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  • Actor Matthew Modine Hosts NYFA Master Class for Veterans

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA), 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 servicemembers in their pursuit of a world-class filmmaking education, through our Veterans Advancement Program Chaired by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient.

    Through the generosity of the New York Film Academy Foundation, on December 19 the College provided a free Master Class Workshop to military servicemembers and veterans at the School’s Los Angeles campus. The event featured veteran actor and director Matthew Modine.

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    Matthew Modine with Master Class attendees

    The classes offered an exciting and unique opportunity for more than 50 military servicemembers and veterans to learn essential filmmaking and acting principles taught by members of NYFA’s esteemed faculty and Mr. Modine. Several NYFA veteran students served as technical assistants. Each branch of the military was represented including many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and the gathering proved to be an excellent environment for the attendees to network.

    Mr. Modine spoke to the group about his 30 years of experience in the industry as an actor and a director. Among his many accomplishments, Modine is known for his portrayal as “Joker” in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece Full Metal Jacket. Modine’s role in the military film Memphis Belle also earned him critical acclaim. He has directed a number of short films and is currently in pre-production on a feature called The Rocking Horseman.

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    NYFA staff demonstrating to veteran different features of the lighting system

    The acting class, taught by NYFA faculty Christopher Cass, provided an overview of the Industry and what it takes to “make it” as an actor. The class went over basic principals of acting for the camera — shot sizes, set etiquette, listening and emotional choices for the camera. Actors then shot and played-back the scene for review and critique.

    The Filmmaking class, taught by NYFA faculty David Newman, went over the film industry employment opportunities available in the entertainment field. This class also discussed the qualities and skill sets needed to be an effective director. Participants had the chance to act and fulfill key crew roles on set (including directing, camera operator, boom operator). The class then rehearsed and shot a two character scene.

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    Master Class Group Shot with Matthew Modine

    Jon Garza, US Navy veteran who attended the Master Classes was thankful to have the opportunity attend. He stated that, “this event was a great opportunity to network with fellow veterans and learn from industry professionals.”

    Please join our Veterans Facebook group for more information about the 2016 free Master Classes schedule.

    December 23, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 1264

  • Screenwriting Instructor Dan Kay Discusses ‘Pay the Ghost’ and Writing in Hollywood

    New York Film Academy screenwriting instructor Dan Kay is making quite an impression in Hollywood right now with the latest Nicholas Cage flick he penned entitled Pay the Ghost. The taut thriller follows a man (Nicolas Cage) who—haunted by eerie images and unexplainable messages—tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of his son. The film hit theaters, Blu-ray and digital download just in time for this past Halloween. Kay has also written the horror film Timber Falls (2007), comedy Way Off Broadway (2001), which he also directed, and the revenge thriller I.T. in post production now and set to release soon. I.T. stars Pierce Brosnan as a successful book publisher who is pitted against a young disgruntled I.T. consultant using his tech skills to threaten the author’s family and livelihood. Los Angeles campus’s Dean of Students Eric Conner moderated the discussion. Dan Kay recounted for students the path that got him to where he is today and gave invaluable advice.

    dan kay

    Consistent with the NYFA philosophy of learning by doing, right out of college Dan moved to New York and began working on every film set he could find. This helped him to learn the nuts and bolts of film production. Meanwhile, he wrote what was to become his screenwriting and directorial debut Way Off Broadway. It took him two years to find money for the film, however Dan considers this time he spent pitching and rewriting the script to be crucial to the story’s success. Had he gotten money right after finishing the first draft of the script the film would not have been any good. The film is based off of his friends and experiences in college theater. Dan stressed the importance of “writing what you know,” which is exactly what he did in order to break into the biz.

    After coming out to Los Angeles Dan was hired to write the sequel and story arch for subsequent sequels to Disney’s Tinkerbell animated movie. The producing team working on the series loved Dan’s work and he was feeling confident navigating the very new-to-him world of children’s movies. However, out of nowhere there was a corporate takeover and everyone who had hired Dan was suddenly replaced and the new producers replaced Dan as well. This had nothing to do with the quality of his work but rather the new producers wanted to bring in their own writers. The entertainment industry is unpredictable and unstable, Dan explained, and you have to be resilient. This is exactly what Dan did in deciding to venture into a whole new genre for him—horror. It wasn’t long until his first horror script Timber Falls was being produced.

