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  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumnus Hayden Szeto Visits Los Angeles Campus as Guest Speaker

    On Tuesday, August 15 New York Film Academy alumnus Hayden Szeto returned to the Los Angeles campus to share his latest hit “The Edge of Seventeen.” Q and A Series Director Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Szeto was the first actor cast in the film in what writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig thought would be the most challenging role to cast. But, after auditioning him, she knew Szeto was perfect for the part.

    It could not have come at a better time for Szeto. A Canadian citizen out of school, Szeto was running out of time to find work in the United States. He had just one week left on his visa. This, Szeto said, was a blessing and not a curse: He encouraged the other international students to view the time crunch as a gift. “You don’t want to go home. The weather in LA is great, but you’ve got to earn your stay,” Szeto said. Let the ticking clock be a fire that drives toward success.

    Szeto found NYFA on Google and knew immediately that this is where he wanted to go to school. He had studied theater at another school, but a lack of on-camera work drove him to come to NYFA. Being in Los Angeles with the opportunity to work on professional backlots just sweetened the deal. “This is one school that has everything you need,” Szeto said.

    Szeto encouraged students to take advantage of their time at the New York Film Academy. He stressed that skating by in school would not translate to a flourishing career in the real world. “You’ve got to find out what you’re good at here. Once you leave it’s your responsibility to build on that,” he told students. “Treat this space like a gym.”

    When it was time for the Q & A portion, one student asked, “What catches your eye when reading a script?”

    Szeto responded: “I have to be able to relate to the character. How can I give him dignity?” He said a lot of the decision comes down to talking with the director and writer. “You’re not just auditioning for them, they’re kind of auditioning for you too.”  As an example, Szeto comically described working with a director who gave vague descriptions on how to improve a scene in what would have been a big movie for him, but Szeto ultimately turned down the role.

    An Asian student asked, “Do you have plans to take on roles that deal with Asian American issues?”

    “Being an actor of color, people in your community will say you owe them something because of your skin color. No. If it’s about the Asian American experience and it’s well written than yes, I’ll do it. But  first, it has to be good.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Hayden Szeto for taking the time to revisit his old stomping grounds, and for passing along advice to the next generation of students. Szeto’s next film is “Truth or Dare,” alongside Tyler Posey and Lucy Hale.

  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Viceland’s Eddie Huang as Guest Speaker

    This month, the New York Film Academy welcomed New York Times Bestselling author (“Fresh off the Boat”), chef, designer, and producer Eddie Huang to the Los Angeles campus. The event was hosted by Q & A Director Tova Laiter, who produced “Glory” with Denzel Washington.

    Huang showed NYFA students a segment he filmed in D.C. part of a series he is producing and stars in for Viceland called “Huang’s World.”  On his show, Huang travels the world tasting unique foods from every culture.

    Huang has an incredible resume that included being a lawyer and doing stand-up comedy. He shared that he had wanted to get into film but was told no one wanted to buy Asian American stories. He was crushed, but he did not let it stop him from being an artist.

    “Americans expect us (Asian Americans) to be good at cooking and kung-fu,” Huang said. So he started cooking, but kept his focus on Asian culture when he spoke to the media. Pretty quickly he was picked up for shows like “Munchies” and “Snack-Off.”

    Laiter asked Huang how he pitched “Huang’s World” to Viceland. Essentially, he blended his frustration with not being seen with his love of food: “I told them I wanted to explore culture through food.” That was it. The show was picked up for six episodes.

    When asked how he’s been able to accomplish so much in his short life Huang said, “It’s schedule and discipline. If I wake up and I’m not on it, I get mad.”

    That attitude has permeated every aspect of his life. He has studied everything  (“its about the science of it”) from boxing to film to the difference in how his parents cooked (“mother was more focus and her food tasted better!”).

    Huang expanded upon the unique racism he has faced. In one anecdote, he shared that once he had written an article for a local paper. They liked it so much, they asked him to come in for a job. But when they saw his face they didn’t think people would be interested in talking to him. This is one example of many.

    So, Huang began working a lot of different jobs: “I didn’t know where my entry point was.”

    Huang explained that it is impossible to know where to start a career, but by being forced to start over so many times he grew into a more knowledgeable person and a stronger candidate for every job he applied for afterward.

    His final lesson: “Whatever you’re doing, do it well.”

