New York Film Academy Acting for Film graduate Ronen Rubinstein has come out of the gates running. Since graduating from NYFA, he’s appeared in a few features, including It Felt Like Love, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and landed him representation with Radius Entertainment and The Gersh Agency. Last night, Ronen returned to his alma mater to screen the film and discuss life “in the real world.”
The independent feature truly captures the raw emotions of a teenage girl coming into her sexuality without a mother in her life. The lead, Lila, fixates herself on an older boy, Sammy, played by Ronen. Sammy is the kind of guy who seems to be willing to sleep with any girl at the party and yet Lila becomes infatuated with him. Given the somewhat misogynistic nature of Sammy’s character, Ronen initially found the role challenging.
“I would take pieces of people I knew in high school and mold them into the character of Sammy,” said Ronen. “I actually knew a lot of ‘Sammys’ in high school, but was afraid to talk to them.”
With no real rehearsal time and a first time director, Eliza Hittman, Ronen was able to tackle the part in what became an unprecedented nineteen day film shoot in Brooklyn. In the feature film world, that’s almost unheard of. Nevertheless, the film found itself at Sundance, screens across the country, and is currently available on Netflix. Ronen says that Sundance really propelled his career and confidence in the business. Seeing the likes of Robert De Niro, James Franco and Robert Redford gave Ronen the inspiration and confirmation that a career in acting was the right path for him.
Ronen provided a unique prospective to students on life after acting school. Given the fact that Ronen is only two years out of NYFA, it was refreshing to hear first-hand the possibilities of being a working actor right out of school. One piece of advice that Ronen learned at NYFA: “You can’t judge your character. If you judge them, you won’t be able to properly portray what they’re doing in the film.” As an example, if you’re asked to play a murderer in a film and go in with a negative attitude towards that person, the ability to truly capture that person will be extremely difficult.
While reflecting on his time at NYFA, Ronen recalled one of his favorite instructors, Paul Warner. What he loved most about Paul was that he never sugarcoated anything—much like the real world. Having that critical tutorage is a key to success.
In addition to It Felt Like Love, Ronen will be appearing in the features Condemned and Some Kind of Hate. Not only that, he will be appearing in season 3 of Netflix’s hit show, Orange is the New Black.