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    NYFA Dean of Students Eric Conner with Dan Kay

    Dan described how the making of his movie Pay the Ghost came about which was particularly interesting to producers. A producer Dan collaborated with had been hitting up small literary management agencies looking for good, unpublished stories. Agencies are often more than happy to option these stories for free and forgo payment until and if the story is developed into some medium. This is exactly how Pay the Ghost came about, as it was originally a short story—albeit a very short story. Dan’s producer gave him the optioned short story and he elaborated on it extensively to develop a feature length script. His work impressed production companies and the script was soon bought. Once Nicholas Cage decided to attach himself to the script it wasn’t long before financing came through and the film was made.

    The New York Film Academy is privileged to have Dan Kay, such a wonderful real world entertainment professional, teaching our students and we look forward to watching his career soar!

    December 22, 2015 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1617

  • Award-Winning NYFA Grad Directs “Smile” for Rapper Baby Kaely

    One of the many terrific benefits of attending the New York Film Academy for aspiring filmmakers is the opportunity to study with other creative people – actors, producers, writers, illustrators and graphic designers. While studying and practicing your craft you can immediately begin building a network of friends in the industry. It is no secret that connections in this business are very important. After graduation, many of our alumni successfully work with their former classmates.

    The most resent example of amazing teamwork of NYFA grads is the new music video “SMILE” for a young Hollywood rapper Baby Kaely, who is just 10 years old and already has collaborated with the famous hip hop producer will.i.am. Her new music video “SMILE” was directed by MA Film & Media Production alumnus Mykyta Samusiev and produced by former NYFA student Kelline Kanoui. In addition to them the crew included another one of our graduates, Konstantin Frolov, who worked on the project as Director of Photography and Editor. The video has been on YouTube for just about a month and has already gained over 130,000 views. This proves once again that a great team of professionals can produce a significant product.

    Another great example of a successful collaboration between New York Film Academy graduates is the award-winning short “Death of a Government Clerk,” also directed by Mykyta Samusiev. The film recently won an Award of Merit Accolade Global Film Competition, Award of Merit Best Short Competition and Award of L.A. NEO Noir Film & Script Festival Film Festival. To bring this Anton Chekhov story to life, Samusiev teamed up with fellow graduates Sergey Kalvarskiy, Egor Povolotsky, Bogdan Yansen and Alex Lampsos.

    death of government

    As they say, there is no force more powerful than a group of people with similar goals and ambitions. When Mykyta Samusiev came to Los Angeles from Ukraine, driven by his dream to become a filmmaker, he didn’t know a single soul in the United States. By completing a Master’s degree program at NYFA, he not only nurtured his interests in writing, directing and producing films but also met many like-minded people that shared his vision.

    We recommend all students to follow his example. Start making connections from the first day of the program. Do not treat your school years as a rehearsal before the real world. Work has already begun!

    December 21, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 821

  • NYFA Photography Welcomes Digital Artist Pascal Dangin

    The New York Film Academy Photography Department’s most recent guest speaker was Pascal Dangin, the world’s pre-eminent post-production digital artist for photography and creative director for advertising.

    Dangin is the founder and CEO of Box Studios, where he leads a team of 40 photo post-production experts doing work for major magazines, photographers, and ad agencies. He is the most widely quoted and sought after post-production/digital artist, frequently interviewed in the press regarding the implications of digital image manipulation.

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    His reputation as a “photo whisperer” has expanded his involvement to encompass every aspect of production on major photography and video shoots. He founded Kids Creative and serves as a Creative Director to top international luxury brands including Balenciaga, Alexander Wang and Prada among others. He advises top tier photographers and artists as a curator and creative director. Pascal commissions world-renowned photographers from the old guard and also collaborates with emerging talent.

