Two-time champion of the Russian National Hip-Hop Dancing Championship among junior teams, Oksana Kuzychenko, has always wanted to dedicate her life to the preforming and visual arts. In her early childhood she took dancing and singing classes and lately she discovered her new passion for photography. Last summer Oksana spent 4 weeks in Los Angeles learning Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy High School Camp.
Recently, we spoke with Oksana to catch up on her life after NYFA summer camp.
Can you please share with us what you’ve been up to since graduating from our summer program?
Currently, I’m finishing my senior year of high school, teaching stretching classes, and dancing. Last December our team won junior league in the Cheer-Hip-Hop Competition at the International Forum of Contemporary Dance and Cheersport. At the same competition, my sister and I took second place among junior duos.
Also, in May, our team finished fifth at the 13th World Dance Olympiad in the “Teams Show” category among adults. For us it is a great achievement, because we moved into the adult league only last year and had to compete against teams who have danced in the adult league for more than 3-5 years.
Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of your dancing performances?
It helped me to become less shy and fearless. Now, when I perform on stage, I feel more confident. Also, when I teach stretching I use breathing exercises, which we practiced in my NYFA Voice & Movement class.
In addition, I learned at NYFA how to make short videos and now I often film different school events.
What was most memorable about your time at NYFA?
Acting in short student films on the Universal Studios backlot. Never in my life have I been so close to the real world of cinema.
Did you have any favorite instructors?
Andrew Bloch! He is very kind, cheerful and thoughtful. He cared about every single student and constantly encouraged us. My English wasn’t very good at that time and Andrew Bloch treated me with understanding and support.
In the future, do you plan on building a professional career in dancing or is it something you consider more of a hobby?
Since childhood, my dream was to become an actress—act in the theatre and movies. And of course, as an actress, it is a huge plus to be flexible and rhythmic. But if my acting dream does not come true, I will open my own dance school and will raise new champions!
This Monday afternoon, May 23rd, at the New York City campus of the New York Film Academy, Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby hosted a special Guest Speaker Series with long-time actor, Bruce Altman.
Altman has had a successful career in acting for film, theatre, and television. Beginning his career on the stage, the Bronx native acted in such off-off-Broadway shows as The Brick and the Rose, Liverpool Fantasy, Romeo and Juliet and The Sea Gull in the early 80s. From there, Altman moved on to numerous films such as Glengarry Glen Ross, Rookie of the Year, Matchstick Men, and many others. His TV credits are just as vast, including The Sopranos, Suits, Damages, and numerous others. He is currently appearing in the television series Mr. Robot and Odd Mom Out.
Despite having over ninety major credits to his name, Altman says that each time he lands a role is like a miracle. Even for an actor who has established himself in his field, the business never gets any easier.
“Life is hard,” said Altman. “And we’re not all giving up. That’s not a choice.”
Altman recommends actors try to curve their anxieties and nerves into a more positive direction. It’s all energy; it’s just a matter of how you’re able to channel it.
When asked what not to do, or how an actor could potentially back themselves into an unwanted position, Altman, says, “Never think you know what someone else is thinking.” The truth is: one can never really know what another person is thinking, so don’t act as if you know what the casting director or director is thinking. Be confident, but not over confident.
Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby with Bruce Altman
While he admits he’s not one hundred percent sure what the drive is behind his long-sustaining career, Altman does appreciate and value the experiences acting as a profession has brought to his life.
His love for the craft shined in his anecdotes and advice throughout the evening.
Ending on a particularly powerful note, Altman said, “Characters are dead souls; and when you play them, they come alive.”
Already with an extensive list of noteworthy credits in producing, writing, directing and acting, 8-Week Filmmaking and 4-Week Acting for Film graduate Tanner Beard has recently released his newest feature, 6 Bullets to Hell, which Tanner stars in, co-wrote, co-directed and is Executive Producer of through his production company Silver Sail Entertainment. His film is a Grindhouse style Spaghetti Western shot and made to look like the classic European Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. 6 Bullets to Hell is loyal to its predecessors as it even stays true to the form of how these were filmed in the late 1960s, all the way down to the dubbing of the audio. In the film, Beard plays a bandit, Bobby Durango, who heads up a ruthless gang in the West.