    Huang had a lot of advice for students, including taking advantage of the library here at NYFA. “I just happened to walk into your library and you guys have a great collection. Use it!” Huang likes to go to Cinefile and watch the entire filmography of a single director. “I like seeing how they’ve progressed from start to finish.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Eddie Huang for speaking to our students. You can watch his show “Huang’s World” on Viceland.

  • Where Are They Now: NYFA Beijing Filmmaking Alumni

    When it comes to New York Film Academy alumni, we are always very excited to hear the answer to the eternal question: where are they now? New York Film Academy 4-Week Filmmaking Program graduates in Beijing, China, have taken our commitment to hands-on learning to new heights after leaving their four-week intensive programs. We recently had a chance to check in and see what NYFA Beijing alumni Terry Chan, Cao Yaoyao, Phoenix Liu, and Nan Zhang have been up to since completing their certificate programs.

    Terry Chan

    Terry Chan is well known for his work as a composer of the Wang Kai-Wai film, “Days of Being Wild.” The film won Best Film at the 10th Hong Kong Film Awards. He also composed the score of “He Ri Jun Zai Lai,” which was nominated for Best Original Score at the 11th Hong Kong Film Awards and the 28th Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards. Chan also scored fellow NYFA alum Phoenix Liu’s film “30 1/2,” which won for Best Original Score at the Asians On Film Festival 2013.

    Recently, Terry has been working on some new videos for absolutefitnesshk while also keeping busy producing albums and directing concerts for many well-known singers in Hong Kong and Taiwan, including Faye Wong, Sammi Cheng, Kelly Chan, Karen Mok, Joey Yung and Elva Hsiao.

    Cao Yaoyao

    Director Cao Yaoyao is well known for her work on popular Chinese television programs, especially “If You Are the One.” This adaptation of the ITV program “Take Me Out” (“Taken Out” on Network 10 in Australia) became the most popular dating reality show in China, with a staggering audience of 50,000,000 per episode.

    Phoenix Liu

    Phoenix Liu is the director of the film “30 1/2,” for which she collaborated with composer and fellow NYFA alum Terry Chan. Phoenix also directed the first Chinese Australian study abroad TV series “Wanderers.”

    Nan Zhang

    Nan Zhang recently worked as a script supervisor on the “Once Upon a Time,” a romantic and dramatic Chinese fantasy feature produced by Alibaba Pictures and directed by Zhao Xiaoding and Anthony LaMolinara. The film, based on popular fantasy novel “Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles Peach Blossoms” also known as “To the Sky Kingdom,” grossed CN¥175 million, or approximately $25,000,000, on its opening day. The film releases in August 2017 in North America.

    Zhang is also assistant director on the film “Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings,” slated to release in 2018.

  • NYFA South Beach Attends Supercon in Fort Lauderdale

    The Broward Convention Center played host for the 2017 edition of Supercon. Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, it was the ideal midpoint for people from the tri-county area. New York Film Academy South Beach was fortunate to be joined by Adam Nimoy, director, former NYFA Filmmaking instructor, and the son of Leonard Nimoy — AKA Spock from “Star Trek.”

    We were honored to be a part of Adam’s promotion for his documentary “For The Love of Spock.” Star Trek fans from all over excitedly came to meet Adam and learn more about his journey as the beloved son of Spock.

    Adam Nimoy Spock NYFA

    During the 4-day event, film buffs, comic book lovers, and anyone who loves a good excuse to play dress-up swarmed the convention center. Our NYFA South Beach booth was located in celebrity row, where fans swarmed Adam’s booth for autographs and personal pictures.

    NYFA got a first row seat to see how passionate the Star Trek fanbase is. There were Star Trek tables dedicated to the franchise, which also included a life-size captain’s chair that Adam couldn’t help but sit in and reminisce.

    At another end of the convention center, you could find a life-size version of the space station set where all the Star Trek characters would be found in a typical episode. Fans lined up to take photos with their family and friends, pretending to play the role of their favorite Star Trek character.

    NYFA Booth Supercon

    Adam’s Q&A on Saturday, which was moderated by South Beach Acting for Film Chair Mark Mocahbee, engaged fans that genuinely loved his documentary and were interested to learn his journey and process while making it.

    Adam ended his Q&A with a special surprise for everyone by premiering the teaser trailer of his newest project, “What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Deep Space Nine.” The crowd of about 200 people that filled the Q&A room was overwhelmed by excitement to be the very first to see his new trailer.