    Dangin got his start in the art world through his work with hair. His attention to detail while on set was noticed by photographers and directors alike, propelling him into the world of digital photography and advertising.

    pascal dangin

    Like film and television, Dangin stresses the importance of storytelling in his photography and advertising work. If there’s no story behind the images, he admits he’s easily bored.

    As for what makes artists successful in his business, Dangin says, “Fear of failure is the biggest stumbling block. There is no such thing as failure. As Nike says, just do it.”

    Our photography students learned a great deal from Mr. Dangin, who has had a hand in the production of many of the most iconic images of the past twenty years.

    December 18, 2015 • Digital Editing, Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 823

  • ‘Midnight Delight’ Wins Top Honors at the Oregon Film Awards 2015

    Midnight Delight, the latest feature from New York Film Academy graduate Rohit Gupta has been honored with the prestigious Platinum award for Best Experimental Film at the 2015 Oregon International Film Awards. “We are highly delighted about such an encouraging honor,” said Gupta, whose third film in a row continues to enthrall audiences around the world. Gupta’s earlier feature Life! Camera Action… picked up the Grand Jury Choice Award, the highest recognition at the same event in 2011.

    Tag-lined “Say hi to high…” and “Couch. Conversations. Clarity,” the 85-minute unique comedy film, Midnight Delight, produced by Gupta and Saumin Mehta under the banner of production company Dot and Feather Entertainment, is a composition of nine vignettes of characters at a smoking lounge and their hilarious antics with people they’ve never met before. Gupta shot the entire film over two-nights with a multi-camera set up. Mehta also post-produced the film, including an animated sequence, in only three months. The ensemble cast includes award winning actor Shaheed Woods, Michele Suttile, Alexandra Hellquist, award winning actress Dipti Mehta, John Crann, Maggie Alexander, Bill McCrea, Rachel Myers, Michael Laguerre, Adit Dileep, Sofia Sivan and Michael Lester who is also credited as co-editor. The theme song is I get high by Filo.

    When asked Gupta about the significance of the title, Gupta replied, “Midnight Delight has been my all time favorite ice-cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery.” Fair enough.

    The Oregon International Film Awards (OIFA) recognizes the very best in contemporary international independent cinema and screenwriting. OIFA presents awards annually to unique and compelling films from around the world. Awards are presented each year in four top recognition levels: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze and only to those films and filmmakers that demonstrate a superior level of craftsmanship and quality.

    midnight delight

    Gupta and his team have another reason to celebrate this festival season as Midnight Delight has also been announced as an Official Selection at the Blow-up Chicago International Art House Film Festival 2015, which takes place towards the end of December. The Festival, named after the Michelangelo Antonioni’s iconic film Blow-Up, brings original storytellers together with adventurous audiences for its annual program.

    Earlier in 2015, Midnight Delight won the Judges Choice Film of the Festival award at the Cannabis Film Festival in Humboldt County, California, where the jury stated, “Midnight Delight is like smoking a cinematic joint.” At the film’s Washington state premiere at the 2015 Hempapalooza Music and Film Festival, it was said, “Midnight Delight is a pure cinematic aphrodisiac that brings a completely new and unique take on cannabis based movies and culture.”

    December 17, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1398

  • NYFA Student Directs Comedy TV Show for Kazakhstan Television

    Egor Povolotsky and Medet Shayakhmetov

    Egor Povolotsky and Medet Shayakhmetov

    At just 22 years old, New York Film Academy BFA Filmmaking student Medet Shayakhmetov has taken giant steps toward achieving his professional goals. His numerous filmmaking credits include directing music videos for the top Russian rap artist duo Basta/Guf and a commercial for a Swiss social network — Swiss Social, which he wrote, directed and shot. Last spring he directed a comedy TV-show “Q-eлi,” about life in different parts of Kazakhstan, for the Kazakhstan TV’s “Channel Seven.” But his journey into the film industry wasn’t always smooth sailing.

