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  • NYFA Los Angeles Hosts 3-Week Workshop for NYFA Australian Acting Students

    australia acting students

    NYFA Australia acting students attending the Groundlings Comedy Improv show

    On Monday the 8th of June, four students from the New York Film Academy’s Gold Coast location, three students from NYFA Sydney, and acting instructor Hunter McMahon departed Australia and headed to the New York Film Academy campus in Los Angeles, California. The acting students participated in an intensive three week program which encompassed classes such as; Meisner technique, Voice and Movement, Combat, Comedy, Psychology of Performance, Audition technique and Production Workshops, which were shot on the backlot of Universal Studios.

    The students’ first week of training began on Tuesday the 9th of June with three classes a day, plus plenty of work to keep them busy outside of school hours. The first shoot on the Universal backlot took place on the “Western Set,” with scenes authored by the students. “It was a unique experience, and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said NYFA Sydney Acting Instructor, Hunter McMahon.

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    On Saturday afternoon, the acting students attended the Los Angeles Film Festival for a screening of Be Here Now: The Andy Whitfield Story. “It was one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. When the lights came up we were all visibly moved and glad that we had shared the experience together,” said McMahon.

    On Sunday the group took some time out with a large portion of the day spent lounging at the pool of the Oakwood Apartments and enjoying the famous Los Angeles sun—after all, it is currently wintertime back in Australia.

    During the second week, the intensity of the program increased as the teachers began to demand more of the students, and as we’re accustomed to at NYFA, the students picked up the challenge.

    Friday night saw the students shuttled from NYFA to attend The Groundlings Theatre Show. “The show was hilarious, the students had a ball, and some were even lucky enough to meet the performers afterwards and have their picture taken with them,” recalled McMahon.

    Over the course of the rest of the weekend, the students spent time shopping, and exploring Disneyland. Any spare time leftover, students worked on the course material for the final week.

    The last week was spent filming the scenes, monologues and learning as much as possible about the industry in Los Angeles. During the week, students were shuttled to The Matrix theatre to watch The Australian Theatre Company’s rehearsed play reading of Ruben Guthrie. “The show was fantastic and a great networking opportunity… the play has been recently been adapted into a feature film, which opened the Sydney Film Festival this year,” said McMahon.

    matrix theatre

    On the Friday night of their final week, the students’ work was showcased in the screening room of NYFA LA’s Riverside Building. “It was a fitting end to the three-week course and we were overawed by the experience,” said McMahon.

    Monday the 29th of June marked the conclusion of the three-week excursion.

    “From this experience, my Australian acting students have grown remarkably, and will certainly cherish these memories dearly. The teachers we’ve had have been fantastic, experienced and very knowledgeable. We have made industry connections that will benefit both parties in the years to come. I’m grateful that I have been able to share this experience with the students, and the NYFA staff in LA. I have learned so much in my time here, and I can’t wait to share it all upon my return to Sydney. This journey has been invaluable, and I would like to share my gratitude and warm thanks to the New York Film Academy, its teachers and the students who journeyed with me to Los Angeles,” concluded McMahon.

    As for the students who took part in this incredible three-week Los Angeles trip, this is what they had to say:

    “I have been deeply touched by the passion, dedication and immense desire every teacher has had to share their experience and, install in our hearts, deep respect for our craft and the industry. I am now more committed to the ingenuity, creativity, skill and professionalism that has gone before me.”

    Sharde Anne (Gold Coast Graduate)

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    NYFA Australian actors attend the Australian Theatre Company’s Evening of “Stage to Screen” at the Matrix Theatre in Hollywood

    “This has been an incredible experience. I’m so grateful I was given this opportunity to explore the LA industry that I one day intend to be a part of. We were taken to The Groundlings, which was phenomenal and hilarious. We were also taken to see the Australian Theatre Company’s reading of ‘Ruben Guthrie’ at the Matrix theatre. We filmed on the Universal backlot twice. I have learned and grown so much in the past three weeks. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it!”