Aside from Tanner paying homage to Sergio Leone, his company is actively producing projects including: a travel show, award-winning short films, award-winning documentaries, commercials, music videos, two seasons of a web-based television series and feature films such as the critically acclaimed Hellion starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. Established during the 2008 writers’ strike, the company set out to create professional media content, and exploded from there.
Outside of the company, Tanner has been the Executive Producer of three films under the iconic director Terrance Malick and producer Sarah Green, starring some of Hollywood’s most well-known actors like Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman. The third of which is a documentary, Voyage of Time, executive produced by Brad Pitt, who also narrates the film.
Tanner’s next two projects are an animated feature entitled Fridgeport, which he co-created with Paul Khoury and is producing alongside Liam Hemsworth and Ashley Greene. His latest passion project is a Christmas comedy Just Be Claus, which he co-wrote with director Tim Skousen and is producing with Jeff Kalligheri and Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite.
We caught up with the extremely busy actor / filmmaker following his recent trip to Cannes.
Congrats on all of your success thus far! Can you bring us back to your time at NYFA. What stood out for you the most?
I remember how incredible it was filming on the [Universal] backlot (and with actual film in the cameras). Even though that is obsolete these days it gave me a great appreciation for all the moving parts that go into each and every shot, each and every frame. I hope NYFA still has students shoot on film—it can train you for anything. I also did the 4-Week Acting for Film program immediately after. That was the first real “acting for film” study I had, as I came from theater studies in London.
Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of what you’re doing now: writing, acting, producing, directing, etc. ?
Absolutely. The requirements of the week-to-week assignments prep you well for the intense competition of the film/tv workforce. You have to stay creatively sharp to write, direct, and shot list your own projects, and the editing courses helped me immensely. It also shows you the importance of doing your best for someone else’s project because you would want them to work hard on yours. I’ve always loved that design of the 4 to 5 person teams.
How did your working relationship with Terrence Malick begin?
I produced a movie with Aaron Paul called Hellion and I met and worked with Sarah Green who has produced almost all of Mr. Malick’s films over the last couple of years. They had already been working on these projects I was involved in but there was still work to be done; and after we had seen Hellion through to the finish line, we continued to work together and she brought me in on the Malick films. And that’s another interesting thing about NYFA — I still work with three people who went there the same time I did.
You started your production company during the writer’s strike. Did you get any backlash for that or do you think that it actually helped jumpstart the company?
Well, during the strike, we were all out-of-work actors living on the same street. One other NYFA student—Phil Donohue and some other friends—just said, well, we own some cameras. People are talking about making these “series” and putting them on the “web.” It was the “Wild West” of web series and we just starting shooting on our street, really for something to do, or just to feel like we were working/acting. Once we started seeing what the results were, and we were also flying so far under the radar, no one was going to stop “a couple of kids with cameras.” It turned into something more lucrative than we thought and I never looked back with Silver Sail Entertainment which is now a company with credits I’m very proud of.
Indeed the company is something to be very proud of. Anything else you’d like to share, specifically about your most recent film, 6 Bullets to Hell?
I’d like to share something that’s new to us. Silver Sail has created a mobile app video game as the films advertisement. It’s an arcade or “duck hunt” style shoot ’em game based on the movie, with direct links to buy or rent the film. Kinda of an experiment competing in the indie world of the 2016 market!
We hope you get a chance to check out 6 Bullets to Hell, which also comes in a “Drive-in Style’ version with two Grindhouse trailers before the film begins.
MFA Producing graduate Robert Pallatina’s directorial feature debut, Fortune Cookie, co-produced by Sony and The Asylum, aired on the Fuse network this past weekend.
His film is a horror/thriller set in present day Los Angeles about eight friends who fall victim to an ancient curse after receiving mysterious black fortunes at an Old Chinese restaurant. The movie stars James Hong (Big Trouble In Little China), Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers) and Ryan Merriman (Final Destination 3).
James Hong in “Fortune Cookie”
Pallatina initially developed the script after being offered an already greenlit feature project from The Asylum, a production company that he frequently works with.
“My intensive studies [at NYFA] from conceptual scriptwriting to technical on-set production really helped prepare me for what I was getting myself into,” said Pallatina. “I researched Chinese folklore to intertwine real mythology into a modern day supernatural thriller and wanted to create a common threat for the characters, which was unpredictable and unstoppable.”