    “It is very important to follow your heart, believe in yourself and believe that everything is possible,” says Medet. From a very young age he loved arts and wanted to pursue a career in design. But in high school his friend asked him to help make a video for a friend’s 16th birthday. Once Medet held a camera in his hands, he knew right away that filmmaking was going to be one of his life’s passions. He made a serious effort to choose the right film school while building a strong video-portfolio. His dream was to study filmmaking, particularly in the United States. And when—thanks to his talent, hard work and perseverance—Medet won a scholarship from the non-commercial organization “Saby Charitable Foundation,” he immediately chose the New York Film Academy.

    “Before I started my education at New York Film Academy I had already shot many music videos and commercials, but I never made a real movie. At NYFA I learned how to make films and work in a team, which is very important. On the first week of the program we were given film equipment and immediately began shooting our first project.”

    on the set of “Q-eлi”

    “Q-eлi” is Medet Shayakhmetov’s first big professional project for television. The practical on-set experience gained at New York Film Academy helped him to accept the offer to direct this project without any doubts. He already knew what the responsibilities of each crew position were and felt confident to plan and manage a full size cast and crew with more than 50 extras.

    “The knowledge I received from the Acting for Filmmakers course was very useful,” recalls Medet. “NYFA instructor Salvatore Interlandi taught us how to hold casting sessions and how to get the best performance from an actor on set.

    Medet is currently working on his thesis film and two new music videos. One is for the indie-pop band POMPEYA (post-production) and the second one is for the Chicago-based DJs FLOSSTRADAMUS (pre-production). After graduating from the New York Film Academy, Medet Shayakhmetov is planning to go back to his home country. He believes the film industry in Kazakhstan has a bright future and he hopes his contribution of the knowledge he gained at NYFA will help the industry to gain recognition on a global level.

    December 16, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1775

  • Actor Paulo Costanzo Visits NYFA Battery Place

    Having grown up with the desire to direct films, especially after first seeing Trainspotting, Paulo Costanzo first broke into the business through acting. His biggest break came about after an open audition in Canada got the attention of Todd Phillips and Ivan Reitman for the comedy, Road Trip. Beating the odds with hard work, talent and a little bit of luck, Costanzo landed the role of Rubin Carver in Road Trip and never looked back. “Had I not prepared and been that confident, I wouldn’t have nailed the audition,” said Costanzo.

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    After Road Trip, Costanzo landed several acting roles in both film and television, including the TV series Joey and, most recently, Royal Pains. Having the opportunity to work on set for twenty years as an actor allowed Costanzo to watch and learn from directors on set. It was through that learning process and his long desire to direct that Costanzo would get the job to direct a few episodes of the USA hit show Royal Pains, in which he also plays Evan Lawson.

    Last week, while speaking to acting and filmmaking students at the New York Film Academy, Costanzo dissected several scenes of Royal Pains that he directed and explained the thought process that went behind each. Moderated by NYFA Short-term Filmmaking Chair Jonathan Whittaker and Acting Chair Glynis Rigsby, Costanzo spoke in depth about the mentality of being confident and prepared, whether it be for an audition or directing a film or TV show.

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    NYFA Short-term Chair Jonathan Whittaker, Acting Chair Glynis Rigsby and Paulo Costanzo

    Costanzo says he can relate to our students in that he is currently in the process of transitioning to a career as a feature director, and so he feels like a beginner in the business. He’s in the middle of writing a dramatic comedy feature that he hopes to direct in the near future.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Costanzo for bringing us his refreshing sense of humor along with invaluable advice. We wish him the best of luck on developing his first feature film!

    December 15, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1454

  • NYFA Student Veterans Shadow Animators at Dreamworks

    dreamworksFour New York Film Academy veterans from the Los Angeles campus were chosen to participate in a Veterans Shadowing Day at the Dreamworks Animation Studio campus on December 2 in honor of Veterans Day.

    The program, created by Dreamworks HR VP Tim Norman (he himself an army veteran) — alongside Veterans in Film and Television, and LA faculty member Suzanne Kent — was a unique opportunity for the selected NYFA students to be paired with top animation creators for a day of shadowing, hands on-experience and immersion in their respective fields.