    Moments after the Q&A, the NYFA booth filled with fans that had just been at Adam’s panel hoping to speak to Adam directly and get an autograph.

    Adam Nimoy Signing Supercon

    For particularly impressive costumes, Mr. Nimoy would request photos with fans, which served as memorable moments for Trekkies.

    All in all, NYFA South Beach’s takeover at Supercon in Fort Lauderdale was a tremendous success and the Academy hopes to play a part again next year.

    Post written by: Sally Nieves

    August 8, 2017 • South Beach • Views: 553

  • NYFA Gold Coast Hosts Q&A With Filmmaking Alumnus RK Musgrave

    Recently, New York Film Academy Australia filmmaking alumnus RK Musgrave returned to give a Q&A at the Gold Coast campus as a part of the Guest Speaker Series.

    RK graduated from the Diploma of Filmmaking program in 2013 and has since become a working writer and director in Queensland.

    He recently wrote, directed and produced the dark comedy theatre production “The Turn of Winston Haggle,” which ran for three nights at the Gold Coast Arts Centre Independent Season. Joining RK for the Gold Coast Q&A was one of the stars of the production, NYFA Gold Coast Acting Lecturer Dean Mayer.

    Students at the Gold Coast campus were given an insight into how RK established a creative relationship with his actors and how he utilized this during rehearsals as they collaborated to develop the characters.

    RK explained to the students, “It might be my script but it becomes everyone’s to a point. I’m leading the team, but if Dean comes to me with an idea we test it out to see if it works and if it does, great, we’ll use it … you can’t have an ego about what you’re doing.”

    As an actor, Dean Mayer explained what makes a good director: “Good communication makes me strive as an actor. They have to know what they want and know how to communicate it to actors.”

    RK also informed the students the importance of networking, as well as how it’s critical to establish long-lasting relationships with both filmmakers and actors. RK stated, “I was originally reluctant towards networking but I had to change my opinion. You’ve got to network. A lot of opportunities I’ve got is through the people I’ve gotten to know … now that I’m out in the industry, I’m meeting people and it’s important to build a team you want to constantly work and bounce ideas with … that’s what Steven Spielberg did, he works with the same people.”

    RK further spoke about how he won the 2013 Script-To-Screen longline competition while he was studying at NYFA, which granted him free script coverage. RK was also the winner of the 2016 Australian Commercial Radio Awards for Best Written Commercial.

    RK is currently developing a TV series and pitching to production companies Teddy Browne and Can’t Country. He also has written a 30-minute TV pilot that has been shot with Australia actor, Damian Garvey from “The Kettering Incident,” and is now in post-production with a view to pitching ABC later in the year.

    May 2017 Acting Diploma student Joshua Mackenzie was enthusiastic about the Q&A event: “It was so amazing to hear about his process of rehearsal, working with actors and how to network and maintain working relationships with filmmakers. I learnt a lot.”

    March 2017 Filmmaking Diploma student, Phillip Paton stated, “In one word … inspiring.”


  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Kelly Fremon Craig of “The Edge of Seventeen” as Guest Speaker

    This month, the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy welcomed writer/director/ producer Kelly Fremon Craig to a Q & A following a screening of her award-winning directorial debut, “The Edge of Seventeen.”

    The film stars Hailee Steinfeld as angst riddled teen Nadine and Woody Harrelson as her down-to-Earth teacher. Also featured in “The Edge of Seventeen” is NYFA alumnus Hayden Szeto. Szeto plays Erwin, the love-struck classmate of Nadine.


    Introducing Craig was Associate Chair of Screenwriting Adam Finer. Finer brought his class after a student told him this was his favorite film of the last year. The theater was overflowing with students eager to hear the writer/director tell her success story. Director of the Q & A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Laiter asked Craig about how she got her script into the right hands after only writing one script before that. Craig shared some advice she received in her early 20s: “If you write a really good script you can throw it over the side of a freeway in Hollywood and somebody will find it and produce it.”

    Through persistence and hard work, she landed an agent after her first script got attention — and that agent submitted her second script to legendary writer/producer James L. Brooks, who produced the project.

    Tova asked, “In what ways did Brooks influence your writing?” There were two pieces of advice Craig took to heart. While she focused on making the script funny, he told her: the most important thing you have to do is figure what out what you are saying about life. “It was such a gift to me.” Craig said. “Essentially he was asking, ‘What is the point?’”

