break you.’ How much of that is in the script, how much of that is in your performance, and how much of that is in the directing?”

    “You’re completely correct. Some of it was in Stallone’s script. Drago is the Frankenstein myth created by the system. Dr. Frankenstein is the bad guy and the monster is just the creation. That’s why I think this character resonates,” Lundgren said.

    lundgren at nyfa

    Lundgren also credited his dialect coach who not only helped him perfect his Russian accent but also was a Meisner trained actor. He helped Lundgren play the second level since Drago was so stoic they would have him behave embarrassed at certain lines, and these behaviors were not in the script.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Lundgren for taking the time to speak with our students. You can catch Dolph Lundgren in his upcoming films, “Nordic Light,” “Black Water,” and “Dead Trigger.” Lundgren has also recently joined Warner Bros. “Aquaman” film opposite Jason Momoa, which will be shooting at Village Roadshow Studios — where NYFA Australia Gold Coast students have the opportunity to film.

    April 13, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2392

  • NYFA Teams up with SAG for “Make a Film a Day Workshop”

    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus recently teamed up with the Screen Actor’s Guild of America for a one day “Make a Film a Day Workshop” with the Actor’s Fund.

    actors fund at nyfa

    The Actors Fund is a 501© non-for-profit that supports young working actors. The idea is to socialize them beyond acting so they can be well-rounded young people outside of their profession.

    Within the Actor’s Fund is a program called Looking Ahead. The aim is to take students to colleges all over Los Angeles and New York City. When Mason Richards, Chair of Community Outreach, heard they were coming he decided to team up with Lynda Goodfriend, Chair of the Acting for Film Department and the Admissions Department, to do a little something extra for the students when they came to the New York Film Academy.

    actors fund at nyfa la

    The students spent the day learning crew roles, how to operate a camera, and how to work as a team. Acting for Film Instructor Christopher Cass led the class. Kelly Gardner, Dean of Students, spoke with the kids about finding your own personal message through storytelling. At the end of the day, we were able to view their work.

    Richards was excited about the engagement saying, “All of them were students who are working actors, but they were all interested in being on the crew. We have students who, after participating in the workshop, were signing up for school.”

    April 12, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 2262

  • Actress Maria Conchita Alonso Screens “The Running Man” at NYFA LA

    Maria Conchita Alonso, the Venezuelan actress with over one hundred credits to her name, brought her cult classic film “The Running Man,” co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the Los Angeles Acting for Film and Filmmaking students. Industry Q and A Director, Tova Laiter, hosted the evening.

    maria conchita alonso

    Conchita Alonso is both a very popular Latin singer and international actress. Her work on the screen includes “The House of the Spirits,” “Predator 2,” “Chicago Hope,” “Extreme Prejudice” and “Saints & Sinners.” Not content with just images, Conchita Alonso has also written lyrics and performed the vocal for a song in “Scarface.”

    She’s been honored with the Outstanding Actress in Made-for Television Movie or Mini-Series, the Pioneer Award at La Femme International Film Festival, Outstanding Performer of the Year at Nostros Golden Eagle Awards, and a Grammy nomination.

    Conchita Alonso walked onto the stage with her dog Tequila and the audience fawned appropriately. She had a lot of advice for the students. One particular piece that stands out is, “Don’t ever compare yourself with others. Just work on who you are!”

    maria conchita alonso nyfa

    At the beginning of her career she was told she could not sing, dance, act, and host. She should pick one and perfect it. By dividing her time she was weakening her shot. So, when she wanted to record Vamos A Bailar for “Scarface,” her agent suggested they submit her tape under a different name, so executives could hear her performance instead of seeing her name. It worked, of course, and an important lesson was learned: put your work forward, not your attitude. “Know you’re good, but don’t show it.”

    Vamos A Bailar eventually went to number one on the charts.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Maria Conchita Alonso for taking the time to speak with our students. You can catch Conchita Alonso in “Off the Menu,” “He Matado a Mi Marido,” and “Kill ‘Em All” out later this year.

    April 7, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2880

  • Award-Winning Actor Matthew Modine Holds Master Class for Acting for Film Students at NYFA NYC

    With news of a Peabody Award nomination for the Netflix hit series, “Stranger Things,” it couldn’t have been a better time to have New York Film Academy’s long-time friend and board member, Matthew Modine, come in to hold an intimate master class for New York’s Acting for Film students.

    matthew modine

    Modine made his feature film debut in John Sayles’ “Baby it’s You” (1983), soon becoming one of Hollywood’s hottest young actors with his contributions to three Vietnam War-era films. The first was Robert Altman’s “Streamers” (1983), in which he played a soldier preparing for decampment to battle, followed by a starring turn as the mentally unstable titular character of Alan Parker’s “Birdy” (1984). In perhaps the most recognizable role of his career, he narrated the horrors of war as the independent-minded Private Joker in Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket.”

    “Being invited to work with Stanley Kubrick certainly altered my life,” said Modine. I can’t relate him to any other director because I was there for two years. That just doesn’t happen anymore. The experience with Stanley wasn’t just a friendship. It was a mentorship, a job. It became something that was much more profound. It changed the way I think about art.”

    “He was such an analytical person,” Modine continued. “He was a chess player. There’s different ways of playing the game but the goal is to win. He was a great manipulator. His creative process was the thing that I don’t know if anyone knows the answer to.”