Thus far, 2016 has been very busy for Pallatina as he’s currently editing a number of features, developing scripts, as well as pitching himself to direct another film.
Fortune Cookie will continue to air on Fuse this upcoming Wednesday, May 18th and Thursday, May 19th.
Three years ago famous Brazilian actress Franciely Freduzeski, known from her work on O Clone, América,Zorra Total and Malhação for Globo TVas well as the Brazilian Version of Desperate Housewives for RedeTV and A Fazenda for Rede Record amongst many other credits in Film, Theatre and TV, came to Los Angeles to attend an 8-Week Acting for Film Workshop at the New York Film Academy. After that program she made a very brave decision to start a new career in the entertainment capital of the world.
In a friendly conversation with NYFA, Franciely Freduzeski shared some useful tips for newcomers to Hollywood based on her personal experience:
Learn English and take accent reduction classes! Know that language will stop you a lot. My English wasn’t good when I came here and because of that I was denied for some roles. Scene study and Monologue classes helped me a lot to improve my English. When you do scenes or monologues you are not only practicing language, you are also learning how to act in this language and how to add emotions to what you are saying.
Different country, different rules. Before jumping into the industry, study very hard, every day. Not just acting, but how Americans work here—learn about culture. There is a lot of competition here. Be prepared to miss family, friends and hear a lot of no’s.
Be sure you have the right headshots and know the general auditions rules. At the beginning I didn’t know what pictures I should submit for auditions, what the requirements were, or what the right headshot for different castings should be. Also, I never did cold readings before coming to Hollywood. We don’t have them in Brazil, so I wasn’t prepared for that. At NYFA we had special class where we practiced cold reading technique and it helped.
After all, it is Hollywood and, as they say, you have to be in the right place at the right time. So always be prepared. You never know when that “right moment” will come. In Brazil actors are usually notified about upcoming auditions at least a week in advance and are provided with lines. In Hollywood you might be called and asked to come for the audition 2 hours before the actual casting. Now I am always ready for that: I always have high heels in my bag and a makeup set, just in case.
Know that it won’t be easy. You have to really dedicate yourself. Sometimes you might feel lonely and desperate. To be honest there were moments when I was crying and wanted to give up, but, as Coco Chanel said, “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”
Franciely Freduzeski is very thankful for the great support of her son, her boyfriend and her family. With time she managed to find balance between living and working in both countries: Brazil and the United States. Her latest projects in Brazil were a television series called Mascara and a stage play, Exilados, where she played Bertha — a woman with a strong personality who comes to challenge the ideals defended by her husband.
There was a big shake-up at CBS News, with the network opting to run their digital news service—called CBSN—on the broadcast network on weekends, instead of producing a separate evening news program. It is typical of how major networks are adapting to a changing media landscape. CBSN is aimed squarely at younger viewers, individuals who relate better to their phones than to a TV set.
Over at NBC Sports, they have a new deal with Snapchat. The arrangement calls for Olympic highlights, based on NBC generated material, to be distributed on Snapchat. This is a play to attract millennial viewers who do not watch conventional television. Since NBC bought the American video rights to the Olympics, they can distribute that footage any way they like. We live in a cross-platform world, and a program that is confined to a single platform is likely to fail.
Not to be left behind, cable giant ESPN is the latest media company to make a deal with Vice. Vice World of Sports is a new series that will air on ESPN. Once again, it is the need to attract millennial viewers that is driving this collaboration. While ESPN has lots of sports programming already, it wants to attract new viewers through the bold first-person narrative style of program that Vice has perfected. (Current NYFA 1-year Broadcast Journalism students learn these techniques in our Personal Journalism course.)
In yet another related event, Twitter’s Periscope streaming video service has hired an editor-in-chief. At first, this sounds bizarre. But it makes sense when you realize that it is almost impossible to separate the really interesting video on Periscope from the so/so and the simply awful. This means Periscope is in line to be curated. Periscope is also allowing users to permanently save their feeds. However, they will need to add the hashtag #save to the stream’s title.
In “local news,” some of the NYFA 1-Year Broadcast Journalism students went out to cover the Holi Hai NYC Festival last week. This “festival of colors” is always popular, if only for the fact that it is the one day out of the year when you are encouraged to make an absolute mess of yourself, your friends, total strangers, inanimate objects and anything else you happen to encounter.