    Participants from Dreamworks included an animation modeler, a CGI Supervisor, and a Motion Capture director.

    Those attending from NYFA were Brian Melo, Chris Cardoza, Kenesha Bolton and Kunanon Soothinpong.

    The program was successful for everyone involved and it is the hope that this project can be continued on an annual basis.

    December 14, 2015 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 581

  • NYFA Grad Shoots Award-Winning Feature on $12k Budget

    dutch killsAfter graduating from New York Film Academy in 2001, Liam Le Guillou returned home and began working at a major broadcasting station in the UK, ITV. While there he trained as camera and editor technician, building on his training from NYFA. Having reached some success at the station, producing his first 30-minute program after only 3 years, Le Guillou decided to set up his own company; Spike Productions. At Spike he produced a number of documentaries as well as some award-wining corporate and commercial content. But his love of narrative filmmaking was still burning and in 2011 he returned to New York to work on his first feature film, Dutch Kills, as Director of Photography/Producer and Editor.

    Dutch Kills was filmed on a nearly impossible $12,000 budget, with mostly a four person crew (two of which were the lead actors). Despite the small crew and budget, the film won Best Thriller Feature at the Manhattan Film Festival in 2014. Also, Dutch Kills is being distributed by Screen Media Films, and is available now on iTunes!

    Recently, we had a chance to ask the filmmaker and former NYFA student about Dutch Kills and his career since graduating.

    How did you get involved with Dutch Kills?

    I got involved with Dutch Kills when I met the Director, Joseph Mazzella, at a networking party in NYC. He told me he was starting the project but was still in need of a cinematographer. After I met with Joe and the two writers (who were also both the lead actors, Tama Filing and R.L. Mann), I realized they had a pretty decent script but they also needed some more help in getting the project off the ground. So I came onboard as DP, but also as a producer — particularly to help with the technical aspects of putting a film together. And when we found that the previously assigned editor was unable to commit enough time to project, I also came on as editor of the film.

    In your own words, what is this film about?

    Dutch Kills is about two close friends who get back together after some time in jail and are forced into doing “one last job” by a crooked cop. But for me it’s really a story about the nature of trust and friendship and how that can change over time.

    Was your NYFA education useful in terms of being able to produce / DP / edit a film like this?

    So I completed an 8-week intensive filmmaking course in 2001 at NYFA in New York. It was an amazing experience for a young Brit, who had never been to New York before. What I loved about the course was it was very practical. We took out 16mm cameras and shot our first shorts the very first weekend of the course. Those skills, and the experience, landed me a job in the technical crew as a trainee position for one of the major TV stations in the UK, ITV, where I continued my camera and editing training for the next few years.

    Liam Le Guillou with Director Joseph Mazzella

    Liam Le Guillou with Director Joseph Mazzella

    What advice would you give to other filmmakers working on such a tight budget?

    Dutch Kills was almost an impossible task of completing a film on just $25,000 (we finished shooting on just $12K). It’s obviously a really difficult job and there are loads of tips and tricks we used to make it happen, and I should probably write a book on it! But a few of the key things were to have a core team, (we had four of us) who were passionate about the film and also equal owners of the project. We each had unique and complimentary skills, which were crucial in pulling together all of the cast, crew, locations and equipment to make it happen. In fact, production went incredibly smoothly but we did underestimate the amount of work and effort post-production would take. I think if you have little to no money, you have to have someone in the team who is a good editor and has the time to take on the project. In our case, I took on the the edit with most of the other team members in the edit with me—this saved a huge cost. But the negative side to that is you don’t have fresh eyes on it, so we ran 4 or 5 test screenings with friends and family which gave us a new insight to the film, and actually lead us to shooting three new scenes, including a new end scene—almost 12 months after principle photography!

    Are you currently working on another project?

    Since we completed Dutch Kills, I’ve DP’ed a second feature film, Painless, which is currently in post and I’ve been working on a number of documentary and short form projects, including a really fun travel/fashion piece called Style Out There, for Refinery29. The series has had over 2 million views, which is really exciting. Have a look at the piece below!