    Most recently, Modine won the SAG Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series award for the role of Dr. Martin Brenner in the Netflix original series “Stranger Things,” and appears in the “Sicario” sequel “Soldado,” the thriller “47 Meters Down,” and the British comedy of manners “The Hippopotamus,” directed by NYFA alumnus John Jencks.

    The award-winning actor began the evening by introducing each and every student in attendance at the theater. After calling out close to 70 students, Modine stressed the importance of understanding who a person is and where they come from. After all, we all come from different backgrounds and experiences and that’s what makes up for who we are. Recalling the classic Harper Lee book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Modine said, “You never really understand a person until you get into their skin and move around in it.

    Throughout the evening, Modine broke down powerful scenes from his films, including “Full Metal Jacket,” “Birdy,” “And the Band Played On,” “Married to the Mob,” and more. He was extremely personable and loose with the students, providing moments of laughter and sincerity. 

    Admittedly a very liberal person, Modine says — no matter where you stand politically or spiritually —that actors should understand and appreciate the enormity of the fact that, “What we do is very important. We tell stories that change people’s lives.” 

    April 6, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2577

  • Aspiring Broadcast Journalists Learn the Ropes with Colonel Jack Jacobs at MSNBC/NBC Studios

    Veterans and Active Duty military students from New York Film Academy and local New York City community colleges were hosted by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of NYFA Veteran Advancement Program, at the famed 30 Rock Studios in New York City to explore career paths in television news and media outlets with a guided tour of one of the most watched news outlets in the United States — MSNBC/NBC. Colonel Jacobs is one of this nation’s most highly decorated service members; his valor in the Vietnam War led to his being a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Colonel Jacobs is currently the on-air military analyst at MSNBC/NBC.

    broadcast journalism

    NYFA students tour MSNBC/NBC studios

    Led through the historic hallways of NBC studios, students interested in careers in television were introduced to the fast-paced world of 24-hour news production by Colonel Jacobs, who offered insights to the next generation of aspiring television producers about the ins-and-outs of a dynamic and evolving business.

    Attendees received a behind the scenes look at the various newsrooms and studio sets for such iconic television shows as the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Morning Joe,” “AM Joy, and” “The Rachel Maddow Show”. The visit included a glimpse of the famed “Saturday Night Live” studios.

    “Now is the best time to be involved in television, in media in general,” lauded the Colonel. “Content is king. There are an increasing number of distributors out there; Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and they all need content!”

    His words did not fall on deaf ears as the veteran students in attendance were eager to learn as much as they could about careers in television—embracing previously unexplored opportunities that match the skills they honed at the New York Film Academy.

    “When you dream about working in film and television and you have no idea what the first step is–sometimes all you need is just to be in the same room with the people that do it, to see it with your own eyes. This makes that dream tangible, something real that you can touch, something that you can reach out and grab. It makes it obtainable,” remarked André Morissette, NYFA BFA Acting for Film student and veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

    April 6, 2017 • Acting, Veterans • Views: 2029

  • NYFA Alumna Wins Best Supporting Actress Award and More

    tasteDanielle Kronenberg is a British actress who currently lives in Los Angeles. She started her training at a very young age at a prestigious full time children’s drama school in London and made her West End debut at nine — the same year she won an award at the London Film Festival. She then went on to star in a number of commercials for the UK and the US.

    Since living in the US, and graduating from the Acting for Film program at the New York Film Academy, Kronenberg has starred in many independent films and a children’s web-series, which she produced. She’s also co-created and produced two of her own films, one of which, “Canvas,” won two awards for producing and the other, “Taste,” won three producing awards and two best supporting actress awards thus far.

    “I think going to NYFA was one of the best years of my training,” said Kronenberg. “I got to study with some great teachers, and I’ve stayed in touch with them too. Also, being part of the NYFA networking circle is pretty incredible. I can now call upon friends and say ‘Hey, I have an idea, let’s shoot something,’ and I know I’ll have a whole team to shoot with. A truly priceless experience.”

    “Taste,” which awarded her a Best Supporting Actress Award, is about a bulimic model who moves to NY to pursue her modeling career, but the secret that she’s harboring comes to the surface and cannot be contained once she meets Evan, a manipulative, successful fashion photographer who has a habit of controlling her muses.

    The writer of the film, Jay Palmieri Jr., who’s also a NYFA graduate, approached Kronenberg after starring in his film. “He said he wanted to collaborate on an LGBT film together as we’re both in that world,” recalls Kronenberg. “So we came up with a story and decided to produce it together. Jay wrote the role of ‘Evan’ for me, as he said he wanted to see me play a very dark emotional character. I’m so glad he did as it was my most challenging role. I’m not like Evan at all, so to play her was a lot of fun. I think the most challenging part was to really get into the head of Evan, and to start thinking like her. She’s totally dark and twisted. I found myself staying in character for most of the shoot, which was also fun.”

    kronenberg

    Kronenberg plays Evan, a fashion photographer in NY who has very manipulative ways. “Evan is the type of woman who doesn’t take no for an answer,” says Kronenberg. “She’s highly successful and has many models falling at her feet in the hopes of getting a big shoot.”

    “Taste” is currently in 15 festivals and counting. It’s streaming on digitalboxoffice.tv — where you can rate the film as well (5 popcorns all the way).

    Kronenberg is now working on two LGBT films and a romantic drama, each of which she will be producing and starring.

    April 4, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2223