Eric Brown
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  • Soundarya Sharma Discusses Acting and New York Film Academy

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    Actress Soundarya Sharma is keeping active amid the Coronavirus global pandemic. She was in the middle of attending 4-Week Acting for Film Workshop at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus when the pandemic forced classes to be transferred from in-person to online learning.

    Soundarya discussed her experience at NYFA and her plans for the future. “I loved Richard Steinmetz’s class, techniques, and scene study. I loved his detailed explanations on how to be in the moment. Corey Pepper’s improv classes are also all about the presence of mind, which, I feel, is very important for an actor!”

     

     

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    Becoming an actress wasn’t always part of Soundarya’s plans for the future. “I completed my bachelor’s degree in dental studies and was pursuing residency opportunities in New Delhi, India – my hometown. It was during this time that I got audition opportunities which led me to the city of Mumbai. Once in the city, I realized that I want to pursue acting as a career.” Her decision to pursue a career in acting led her to the New York Film Academy. “NYFA is one of the finest acting academies in the world. I wanted to enhance my craft to an international standard and what would be better than to learn it at NYFA? Acting requires passion and craft which needs various modulations, NYFA is the best institute to mold you according to your skill.

    The COVID-19 global pandemic has been a challenging time for many. Soundarya has used this time to learn. “I have been spending most of my time learning Spanish online; keeping myself fit by hiking 10 miles a day at Runyon canyon; home workouts; swimming and yes, attending many of the NYFA webinars, they’re very helpful!”

    New York Film Academy can’t wait for what’s next for Soundarya Sharma!

     

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    November 4, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 927

  • NYFA Acting Alum Dan Gregory Discusses Success and Upcoming Projects

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    New Jersey native Dan Gregory has kept busy since attending an Acting for Film workshop at New York Film Academy (NYFA) back in 2010. He has won numerous awards for his acting and directing. NYFA caught up with Dan to discuss his career and future endeavors.

    He has collected a number of impressive credits and collaborations in a relatively short amount of time. “I’ve co-starred in Cabin Of Errors, a romantic comedy feature streaming on Amazon Prime Video. It was shot in New Hampshire. I worked with a talented group of artists from the acclaimed film company, Narrow Bridge Films. I’ve worked with Emmy Winner Obba Babatunde on a short film Speculo. I recently worked on a feature called The Elevator starring Oscar Nominated actor Eric Roberts and Directed by the gifted Jack Andrew Cook. I co-produced and starred in Karmen. It’s a short thriller that has won various awards at Film Festivals both domestically and internationally. I worked alongside brilliant women on that project including Loarina Gonzalez, Alexandra Faye Sadeghian, and my girlfriend (Award-Winning Latina Director) Jayleen S Perez.”

    “Cabin of Errors” starring NYFA acting alum Dan Gregory

    Dan hasn’t shied away from eclectic and challenging roles. “My favorite project to work on was Yellow Scare. I got to play dual comedic roles as father and son. A drunken pilot Shamus, and a simple-minded leader of a motorcycle gang named Tony. That performance won me a prestigious Best Supporting Actor in a Feature Film Award at the 2018 Golden Door International Film Festival. The film should be hitting Amazon Prime soon. It’s currently available on Blu-ray.”

    His love for acting dates back to his childhood where he would often act out characters in real-life situations. “I loved playing characters since I’m a kid. In preschool, I jumped between being Donatello (a Ninja Turtle) and Egon (a Ghostbuster) in class. As you can imagine this was concerning to many people, but it’s starting to pay off!”

    NYFA Alum Dan Gregory and director Jayleen S Perez.

    Dan’s dedication to the craft eventually led him to the New York Film Academy. “NYFA was recommended to me by PJ Leonard, a film producer from Jersey City. I loved my time there. I took a 12-week acting course in 2010. My acting teacher, director, and comedian, Jessica Rotondi was a strong influence on me. I learned the importance of technique as well as being coachable and friendly while working on a project. I’ve taken those networking skills very far.”