    Tiahni Wilton (Gold Coast Graduate)

    “The wisdom and experience of the industry that was shared with us from the lecturers at NYFA was invaluable; and now I’m going home to Australia more confident with my craft. Thank you to all the lecturers from NYFA across Australia and LA. You all inspire me daily.”

    Krystal Shuttleworth (Gold Coast Graduate)

    “I look forward to the future in acting. I feel my passion gets stronger as I keep learning. It’s been an amazing experience!”

    Tareesha Argus (Gold Coast Graduate)

    “Coming to Los Angeles has been a fantastic and an uplifting experience for me. I’m eternally grateful for all that I have learned at my time at NYFA.”

    Abel Kollie (Sydney Graduate)

    “We have had incredible classes and teachers, who are all so passionate about the craft. I’ve learned so much about acting and the exciting business over here. The classes have been intense, and definitely worthwhile. Experiencing the American audition process and running it with a real agent was an invaluable experience. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.”

    Kiara Williams (Sydney Graduate)

    “The experience and knowledge I’ve gained from doing this program is without a doubt the best decision and opportunity that was given to me by NYFA. I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined about the LA market, auditioning and character work in the past 3 weeks. Though the days were long, I wouldn’t change any of it. The teachers were fantastic; they were so knowledgeable and passionate about the industry. I am eternally grateful to NYFA Sydney for this experience and can’t wait to start my career.”

    Ismael Nunez Moreno (Sydney Graduate)

  • Instructor Zack Stoff Works as Research Consultant to Benicio Del Toro

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    Perhaps one of the most notorious drug lords of our time, Pablo Escobar has been an appealing character often explored in film and television over the years. In writer/director Andrea Di Stefano’s recent film, Escobar: Paradise Lost, the filmmaker sets up a young couple who fall in love in Colombia and, after discovering the young woman’s uncle is Pablo Escobar, are faced with a dramatic, life-altering turn.

    One of our Editing Instructors in Los Angeles, Zack Stoff, was a research consultant to Oscar-winning actor Benicio Del Toro, who happened to play Escobar. “I became involved in research for Benicio through my editing background,” said New York Film Academy Instructor, Zack Stoff. “It gave me the ability to scan through and edit material from many different sources.”

    Also starring in the film is lead actor Josh Hutcherson, who Stoff worked with as Assistant Editor on Benicio’s directorial short film Seven Days in Havana. “This was their [Del Toro and Hutcherson] first time acting together and they have a great chemistry,” said Stoff. “Benicio’s portrayal of Escobar is really captivating.”

    Stoff offered some great advice to students looking to break into the industry as a research consultant or anything else for that matter. “Be ready to walk through whatever door opens for them. This business is run by need and opportunity. One person’s need is another person’s opportunity. Hold onto your skills and ambitions and know they will eventually pay off, but be patient and just do good work. Good things will happen if you prove yourself to be dependable.”

    Escobar: Paradise Lost is now playing in theaters.

    July 6, 2015 • Community Highlights, Digital Editing • Views: 776

  • #NYFASummer Photo Contest

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    With New York Film Academy Summer Camp Programs officially happening all around the world, we thought it was time again to see what you’re all up to. And what’s the best way to stay in touch with friends around the world? Social Media!

    All you have to do is tag your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter photos with #NYFASummer and we can see how much fun your learning experience is. Whether you’re in New York City, Los Angeles, Harvard, Florida, Europe or wherever, you’re all #NYFASummer students at heart!

    The best photos showing your support of #NYFASummer will be posted on NYFA’s Social Media platforms and awarded a leather NYFA bag, shirts and caps. You could be hanging out on campus, on set, or in a group selfie with your new NYFA friends! The more creative, the better! After all, we’re an art school.

    We will be sharing some of the contenders throughout the summer—from now until September 1st, 2015. The top winners will be announced soon after to receive their NYFA swag!