    The second piece of advice was, “Always do research.” Craig heeded this advice and visited many local high schools to speak directly with students about their life experiences. She would be a fly on the wall of classrooms and group settings. “There are so many details you pick up there that you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.”

    One student asked, “How did you approach making both a flawed and empathetic character?”

    Craig responded, “That was always the biggest challenge. I wanted to allow her to be every shade. In those moments where she’s being a jerk, you can sympathize with her because you remember the moments of pain.” As a writer, Craig was aware of these moments. In the actual shooting of the film, she tried to keep that balance at the forefront of her mind. She would have Steinfeld do takes on a spectrum. Each take would be a little more or less than the last but would give her many options for nuances at the editing room.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Craig for taking the time to speak to our students. “The Edge of Seventeen” is available now on Blu-ray/DVD and VOD.

  • NYFA Veterans Attend Exclusive Screening of “Dunkirk”

    This month, NYFA Veterans were invited to attend an exclusive pre-release screening of feature film “Dunkirk,” through the Motion Picture and Television Relief Fund’s (MPTF) Veteran Benefits Assistance Program. NYFA Veterans William Grodnick and Luis Camacho attended the special screening of “Dunkirk” in New York City and have shared their experiences with the NYFA Blog. Please note: this blog has been edited for clarity and length.

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    July 27, 2017 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, Veterans • Views: 1612

  • NYFA Los Angeles Welcomes Casting Director Nancy Nayor as Guest Speaker

    This month, New York Film Academy Summer program acting for film and filmmaking students were invited to a Q & A with casting directing extraordinaire, Nancy Nayor after watching “Before I Fall,” which she has cast. Director of the Q & A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Nayor 001

    Nayor who served for 14 years of head of Universal Feature casting before striking on her own, is best known for her work with directors such as: Steven Spielberg Spike Lee, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, John Hughes & Sam Raimi’s among many others.

    Her movies include the following: “Act of Valor,” “Ouija,” “Road Trip,” “The Whole Nine Yards,” “The Grudge,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “When a Stranger Calls,” “Kit Kittredge: An American Girl,” “Darkman,” “Casper,” and Wes Craven’s “Scream 4.”

    Nayor gave the students a strong list of do’s and don’t within the casting room. One that surprised many students was: do not shake hands, especially during germ season. Casting directors can meet with over 40 people in a day. They cannot afford to get sick.

    The biggest tip of the night was not to be too nervous and to not over-rehearse before going into an audition so the emotions can shine through. Prepare, yes, but Nayor shared that actors are not necessarily required to be off book, and should not be nervous about every flub. Directors are looking for multiple things, such as how well an actor works with a group or their ability to improvise. But most importantly, they want to know that an actor can be human on camera.

    Laiter asked Nayor about the difference between casting for comedy and drama. Nayor mentioned several differences: “I think it’s different in the sense that there’s a comic timing. People who have it are born with it. You can develop it, but in the end, you’re either born with it or you’re not. In dramatic casting people have to really go for it. Actors really have to commit.”  

    Nayor 008

    Nayor also advised dramatic actors to stick to the script more so than comedic actors who may improvise. “When I worked on ‘21 and Over,’ people came into the audition room idolizing these two great writers from ‘The Hang Over.’ But the writers were so tired of their own words. They wanted the actors to improvise… ”

    One student asked, “How do you get discovered?” Nayor responded, “There’s no way you can be undiscovered, technically, because there’s this thing called YouTube. I’m a big believer in self-tapes, whether that’s actors and writers coming together or you writing for yourself. You don’t have to wait for permission to be creative. That project can be a calling card for you.”

    Laiter shared that some of the people who work with Spielberg, whether a composer or cinematographer, had said in NYFA Q&As that he had found them by watching movies on TV late at night, so you never know who is going to see it.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Nancy Nayor for taking the time to speak with our students. Naylor has done casting for 12 films scheduled for release in 2017 including “Delirium” and “Scorched Earth.”

     

    July 27, 2017 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1500

  • Gold Coast Q&A with Advanced Diploma Acting Alumnus Will Allen 

    On Wednesday, July 19, New York Film Academy alumnus Will Allen gave a Q&A at the NYFA Gold Coast campus. Since graduating in January 2017 from the Advanced Diploma of Acting program, Will has burst onto the acting scene, having already received credits on feature films such as, “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Australia Day” and “In Like Flynn.”