    As for upcoming projects, Dan has two great projects in the works, Buzzkill Plam Beach and Cult of Blood. “I’m excited about these new films. Two very different parts but I pride myself as a versatile character actor, so I’m up for the challenge. In Buzzkill Palm Beach I play the second lead Jeff, a cool kind of dude alongside leading man & Director, Joe Vrola. It’s a sequel to The award-winning horror film Buzzkill New Jersey. We should start filming in November. It will be partially filmed on the Jersey Shore and mostly shot in West Palm Beach, Florida.  As for Cult of Blood, I’ll be playing a wild character named T-Rav, for the brilliant Director Robbie Lopez. That horror film shoots in Kansas City, Missouri in the Spring of 2021. It can be best described as Green Room meets From Dusk Till Dawn. It should be a wild ride.”

    I can say that I recently shot a gruesome horror short called Air B&D that will make its way to the film festival circuit soon. It’s a Jayleen S Perez film starring upcoming talent Molly Ester Wilson. The amazing Joey Mosca is a producer as well. I’ve worked with him on about 20 independent films so far. He can do it all on a film set. Also, I’m starring in a new Lance H Reja project called Not Alone with a gifted young Actress, Kristin Hutchins. Most notably, I will play a small role as Officer Barone in a psychological thriller called Mixxer. It’s currently in development starring Thomas O’Brian, Paul Mormando, and the amazing Tara Reid. I’m very excited about that. She is one of my favorite actresses.”

    In closing, Dan offered this advice to NYFA students and aspiring actors. “My best advice to NYFA students is to fully immerse yourself and have fun. I did well there because I wanted to be in class. I took several trains from Bayonne, NJ to Manhattan three times a week to be there. I tried to be the first person there and the last one to leave. I made a lot of friends in school. I had the time of my life. Our class became so friendly that we would often go out to party after. So, do the best work you can do at NYFA and make a lot of connections!”

    To keep up with all his latest projects visit Dan’s website. New York Film Academy wishes Dan Gregory continued success and can’t wait to see his upcoming projects.

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    November 3, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 432

  • 2020 Nordic International Film Festival Founded by NYFA Alumni Has Covid Safe Drive-In

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    Now in its 6th year, the Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) founded by New York Film Academy alumni Linnea Larsdotter and Johan Matton required some creative problem solving to pull of this year’s festival amid the COVID-19 global pandemic. The solution came in the form of a hybrid in-person and online experience where festival goers could attend drive-in screenings at The Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City as well as view films online.

    NIFF has always fostered lofty goals, aiming to nurture a mutual connection between the Nordic region and the international film community while also placing gender-equality and environmental sustainability at the center of their mission. The 2020 festival donated 50% of all online ticket sales to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

    The 2020 edition of the Nordic International Film Festival was held at the The Brooklyn Army Terminal Drive-In in NYC.

    Linnea Larsdotter and Johan Matton spoke about the unique challenges of this year’s festival. “We are extremely pleased to be able to pull off a safe event this year both online and with a drive-in cinema, thanks to the help from A24 and Rooftop Films. It’s been a challenging year for many and we are so impressed that so many incredible filmmakers have submitted and showcased that art and films are more important now than ever.”

    New York Film Academy renewed its partenrship with NIFF for the second year in a row awarding a four week scholarship to one of NYFA’s online programs to this year’s Aurora Borealis winner. NYFA President Michael Young expressed his congratulations to NYFA alumni Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter. “I’d like to congratulate our alumni Johan and Linnea on putting together another wonderful festival and working so hard to make it safe and accessible to everyone,”

    “Index” by Nicolas Kolovos garnered the director the Aurora Borealis award at this year’s festival.NIFF’s Aurora Borealis category is dedicated to up-and-coming filmmakers and Nicolas Kolovos who wrote and directed Index was selected as this yer’s winner. The short film is filmed in a single shot and tells of a family preparing to flee to Europe by boat when their young son’s finger gets stuck in the trailer of the truck transporting them. As time for the boat’s departure nears, the family has a terrifying decision to make.