    Start snapping and tagging #NYFASummer!

    July 2, 2015 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Contests • Views: 2104

  • NYFA Documentary Instructor Supervising Editor on HBO’s ‘Larry Kramer’ Doc

    Larry KramerNew York Film Academy Documentary Master Class Instructor and Curriculum Adviser, Geof Bartz’s latest documentary, Larry Kramer: In Love and Anger, airs tonight on HBO!

    As Supervising Editor of HBO Documentary Films, Bartz says this film is “about one of the true heroes — and great characters — of the 20th Century.”

    Larry Kramer is an author, playwright and activist who gave voice to the outrage and grief that inspired a whole generation of gay men and lesbians to fight for their lives. As co-founder of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), Kramer’s activism forever changed the public health policy pertaining to AIDS.

    Directed by Jean Carlomusto, the documentary originally premiered at Sundance in January 2015, and will have its TV opening tonight on HBO at 9 pm EST. From there, Larry Kramer: In Love and Anger will be available at HBO ON DEMAND and HBO GO.

    We hope you have a chance to check it out!

    June 29, 2015 • Documentary Filmmaking • Views: 468

  • MFA Cinematographers Film Underwater


    Our MFA Cinematography students literally dive head first into the world of underwater filmmaking. Shot with a Canon 5D in Hyrdoflex housing, students were able to capture the cinematic magic below the surface of the water.

    The MFA program is an accelerated, four semester graduate program that is extremely hands-on. Those interested in becoming Directors of Photography in the professional world are immersed in this intensive course under the tutelage of professional cinematographers. This unique setting helps develop both the creative vision and technical proficiency necessary for a career as a cinematographer.

    Upon graduation, students will be proficient with many of the state-of-the-art camera systems that are used on today’s biggest sets, including 16mm, 35mm, HD and Red digital cinema cameras. In addition, students can expect to be able to confidently supervise the creation of sophisticated lighting schemes on set.

    For more information about the New York Film Academy’s MFA Cinematography Program, please visit https://www.nyfa.edu/mfa/cinematography.php

  • Director Mel Rodriguez and Actor Micah Hauptman Screen ‘In Stereo’

    Actor Micah Hauptman with Director Mel Rodriguez

    Actor Micah Hauptman with Director Mel Rodriguez at NYFA Union Square

    This past Monday, June 23rd, the New York Film Academy in Union Square played host to an early screening of the upcoming New York indie, In Stereo, which was directed by first time director Mel Rodriguez and stars Micah Hauptman. Both Rodriguez and Hauptman joined us after the screening for an intimate conversation with NYFA Instructor Randall Dottin about the production of their film, as well as their triumphs and struggles in this competitive industry.

    The film initially started out as a short film, which writer / director Rodriguez said, “came out of frustration and necessity.” It was at a festival screening in Austin where producers were hooked and made the feature version of his short a reality.

    Shot entirely in New York City, the entire feature was filmed over only fifteen days! In addition to our gracious guest, Micah Hauptman, In Stereo stars Beau Garrett, Aimee Mullins, Mario Cantone, Maggie Geha, and Melissa Bolona. The story surrounds David (Micah Hauptman) and Brenda (Beau Garrett), who are perfect for each other, and everyone knows it…except David and Brenda. After their painful break-up, they each endure an individual purgatory (for David, a self-destructive artistic endeavor, and a relationship with an immature beauty who has taken to sleeping with his best friend – for Brenda, a failing acting career, an eviction notice, and a boyfriend who just doesn’t do it for her for Brenda) until chance brings them together on the streets of New York at the worst possible time. David invites Brenda to the opening of his first photography exhibit and it sets the stage for a night of drinking, flirting and truth-telling, leading to an untraditional and risky proposal of how they can be together… without getting back together.

    in stereo

    A sharply observed, un-romantic comedy by writer/director/editor Mel Rodriguez, In Stereo is a stylish and striking first feature. With an innovative structure and bold performances, it offers an unflinching look at the complexity of modern relationships.