    Copy of NU4A6344

    Students at the Gold Coast campus were given an invaluable insight into how Will used the opportunities and training provided to him by NYFA Australia to establish an acting career. Will explained how NYFA-run Q&A’s and master classes with industry professionals helped Copy of NU4A6298him prepare to break into the industry.

    Will was approached by Talent Manager Gael McDonald, of Williams Management, after an on-campus Q & A session about the industry. He subsequently signed with the agency and had his first audition within a matter of weeks. Will went on to get a featured extra role on “Thor: Ragnarok,” which was filmed at the Village Road Show Studio, where NYFA’s campus is located.

    As the floor opened up for questions from the students, one current acting student asked about his audition process and if he’s made any mistakes. Will responded, “There is no such thing as bad acting, there’s bad choices. Make sure your choices are on point and you’ll be fine … Everyone gets nervous. Every audition, I get nervous — but I prepare so well that when I walk into the room it’s controlled nerves so I use it to my advantage, as I would have more energy going into the room than I would if I did a self test.”

    Having graduated the from the Advanced Acting program in early 2017, Will explained the benefits of doing the second year of training at NYFA and how it’s helped him with his career: “The Advanced program is more business focused by informing you how to market yourself and how you get gigs out in the industry. In your first year you’re learning about yourself as an actor. You’re learning how to find you. In Advanced it’s business time and preparing you in how to put everything you learnt in action.”

    Copy of NU4A6320Will gave the students the following advice, “NYFA is a safe zone where you can explore and don’t feel embarrassed. Don’t pull back. Do the stuff you feel like you shouldn’t do.”

    On the feature film set of “In Like Flynn,” Will became good friends with Clive Standen, from “Vikings,” who took Will under his wing and became an ongoing mentor to him. In October 2017 Will is relocating to Canada with the aim to build and establish an acting career in American and Canada.

    July 2017 Acting Diploma student David Cook shared he appreciated this guest speaker, saying: “I liked Will’s honest approach and how he talked about always being truthful to yourself as an actor”

    May 2017 Acting Diploma student Ilia Valdez agreed, “It was wonderful to see that the lessons learned at NYFA have practical applications in the real world.”

  • NYFA Australia Welcomes Cinematographer Toby Oliver as Guest Speaker

    Sydney students were fortunate to hear from native Australian, award-winning cinematographer Toby Oliver, who has forged a successful career in the U.S. and internationally. Moderated by NYFA Australia Dean of Faculty Art Helterbran Jr., it was an inspiring Guest Speaker event which centered on the topic of work ethic in the film industry.

    Some of Mr. Oliver’s recent credits include thriller “Get Out,” with Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya, filmed in the U.S. state of Alabama. According to IMDB, “Get Out” ranked #1 at the U.S. Box Office on its opening weekend in February 2017.

    NYFA Sydney student Charlie was particularly pleased to hear from a cinematographer with so much experience working in intense movies. “I love horror films,” Charlie shared after the event. “It was so amazing to hear from a DoP who has worked on films I really loved. It’s was the best talk ever.”

    An accredited member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS), and the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), Toby’s credits also include the Australian WWI epic “Beneath Hill 60,” (Australian Academy nomination); TV movie “Beaconsfield” (Gold ACS Award and the ACS Best in Show); “Wolf Creek 2” (ACS Gold Award, Venice Film Festival); and “Carlotta” (Australian Academy nomination). In his uniquely international career, Toby has also created a prolific body of work in China, including the romantic Chinese-language “Waiting Alone” as well as the Australia/China co-production “33 Postcards.”

    Toby’s advice to the international student community of NYFA Australia centered on the importance of having a strong work ethic: “…(working in the film industry) is all about work ethic. If you want to do something, you got to do it properly…all the way through to the end.”

    He also pointed to having an awareness of the whole team on the film set as being essential to a film’s success, no matter the role. “Having actors who got that kind of skills to be aware of the filmmaking process, as well as their own performance, is not easy, but it can usually help make a better movie.”

    NYFA Australia students found Toby’s stories and insights particularly inspiring, given the cinematographer’s breadth and depth of experience. “Very inspiring to hear from a true Hollywood master,” said student Anthony. “This talk gave me a good idea how to work my way to success.”

    Fellow student Simon agreed. “Toby was generous with his time, sharing his insights and knowledge into the industry and his own creative and collaborative practice.”

    The New York Film Academy Australia would like to thank Toby Oliver for visiting our Sydney campus as a Guest Speaker.