    New York Film Academy congratulates NYFA alumni Johan Matton and Linnea Larsdotter on this year’s successful edition of NIFF as well as Aurora Borealis winner Nicolas Kolovos.

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    October 30, 2020 • Film Festivals, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 264

  • NYFA Alum Jaq Walker Talks South Beach and The Round Table Collective

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    Jaq Walker is a recent graduate of the BFA Acting for Film program at NYFA’s South Beach Campus. Walker who considers Memphis, Tennessee his home town grew up an army brat decided to attend New York Film Academy while he was serving in the United States Air Force in Italy. “I had a friend at the time tell me about it (NYFA) and it sounded like I had found my life after the military. A few years later, I noticed that I was burned out and no longer passionate about my military career and that’s when I  decided to let my superiors know that I was separating. My instincts led me to believe that I could make a better life through acting and creativity.” 

    His instincts led him to NYFA’s South Beach campus located in the heart of Miami. “Living in Miami, which is a growing market for the film industry, allowed me to venture outside of school projects and participate in local projects such as music videos and a couple of short films. The major highlight for me was when I got a crash course lesson as a film producer and as a casting director when myself and some of my classmates produced our own movie/tv show trailer concept called Shotgun. The purpose of producing this was to pitch it to showrunners and producers when an opportunity presented itself. Shotgun was filmed in just our second semester at the  NYFA acting program. We were hungry and talented individuals who wanted more than just classroom work.”

    "Shotgun" by The Round Table Collective

    Part of NYFA’s philosophy of learning by doing has students working with faculty members, all currently working in the industry, on a semi-individualized basis. This can have a profound and lasting impact on students, and that proved to be true for Jaq as well. “Patrice Arenas (NYFA acting for film instructor). She knocked me right out of my comfort zone and unshackled me when it came to performing different characters. She also gave a lot of  life lessons which only made me grow more as a human being.”

    During his time at NYFA, Jaq and four of his classmates created their very own industry network when they founded The Round Table Collective. “Five charismatic and artistic dudes: Tim Gray, Michael Bradway, Noel Cesar, Josh Reyes, and Yours Truly! We felt that in order to be successful in this industry you have to have a network of some kind. So when one of us is connected to a big production project, that would be an opportunity to refer one of the guys in the collective and promote their talents to producers, casting directors, and talent agents.  So when it’s known that Jaq Walker is associated with RTC (Round Table Collective), people would see our reputation as a whole and hopefully would want to do business with us. When one of us wins, we all win! Even though each of us has a different approach to creativity and different paths through life, we all have one common goal and that is to be impactful and influential in this industry.” 

    In honing his acting skills Jaq developed his desire to be challenged and expand his repertoire. “I’ve been called a ‘character actor’, a ‘throwback actor’ and I’ve been called a ‘Chekhov-style actor.’ These are all true descriptions of me but I feel that I’m just a storyteller with a big and vivid imagination. Most of the roles that I play and have played are alpha-male authority figures which I’m very happy to play. But I’m wanting to step into darker roles in psychological thrillers and I would like to play roles where I could perform as the ‘down on his luck’ Joe Blow/victim of society.”

    Jaq has worked to expand his skillset and put it use by writing his own projects. “During my time at NYFA, I was able to better my writing. So naturally, I like to create and produce my own material and create my own characters. I did so recently when I wrote a concept trailer for myself  called ‘The Janitor.’ It’s based on a character I created and was inspired by the  COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve already shot  and produced the trailer so right now it’s in post-production.”

    Jaq Walker in a scene of The Red State

    Jaq Walker in a scene of “The Red State”

    Jaq recently appeared in the sci-fi series The Red State and plans to continue his career in London while he seeks out his Master’s degree. As for some parting advice to NYFA students and aspiring artists, Jaq had this to say, “Network, Network, and Network. Meet and get to know other creatives on campus and in the local area. Apply what you learn at the school into creating your own stuff while in school. Don’t let it interfere with your classroom assignments but establish yourself as an actor or filmmaker early on in your NYFA journey.” 