From the picture above, you can see that this story generated a high degree of “reporter involvement.” To see how the actual story turned out, follow this link. And don’t worry, they protected the camera…
Finally, the Broadcast Journalism program’s lead camera instructor, Trish Gillespie, was invited to pitch her latest documentary project at the prestigious Hot-Docs Film Festival in Toronto. Before the pitch for this non-fiction crime thriller, American Monster, the audience was told that Morgan Spurlock’s production company Warrior Poets had signed onto the project as a backer just two days prior, and would make the film into a multi-part doc series. Trish has worked long and hard on this, and will no doubt continue to do so in the months to come. (In fact, I think she was shooting in North Carolina this past weekend.) Congratulations, Trish!
The New York Film Academy enjoyed a special evening with Bryan Cranston, the star of Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle and, more recently, the movie Trumbo, a historical film about one of the most successful screenwriters of the 1950’s-70’s, Dalton Trumbo, who endured more than a decade of hardship (blacklisting and prison) for standing up to the American anti-communist movement that tried unsuccessfully to force him to name communist party members within the film industry.
The capacity crowd filled the 550-seat Ross Theater on the grounds of Warner Bros. Studios to watch the movie Trumbo, and afterward to listen to the life lessons of the veteran actor, hoping to gain some unique insight into the craft and its impact on their own lives and careers. Bryan did not disappoint.
Following the screening, Bryan Cranston entered the theater to a standing ovation, and was accompanied by producer Tova Laiter, who moderated the event. Cranston spoke of the journey to becoming an actor, specifically the commitment and perseverance that one must have in order to succeed. He also talked about the arbitrary deadline that many of us set, saying, ‘I’ll give it two years.” He disagreed with that sentiment, saying that “You’re either in or you’re out.” Using the poker reference, he said, “It means you’re all in.” He added later in the address that “not trying is failing.”
Regarding obtaining work, Cranston spoke at length about shifting the paradigm when walking into an audition (or any meeting for that matter). We should be thinking about how we can offer our talent to that project, and not be thinking about getting the job.
He counseled the audience, composed of students from all disciplines, “Don’t put yourself in a position of need. You’re there to give them something.” The same goes with not getting the role — believe that something better is going to come your way and you are lucky you didn’t get the other job (as happened to him throughout his career).
Cranston responded to questions from audience members, some of whom asked about the character Walter White from Breaking Bad. He said that his ability to visualize the character came from the quality of the writing, which he called brilliant. He answered another student question by saying that an actor’s home life should be clean and strong so they can then go out and put the variety and excitement into the roles they choose. He counseled the young actors to “put in the hours,” and show up to jobs on time and prepared.
New York Film Academy thanks Bryan Cranston for taking the time to share his wisdom and inspire our students. It was truly an unforgettable night.
On Thursday, April 28th, New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus proudly presented their inaugural Alumni Industry Showcase at NYFA Theater. This showcase represented the very best from the AFA, BFA and MFA programs who graduated from January 2015 through January 2016. The evening was filled with short live scenes, a short film, songs and improv.
“Our goal is to showcase our students to be competitive with all the top schools in the country. What sets NYFA apart is our focused Acting for Film training and international diversity,” said Anne Moore, director of the showcase and Associate Chair of Acting/Departmental Programming.
“This showcase is right on par with any other showcase we’ve seen this season. We found a lot of talent here,” said a rep from ABC casting.
Overall, the evening was a success with reps attending from ABC, NBC, and CBS casting as well as managers and agents from such agencies as UTA. Alumni have all ready been contacted from casting at CBS for meetings.
Winning poster from NYFA photography student, Hanna Cowart
In order to bring awareness to our campus, New York Film Academy dedicated this week, April 25 – April 29, to SexualAssaultPrevention. As part of the week, awareness flyers, stickers, and monitors were used to spread awareness on the subject. Photography student, Hanna Cowart, won our Sexual Assault Prevention Contest by creating the thought provoking poster seen above. An Honorable Mention to the contest was the 30-second “You Are Not Alone” video, created and acted in by NYFA students, which can be seen HERE.
Additionally, the Academy held two informative workshops on Self-Defense and Sexual Assault Awareness.