    Both Rodriguez and Hauptman humbly recalled their roots in the industry, Hauptman admitting he’d been working as an actor for twelve years until he really considered himself having a career. In fact, it was a student film that really propelled his career to the next level. “Always be focusing on the work,” he advised.

    As for Rodriguez, his directing career really blossomed from his work as an editor, in which he says, “Editing is film school. Editors tend to make the best directors.” While he had established himself as a premier editor in film and television, his true passion was to be a director. With the upcoming release of In Stereo, Rodriguez has made that dream a reality. Now, he intends to move further into larger projects — an action, thriller set on the Mexican border is what he hopes to shoot next.

    In the meantime, be sure to check out this very realistic New York City relationship film, which opens in theaters starting July 3rd, 2015!

    June 24, 2015 • Acting, Digital Editing, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1039

  • Matthew Jennison on Starting His Screenwriting Career from a ‘Wonder Woman’ Spec

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    Matthew Jennison

    This past semester, screenwriter Matthew Jennison visited with our Business of Screenwriting students to regale his improbable story about how he literally sold his first project to Warner Bros.—without any representation whatsoever—before going on to become a rising film and TV writer.

    Jennison, who is six-foot-six, had at first considered being an actor when he originally moved to Los Angeles from Albuquerque. He recalled, “They told me I was too tall, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.” Jennison always loved storytelling, and soon he discovered that he wanted to explore different sides, including the writing side. So, he partnered up with actor/writer Brent Strickland, who he met in an acting class. They read some scripts and a few books, and they started writing projects together.

    The problem was they had no representation and didn’t really know how to get people to read them. They wanted to write something that would garner them some attention, maybe even based off something people knew… “Wonder Woman seemed like the perfect property and character to write a spec script about. Many people had tried to crack a Wonder Woman movie, but it had lingered in development, and it’d been a very long time since the TV series. She was powerful and alluring. We thought we’d give it a shot…”

    They figured if done right, it was a good way to get noticed, a good sample, by building a story around a character people knew. So they wrote their ‘Wonder Woman’ script, an ambitious take set against the backdrop of WWII. “At the time, doing a period comic book was a pretty novel idea and was one we were really excited by.”

    When it was done, Jennison got his friend Kristian Harloff (now of ‘Schmoes Know’ fame, then an assistant at Silver Pictures) to give it a read. “I knew Kristian from my time interning at Village Roadshow Pictures, and since he worked at the production company who was producing the real Wonder Woman movie, I figured, who better?”

    Harloff liked the script and it trickled up the chain fast, as everyone at Silver Pictures grew more and more excited about it. Then, the studio Warner Bros. got their hands on it, and they liked it too. “It was one of those Tuesday-to-Friday stories we rarely hear about anymore, where people read it at the start of the week and you have a deal by the close of the week. “It was crazy,” Jennison recalled.

    wonder woman

    With a studio deal under his belt, reps came calling and Jennison and Strickland signed with ICM and Underground Management. They began what’s known as ‘the water-bottle” tour, “This is where you meet a lot of people—execs and producers—in a short amount of time. Lots and lots of general meetings.”

    Universal was interested in adapting the graphic novel Villians from Viper Comics into a feature, and they hired the writing duo to adapt it with Sean Bailey’s Ideology producing. “What was great about this project, is we got to have some fun with a group of bad guys with super-powers and tell a story through the lens of someone who wants to learn the fine art of super-crime.”

    Jennison offered a variety of advice for the screenwriting students with adapting pre-existing properties. “The source material is never just what they want. They want your own unique spin on it. They want you to take it somewhere they haven’t thought of… But you as a writer also need to find your own emotional connection to the material, if you strip the fantasy and sci-fi away, what’s the story about for you on a primal human level?”