    New York Film Academy wishes Jaq Walker continued success in his future endeavors and can’t wait to see what comes next!

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    October 29, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 548

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alum Alessandro Marcon Debuts Short Film “Anemone” at Italy’s Prestigious Trieste Science + Fiction Festival

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    Italian native Alessandro Marcon grew up in the small town of Conegliano, just one hour away from Venice, and had big dreams of becoming a film director. After attending Graphic Design school at ISSM San Marco, Marcon got his start in filmmaking, creating comedy sketches with his schoolmates. “I was in a boarding school (because I lived far away) where we were not allowed to go out. This way we had plenty of time to kill, so we thought ‘why not making some movies?’”

    NYFA alum Alessandro Marcon

    After Graphic Design school ended, Marcon decided to make his dreams come true and become a filmmaker, enrolling at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus in Burbank in a 1-Year Filmmaking Conservatory program.

    “Since then, it’s been a roller coaster ride,” revealed Marcon. “The experience made me see the world from a different perspective. Suddenly, a ton of challenges hit me all at once, making me change and mature into who I am today.” 

    Film poster for “Anemone”

    Marcon has gone on to work on films and music videos, with his latest project being a short film he directed, wrote, produced, edited, and shares a co-cinematographer credit on called Anemone. The 16-minute sci-fi short film was shot on the white peaks of the Dolomites, located in the Eastern Alps. “We worked during winter in places with over 10 feet of snow. It was cold and very difficult to shoot in these conditions,” revealed Marcon. “Some of us literally had blood coming out of our hands or suffered in the below-zero temperatures.”

    In the end, Marcon and his team managed to pull off their short film and are premiering it on October 31, 2020, at the prestigious Trieste Science + Fiction Festival, known for being an important festival in Italy for genre films in particular. “We couldn’t be happier to be there telling what an incredible journey has been,” shared Marcon.

    Alessandro Marcon behind the scenes filming in the Dolomites

    As for what the filmmaker has learned while living out his dream of directing, Marcon shares that it’s all about communication. “I was already good at a lot of technical aspects of filmmaking (not everything, and I’ve still learned a lot), but not really good at talking with people,” revealed Marcon. “I was closed in myself and this translated also on the narratives of my stories. I’m still learning a lot in this field, but if I didn’t come here [to NYFA], all of this would not have happened.”

    New York Film Academy congratulates Filmmaking alum, Alessandro Marcon, on the premiere of his new film Anemone and looks forward to what is next from the NYFA alum. 

    Anemone will premiere in the U.S. on November 12, 2020, at the Arpa Film Festival

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    October 29, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 650

  • NYFA Alum David Oulton’s Talk Show “Face to Face with David” to Premiere Season 2 on Amazon Prime

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    New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum David Oulton is set to premiere the second season of his show Face to Face with David on Amazon Prime Video. 

    The show’s creation is a direct result of the restrictions set in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. “It came out of boredom during COVID. I’m sitting up here in Calgary, Canada losing my mind during the lockdown. I started mulling around with the idea of posting some FaceTime videos on social media, in line with what everyone else had been doing on Instagram and Facebook Live. Then it blew up and within about a week I had signed an agreement with Amazon, started hiring a crew, and it’s been a wild ride since. From conception to airing, the whole turnaround was less than two months and we’ve managed to pull it off.” 

    The objective of the talk show is pure entertainment. “I hope it brings them (the audience) a laugh or two and a quick escape from all the dreadful news we are being bombarded with lately. The concept of the show was to make the viewers feel as though they are listening in on a casual conversation between two people, and less of a formal interview. With a couple of exceptions, we mostly steered away from current events as well. It’s meant to be a half an hour of relaxing, easy watching tv to give yourself a little break.” 