Self-Defense Workshop with Michael Acosta
First, NYFA welcomed Michael Acosta, a martial artist for over 20 years. Acosta provided students and faculty with a hands-on lecture and demonstration on how to properly and effectively defend yourself in a harmful situation. He began by introducing what is considered an uncomfortable or even dangerous situation. While it may vary from person to person, there is usually no mistaking the point in which someone is in serious danger. It’s in these moments that Acosta showed how to not only escape those situations, but to effectively defend one’s self through martial arts techniques.
“I believe that martial arts is useful as a tool to develop discipline, self-confidence, and commitment,” states Acosta. “I have seen it help kids and adults overcome their insecurities, improve focus, and achieve the goals they set for themselves.”
Students learn best through experience and muscle memory. The martial arts teaching focuses on mastering basic techniques by using people in group exercises and mentally preparing them for real world situations where they can be used for self-defense.
If you’re unsure of whether you’re in a potentially harmful situation, the chances are that your intuition is right. “If somebody is encroaching on your space, you need to say something,” says Acosta.
One piece of advice that stood out just from a general standpoint is the fact that we’re usually preoccupied with our own personal space—social media and smartphone interaction—that we sometimes forget about the world of interesting people around us. Acosta concluded, “the more you interact with people, the more comfortable you get.”
NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault Guest Speaker
From the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, NYFA welcomed Senior Campus Sexual Assualt Coordinator, Jeenie Yoon. The Alliance’s mission is to build the capacity of communities, organizations, and institutions to advance the right to live free from sexual violence and reduce the harm it causes individuals, families, and society. Ms. Yoon provided a power-point presentation and lecture highlighting what is considered sexual assault and how serious the issue can be. Using film and television series as examples—like Game of Thrones, Girls, Goldfinger, and others— Yoon was able to properly define when a man or woman crosses the line and becomes a sexual predator. The most alarming message is the fact that most victims are not speaking up.
Her talk, and the week in general, was specifically designed to make people aware of sexual assault and to realize that it is more common than we often think. So, if it is or has happened to you, we encourage you to speak up!
For more information on the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault, please visit their website at: www.svfreenyc.org
On Friday April 22, students and staff of the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) South Beach Campus provided the filming and photography in support of the 3rd Annual Golf Fundraising event, which raised nearly $60,000 in funding for local veteran service organizations.
The Charity Classic is an event organized by Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), in association with the mergers and acquisition and corporate community, to help raise awareness and funding to support veteran homelessness, veteran reintegration, and veterans and service members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury.
On the left corner of the check is Jim Duffy, ACG’s Founder. To the right is Colonel Jack Jacobs and Lt. Colonel Tony Colmenares. Surrounding are volunteers and staff of Project 22.
As a proud backer of the ACG Charity Classic this year, NYFA staff colleagues Richard Crites, Kyle Fritsche, and Gabriel Cacabelos, as well as NYFA students Samuel Romero, Florencia Portieri, Martina Marcet, and Eleni Nolas spent the day visually documenting the event, which will be used to further promote the Foundation’s future benevolent activities. The students who generously lent their time and talents for this important cause hailed from Argentina, Mexico, and Venezuela — representing the truly international nature of NYFA South Beach, and the College in general. NYFA’s Veteran Service Coordinator, Jhonson Simeon, led the team.
Additionally, Colonel Jack Jacobs, NYFA’s Chair of Veterans Advancement Program, and Medal of Honor recipient, was on hand to meet with the nearly 300 participants. The acclaimed film, stage, and television actor, Stephen Lang, who was in Miami for the NYFA premiere screening of his film Beyond Glory, also contributed to the day by welcoming the donors and being available for photographs. Mr. Lang is best known for his recent role in Avatar and Gods and Generals.
(from left to right) Mike Davis, Steve Katona, Stephen Lang, Steve Paoloni, Jim Griffin, and Colonel Tony Colmenares
This year’s recipient organization of the monies raised by the ACG Annual Fundraising Golf Classic is the “22 Project,” which is a registered 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to providing advanced medical treatment to rehabilitate service men and women in order to allow these deserving veterans an opportunity to function to the best of their ability in a peacetime environment. The 22 Project is named because on average 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
The New York Film Academy was delighted to be a part in this worthwhile endeavor, and the College thanks ACG and Project 22 for inviting us to participate.