    Jennison warned that it can be a difficult business, especially when company politics that you have no control of play a role. “Companies merge or an executive leaves and projects linger. Outside forces are constantly altering the landscape of your projects, which is why you have to keep writing, keep coming up with new ideas.”

    Jennison also advised that writers get a day job in the business when they get out of school. One of Jennison’s first jobs was working for the comedy troupe Broken Lizard as an assistant to actor Kevin Heffernan on the movie Beerfest. “It was a great experience working on set and working for an actor. I learned a lot.”

    Jennison shared a few more nuggets, “Play ball. That’s an expression to remember as a writer. Always try and make it work and be collaborative,” Jennison advised. “It’s not for me.” That’s another expression you’ll hear a lot. It’s the soft pass and may be unfortunately all you get sometimes.”

    Joining a writer’s group and working with a writing partner who keeps you to deadlines were two other strategies Jennison suggested when starting out. Jennison now writes his projects himself but got his professional start with a partner.

    “And always remember ‘that was then’ with executives notes,” Jennison closed, “In other words, their opinions can change. What they thought a few months ago or even a week ago, may not be how they feel now. But you need to be flexible and adapt to their changes. And always be searching for where the notes are really coming from. Not the solutions, but the problems”.

    Matthew Jennison currently lives in Los Angeles and works as a Film and TV writer. He is currently developing a variety of TV and film projects around town and repped by Matt Bass at Chemical Imbalance.

    June 23, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 950

  • Actor Stephen Lang Visits NYFA for Q&A After Screening of “Beyond Glory”

    Stephen Lang

    Actor Stephen Lang

    On Thursday, June 18th students, many of whom were veterans, gathered in the New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles Theater and were treated to a special early preview of the documentary, Beyond Glory, followed by a Q&A with actor Stephen Lang. In early May, Lang screened the film to NYFA students at the New York City campus where he joined Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, and himself a Medal of Honor recipient.

    Beyond Glory is a blending of footage from Lang’s one-man show, cutting across multiple performance venues and incorporating original material shot for the film. In it, the seasoned actor interprets interviews with a number of Metal of Honor Recipients. The result is a moving journey through the experiences of those who have survived some of war’s harshest of circumstances.

    “Beyond Glory allows the voices of servicemen to be heard without the filter of the conventions of drama or the prerogatives of deadline-driven journalism. Its sobriety, simplicity and lack of histrionics are the show’s signal strengths.” — Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

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    The discussion with Stephen Lang and Larry Brand was moderated by NYFA LA’s Veteran Outreach Coordinator, NYFA AFA Acting alumnus, and Navy Veteran Eric Brown.

    As a stage actor of great recognition, Stephen Lang has shaped a formidable career on and off the various stages of the United States and abroad. Though he is arguably most well-known for his acclaimed performance in James Cameron’s Avatar (2009), Lang began his career in theater. Broadway roles include his Tony-nominated performance as Lou in The Speed of Darkness, Happy in the Dustin Hoffman revival of Death of a Salesman, Colonel Jessep in A Few Good Men, and Mike Tallman alongside Quentin Tarantino and Marisa Tomei in Wait Until Dark. The film’s director, Larry Brand, was also on stage to answer questions. NYFA LA’s Veteran Outreach Coordinator, NYFA AFA Acting alumnus, and Navy Veteran Eric Brown moderated the discussion.

    The 100-seat theater was overflowing with attendees when Stephen Lang and Larry Brand took the stage to an uproar of applause. It was obvious that Lang was greatly appreciative of the warm reception. He talked with zeal about his experience performing for military and civilian crowds domestically and overseas for almost ten years now. He discussed the differences between performing with a cast of actors versus working in a solo show and jokingly said: “The good part of doing a solo show is I don’t have to rely on the other actor … but then again, the cast parties aren’t as fun!”

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    Stephen Lang, with director Larry Brand, discusses the acting techniques he utilized in “Beyond Glory.”