    “Face to Face with David” is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video

    Face to Face with David follows a talk show format and features notable guests such as Carson Kressley and Perez Hilton. David spoke of his process for acquiring his big-name guests. “With Carson and Perez, I had built a relationship with via social media. Ironically, they were a couple of the biggest names in season one, but the easiest and most down to earth to get on the show. Carson, for example, said to just text him on the day of filming and let him know when to be ready. Vernee Watson and Lawrence Pressman, both extremely accomplished and award-winning actors, I have known for a very long time. Vernee was absolutely hilarious in sharing her time at the Emmy’s and what it’s like behind the scenes.” The show also featured one of David’s acting instructors at NYFA. “Valorie Hubbard taught me at NYFA, so it was great having her on and to catch up. She’s been a constant mentor since I did the acting program, and we’ve kept in touch. Most of the other guests were booked through their managers of publicists with the producers on the show. We have a really great team in place.” 

    Carson Kressly on “Face to Face with David”

    David attended an Acting for Film Camp for Teens in Los Angeles back in 2010 after he received advice from an acting legend. “I came under the advice of Dame Judi Dench, who first suggested I find a great school in Los Angeles, especially since I was living in northern Canada at the time. After some research and visiting a few places, NYFA seemed to be the best suited.” He has since gone on to work on many successful productions. “Since NYFA, I’ve done about 15 film and television projects: Fargo, Galaxy Trek, Guns of Purgatory, The Agreement. But this show is definitely becoming bigger than anything I’ve done before for me personally.” 

    Of his time in the industry so far David said, I’ve learned to enjoy the process, but also to put the work in. If you show up to set prepared, knowing not only your lines but also your character and their story, the work is so much more fulfilling.”

    He also encourages aspiring visual and performing artists to invest in their future and take a chance on their dreams. “I think that if anyone is reading the post and considering NYFA, and they’re from a small or remote part of the world or they have no experience, think about the fact that I came down from Fort McMurray, Canada with nothing but a couple of high school plays under my belt. If I can take what I learned during my course and eventually get my own talk show, airing around the world on multiple networks, then I think anyone should and can take the chance. You really never know until you hit that ‘submit’ button on the application, and then the possibilities are endless.” 

    Perez Hilton on Face to Face with David

    As for a wish list of future guests, Oulten said he simply hopes to continue to provide quality entertainment. “Honestly, I don’t think I have a true ‘wish list’. I’m really just happy that anyone is taking the time to do our show and be authentic with their interviews. Perez was so fantastic, and really shared a lot of personal details which I wasn’t expecting. His interview was definitely a highlight for me. The second season is set to feature Vanessa Williams, Natasha Henstridge, Melissa Rivers, Pamela Rabe, Corbin Bernsen, Below Deck Med’s Captain Sandy, Ali Landry, and a host of other guests.  

    NYFA would like to wish David Oulton the very best on his second season of Face to Face with David which premiers on November 6, 2020 on Amazon Prime Video. The first season is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and Google Play.

    This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2064

  • NYFA Welcomes Actor & Director Mark Webber to ‘Q&A-List’ Guest Speaker Series

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) was excited to host a virtual Q&A with actor and director Mark Webber to discuss directing his latest film The Place of No Words with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of NYFA’s Q&A-List Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Webber has been nominated for multiple awards for directing and acting. He is known for roles in films such as Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, A24’s Green Room, Gus Van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, and more. He has also come into his own as a fully-fledged director with his fifth film as director, The Place of No Words, receiving ‘Best Film’ at the Giffoni Film Festival and nominations at Tribeca Film Festival, Munich Film Festival, and the Philadelphia Film Festival.

    Webber’s unique, realistic approach to authentic storytelling began with his first feature, Explicit Ills, where he used elements from his real life and included family members in his cast. He has since cast all his movies that way.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Mark Webber (Right) for NYFA’s Q&A List

    Webber, who shared he was happy to be talking online with NYFA’s students, recalled his upbringing with his teenage single mother and growing up homeless, citing that as a filmmaker he benefited from how he was raised as it allowed him to connect with different groups of people in the community. “These are the things I care about most in my life and I know how grateful I am to be in this position [an actor/director] because I know how vapid the industry can be.”