    December 14, 2015 • Cinematography, Digital Editing, Filmmaking, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1698

  • Screen and Theatre Legend Tony LoBianco Inspires Confidence in Acting Students

    tony lobiancoA proud Brooklynite, actor Tony LoBianco captured a full crowd of New York Film Academy acting students from the moment he stood in front of them until the standing ovation at the end—and even afterwards in a long line that formed to meet the brilliant and humble, motivational speaker. The career of actor Tony LoBianco is distinguished as much by its depth and variety, as by the skills and gifts Mr. Lo Bianco has brought to his work. Over the past 61 years, he has appeared in numerous films, television programs, and stage performances, both on-screen and off as a writer, director, and producer. Throughout his career, Mr. Lo Bianco has collaborated with many of the brightest creative minds in the performing arts, both past and present.

    Perhaps most known for his performance as Sal Boca in the five-time Academy Award winning film The French Connection with Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, LoBianco starred in the cult classic The Honeymoon Killers; The Seven-Ups with Roy Scheider; starred with Richard Gere and Paul Sorvino in Bloodbrothers; City Heat with Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds; Director Oliver Stone’s Nixon with the great Anthony Hopkins; The Juror with Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore; F.I.S.T. with Sylvester Stallone and Rod Steiger; Boiling Point with Wesley Snipes and Dennis Hopper; the cult classic God Told Me To; and Kill the Irishman with Val Kilmer, Vincent D’onofrio, and Christopher Walken; and La Romana with Gina Lollabrigida.

    On stage, Mr. Lo Bianco won an Obie Award for Best Actor in Jonathan Reynold’s Yanks-3, Detroit-0, Top of the 7th. Following his memorable performance as Eddie Carbone in Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge on Broadway, he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor, and won the Outer Critics Circle Award. He also won a New York Area Television Academy Award and daytime Emmy for Hizzoner! The Life of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

    On television, Mr. Lo Bianco starred as Rocky Marciano, the only undefeated heavy weight champ of the world, in Marciano. He appeared in the mini-series Marco Polo and Jesus of Nazareth directed by the great Franco Zeffirelli. He also starred in The Last Tenant with legendary acting teacher Lee Strasberg. He has appeared over the years in several Law & Order episodes; Police Story; Jessie with Lindsay Wagner; Another Woman’s Child with Linda Lavin; among many others. As a director, Mr. Lo Bianco directed several episodes of television, including Police Story; The Duke; Cliffhangers; When the Whistle Blows; Kaz; and the feature film Too Scared to Scream.

    In 1963, Mr. Lo Bianco co-founded the Triangle Theater in New York City and served as artistic director for six years, during which time lighting designer Jules Fisher, playwright Jason Miller, and actor Roy Scheider, passed through its doors. Mr. Lo Bianco himself directed eight productions and produced twenty-five others.

    His long-lasting and successful career sprang from a confident, street-fighting man in Brooklyn, who caught the attention of his teacher and eventually his entire neighborhood by winning a monologue contest. It would be from that point on that LoBianco’s confidence would have him booking audition after audition. He stresses, “Take courage. Be sure of yourself.”

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    Tony LoBianco with NYFA Acting for Film Chair Glynis Rigsby

    While admitting this is “the most difficult business to get into,” LoBianco says, “actors must be strong enough to understand rejection. All the mistakes that you make are just part of the education.”

    He insists that actors and people in general find their foundation—find out who you are. From that point, you will exude confidence and others will respond in a positive way. “Always dare yourself to be wrong.”

    Above it all, the humbling LoBianco understands and preaches that we’re all human beings and should treat each other with respect. It is a privilege to be an actor and, in no way, does it give the right to be rude or conceited. Always be chivalrous toward those around, and never take your gift for granted.

    It was truly an honor to watch Mr. LoBianco speak with such passion and sincerity. His wisdom and insight made for a truly remarkable evening and we can’t thank him enough.

    December 11, 2015 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 950