    There were many acting students in attendance who were curious about techniques Stephen Lang utilized in the film. Lang admitted that he spent most of his time shaping the performances in an audition room at the Actors Studio, which he affectionately calls his “home” in New York. Stephen never relies on one technique, but rather tries something different for each project. Sometimes he’ll find that an approach consistently serves him. The more experience he’s gained, the more basic his approach to acting has become.

    During the discussion, the similarities between an actor and a soldier were discussed. Both play a “role.” A soldier’s role includes his or her branch, job, rank, etc. while realizing elements of honor, integrity, and service. Through theater there is the opportunity for healing from the traumas of war, in which the soldier learns to tell his or her story instead of repressing the memory. This seems to be much of the idea behind Beyond Glory—humanizing the hero and helping us to imagine their incredible tales of selfishness and valor.

    “As a former US Marine, I thought both Stephen and Larry brought so much truth to the reality of each Medal of Honor Recipient’s experiences,” said Tyler Williams, a NYFA BFA acting student and a veteran. “The Medal of Honor is the pinnacle of one’s military career or existence while at the same time a pebble or ripple in the pond that is their life.”

    The New York Film Academy sincerely thanks Stephen Lang and Larry Brand for visiting the College and sharing their experience of creating this tremendous film and piece of American History with NYFA students.

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    Stephen Lang poses in a picture with NYFA veterans.

    To learn more about Beyond Glory, please CLICK HERE.

    June 23, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 978

  • Adam Nimoy’s ‘For the Love of Spock’ Doc Produced in Association with NYFA

    George Takei with NYFA Instructor Adam Nimoy

    George Takei with NYFA Instructor Adam Nimoy

    The New York Film Academy is proud to announce our involvement in the documentary feature film, For the Love of Spock.

    On June 16 and 17, staff and students of the New York Film Academy Los Angeles helped professional Director and long time directing Instructor, Adam Nimoy, produce a documentary about the character of Mr. Spock from Star Trek entitled For the Love of Spock. Adam and his father, Leonard Nimoy who played the iconic role, decided together that it was time to make a documentary about the beloved character. Unfortunately, Leonard Nimoy passed away before they could start production on the documentary. Adam has taken up the reigns with the intent of finishing the documentary and steering it not only towards an in-depth look at the famous Vulcan, but the man, his father, who made the character famous.

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    William Shatner with NYFA crew

    New York Film Academy is lending talent and resources to ensure Adam’s documentary is a success. Earlier this week staff and students were thrilled to join Adam’s production team and help shoot a series of high profile interviews that will make up the spine of the documentary.

    William Shatner (Captain Kirk), George Takei (Lt. Sulu) and Walter Koenig (Ensign Chekov) were just a few of the impressive names that our staff and students helped interview for the documentary. Zachary Quinto will be providing the narration for the film and the New York film Academy is honored to help produce it.

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  • Alum and Instructor Luisa Parnes Featured on GloboTV

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    Luisa Parnes being interviewed by GloboTV

    One of our former students from Brazil, Luisa Parnes, who currently teaches screenwriting at New York Film Academy in New York, was hand picked to be highlighted on Brazil’s largest television network, TV Globo International. The satellite channel is the largest television network in Brazil and 3rd in the world, reaching over 2 million viewers across the world in 115 countries. The show, Planeta Brazil, features successful Brazilians living abroad.

    “When GloboTV reached with the hopes of doing a story on me, I was terrified,” recalled Parnes. “I hate being on camera! It was all very last minute, they called me one day and we shot the next, which was better since I didn’t have too much time to fret over what could go wrong. In the end, I worried for nothing. The reporter and camera were real professional, and NYFA provided a lovely studio in which we could tape the interview. The whole experience was easy and relaxed!”

    In addition to her teaching at the New York Film Academy, Parnes recently published an e-book in Portuguese called Pensando Alto, which roughly translates to “thinking out loud.”

    We look forward to seeing Luisa on GloboTV this summer!

    June 22, 2015 • Screenwriting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 901