    The NYFA students and Laiter praised Webber for his recent film and asked him multiple questions about directing, his original filmmaking style, and honing his craft. “I started this process called ‘reality cinema.’ After screening my previous film, The End of Love at Sundance, I felt like I really found my voice. I am particularly fascinated by realism and acting in my own films. I paralleled a moment in the film where I cast my real father, who I hadn’t seen in years, in a scene where we meet face-to-face in real-time. It is deeply fulfilling to get to work on things with people you love.”

    Still from ‘The Place of No Words’ – Mark Webber (Left) and Bodhi Palmer (Right)

    The Place of No Words, in which a three-year-old (played by his son Bodhi Palmer) take a fantastical journey into the wood, to grapples with his father’s (Webber) terminal illness – something he cannot make sense of in real-world terms. his wife, Australian actress Teresa Palmer plays the mother- a real family affair.

    Laiter, who remarked how incredible Bodhi was in the film, asked Webber about directing and being a dad at the same time while on set and working alongside his family. “I can never stop being a dad. I have my dad hat on at all times and Bodhi’s emotional well-being and safety is the top priority for me,” he shared. “Some of the scenes, we would shoot as improv. There are moments of takes with that spontaneity anchored in the framework of the context of the story, so it allows for these moments that feel so authentic and so real take place in this film.”

    The film, part real and part fantasy, creates a colorful world for a child to begin to understand the biggest question of all, “Where do we go when we die?” Webber explained that he wanted the fantasy elements to still feel like reality. “I wanted it to honor the way I see my child’s mind working. So many of the fantasy elements there are from stories that Bodhi and I would tell each other and from stories I tell my own children.”

    Webber’s film pays off, being hailed by the likes of Variety and The New York Times calling it “sweet and personal.”

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actor and director Mark Webber for sharing his directing experience with NYFA students and alumni and encourages everyone to check out his beautiful and emotionally rich film, The Place of No Words, now available to watch on Amazon Prime, Google Play, and other streaming service providers.

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    October 28, 2020 • Acting • Views: 326

  • NYFA Alum Matthew Avery Berg Screens ‘Accomplice’ in National Film Festival for Talented Youth

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    Science fiction has a unique ability to drop audiences into a futuristic or unrealistic world and make us think beyond the realm of our everyday existence. In writing and directing his sci-fi short Accomplice, however, NYFA alum Matthew Avery Berg drew from a real, personal crisis to create his fictional story that takes place in the distant future. Crickett Rumley, NYFA’s Director of Film Festivals, spoke with Matthew as the film became available for online streaming as an official selection of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), running October 23 – November 1, 2020. 

    Crickett Rumley (CR): Congratulations on getting into NFFTY! Tell us more about Accomplice.  

    Matthew Avery Berg (MAB): Accomplice is about a man who’s forced to experience the memories of the person he accidentally killed. It takes place inside a medical compound in the year 2067. The sci-fi elements are obviously not inspired by true events; however, the underlying story is. Following my first surgery, I was constantly on opioids for a week. Being doped up for that long disassociated me from reality and my own mind. I’d start speaking to myself like I was two different people. However, it also led me to reflect on my life. I’d whisper confessions and admit things that I had been in self-denial about.

    Accomplice follows a man whose mind is inhabited by two different people following surgery. The new person in his head forces him to do an introspection on both their lives. It allows the protagonist to finally acknowledge his guilt the same way recovering from surgery had forced me to recognize my own…over way less dramatic things though, of course.

    Film poster for Matthew Avery Berg’s ‘Accomplice’

    My direction of the film was shaped by the health issues I was dealing with while still raising the financing. The prior summer, in 2018, I had progressively become more nauseous each night. Soon I realized that whenever I closed my eyes and avoided light my nausea improved. This feeling, which had previously only lasted a few hours at night, had become a 24/7 occurrence. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat. I lost fifteen pounds in two weeks. Before undergoing an MRI, I concluded that I was dying. I was relieved to learn that I had a benign cyst in my brain. Yet, disturbingly this clue only brought more mystery and fear as I grew too sick to walk. Finally, doctors discovered that I suffered from a rare condition called “status migrainosus.” Essentially, an everlasting migraine.

    Despite the diagnosis, no neurologist could provide a cure. I took steroids and tried a variety of medications, but as some symptoms disappeared, others emerged. Two weeks later, I experienced constant vertigo, tingling throughout my body, and unbearable indigestion. I spent each day trying to distract myself until I could be sedated in hopes of waking up better the next day. This cycle continued for months, forcing me to postpone shooting an earlier version of my film.

    NYFA alum Matthew Avery Berg (Right) 

    CR: That sounds so painful and challenging. How did this crisis impact your work on the film?

    MAB: It dawned on me there was not much difference between this character suffering from external and intruding memories and me battling these strange ailments. I rewrote the script to incorporate the way I dealt with my pain as a sci-fi thriller. 

    Six months later, in every meeting with the cinematographer, we used the word “migraine” almost as much as “camera.” I instructed him which parts I wanted to feel like a migraine. In one scene, I inserted flashing lights. In another scene, I added other bright lights, and in additional scenes, we used a handheld to simulate vertigo.

    CR: What was your favorite thing about making this film?

    MAB: Seeing the (almost) finished film for the first time on the mixing stage was my favorite thing about making this movie. Although the VFX had not been added in and the color wasn’t confirmed, it was amazing to see what I had been trying to get made since sophomore year of high school play on a big screen for the first time. My producer, who had been very critical of the project up until that point – as was his job – whispered during the fade to black, “that’s awesome”. It took me a second to realize he was talking about our movie. I don’t care what anyone says, nothing is more satisfying in the process of making a film than seeing the finished product.

    CR: What was the most challenging thing about making the film?  What did you learn in the process? 

    MAB: I’d say the biggest challenge was being able to film a high-quality production with as many moving pieces and locations as this project had written. High concept sci-fi is not meant for a short film budget. I was having to rewrite in my head while we were shooting to make our tight schedule and budget work. Although I accomplished what I had set out to, there is a reason I kept my latest project to just two people in a tattooing session. While I do not believe films should be written for the sake of accommodating their budget, I now definitely think about how much a concept could cost to produce before choosing to write it. If you write an amazing space-traveling epic, you’re only doing your story a disservice by making it for $10,000.

    Still from ‘Accomplice’

    CR: What are you looking forward to in your screening with NFFTY? Are any of their masterclasses or programming looking interesting to you? 

    MAB: I’m looking forward to being able to interact with my fellow filmmakers in the same age group as me even if online. Everyone I work with tends to be at least nine years older, so I love the idea of being able to meet other people my own age with the same standard of quality to potentially collaborate with. All of the programming and masterclasses at NFFTY look amazing. However, despite what you may assume from watching my film, I’m most excited to watch the Dynamic Duos section. So much of being young and growing up is about the friendships we make and maintain. If there is a genre I feel that youth filmmakers have the most legitimate truth to share in, it is the buddy film.

    CR: Which festivals have you been in so far with Accomplice? What was that experience like?

    MAB: This has been more than a weird year for festivals. A lot of the festivals have either been postponed or canceled for 2020. However, there have been some other great ones we’ve been able to be a part of so far. We were an official selection at Dances With Films, which had an amazing virtual experience featuring some of the greatest panels I’ve had the chance to listen to. We are also an official selection at FilmQuest and won the shorts category at Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival. Unfortunately, FilmQuest has been postponed to 2021 and we were not able to attend Buffalo Dreams due to the pandemic. However, I had a student film as an official selection at Cinequest a couple of years ago and highly recommend that one. That festival gets up to 100,000 attendees, and the industry networking events are just one of the amazing aspects of that superb festival. Still waiting for the notification date for that one. 

    Accomplice was also invited to be part of Hollyshorts’ Monthly Screening Series on Bitpix.

    CR: You’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since you were four years old, and you started attending NYFA Tween Digital programs when you were in the fifth grade.  How do you think your education and the work you did here prepared you for a career in filmmaking?

    MAB: I did the 12-week Saturday program for three semesters, so for 36 Saturdays I would come and take 6-8 hours of classes throughout the school year in all aspects of filmmaking. I would shoot projects on the Universal Backlot as a ten-year-old. In all honesty, my education at NYFA was essential to preparing me as a filmmaker. I learned everything there was to learn about filmmaking without doing it professionally.

    With that being said, you don’t learn the other 75% until you get actual experience directing on professional sets.

    Still from ‘Accomplice’

    CR: So true. What have you been up to since then? 

    MAB: Since I graduated from my high school, Harvard-Westlake in Los Angeles, in June of 2019, I have been writing and directing professional short films. Although I was supposed to go to USC starting this semester, I ended up dropping due to the opportunities I was beginning to be handed. Accomplice started getting me attention from executives in the industry who wanted to mentor me and to fund my projects.

    I was offered carte blanche creative control of a fully-financed short film with Academy Award Nominee Eric Roberts, as well as producers inquiring about financing a feature with me directing. I was also being set up with some really big directors to shadow. Although COVID put a halt on the shadowing gigs and the feature offers, I was still able to direct the film with Eric Roberts.

    CR: That’s cool! What was the experience like?  

    MAB: It was a magical shoot. LA Ink’s Dan Smith, a celebrity tattoo artist, and musician was involved with the project and did all our tattooing inserts. Richard Patrick of Filter and Nine Inch Nails is slated to compose for it. It’s so awesome to be working with someone who I grew up listening to. The producer on the project is R. Andru Davies whose last feature film with Karen Gillian was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA and a British Independent Film Award. He’s also executive producing Stan Lee’s ArchAlien. The film is currently in post.

    CR: What else do you have coming up? 

    MAB: The next step is a feature film! I’m currently working on a script for what I think could be a great first feature, but I’d be willing to do anything that was offered to me as long as it has the potential to be amazing. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Tween Digital Program alum Matthew Avery Berg for taking the time to talk with us about his film and emerging career. From October 23 through November 1, 2020, Accomplice can be viewed on-demand as a “pay what you can” event. On Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT, it will live stream in the Salient Simulations Watch Party, followed by a live Q&A with Matthew and other filmmakers.

    Follow Matthew on Instagram @matthew_a_berg.

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    October 27, 2020 • Film Festivals, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 394

  • NYFA Stories: Recent Top 10

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    It’s the most wonderful time of the year…well almost. Netflix has recently announced the upcoming release of holiday musical feature film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey (Jingle Jangle), starring Forest Whitaker, Keegan-Michael Key, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Hugh Bonneville, and more. NYFA alum Francesco Panzieri served as the compositing supervisor for the upcoming film, set to be released on November 13, 2020. Read more…


    The Nordic International Film Festival (NIFF) is holding its 6th edition and, like many festivals this year, has had to re-invent the festival experience due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Founders and NYFA alumni Linnea Larsdotter and Johan Matton devised a hybrid in-person and online experience where festival goers could attend drive-in screenings being held at The Brooklyn Army Terminal in New York City, as well as view films online. Read more…


    Out of 18 nominated shows, leading the pack of nominations is the Alanis Morissette musical Jagged Little Pill with 15 nominations, earning at least one nomination in every eligible category. The heavily-nominated production was produced by NYFA Musical Theatre alumni Chase Thomas and Yael Silver. A Christmas Carol, also produced by NYFA alum Chase Thomas, received nods for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre, Best Scenic Design of a Play, Best Costume Design of a Play, Best Lighting Design of a Play, and Best Sound Design of a Play. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the honor of hosting a live video Q&A with award-winning and celebrated actor Alec Baldwin to discuss the acting craft with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event. Read more…


    Filmmaking alum Pavitra Chalam co-directs the new, inspirational documentary Rooting For Roona about a child named Roona with an advanced form of hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the brain resulting in an enlarged head and can also cause brain damage. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Francesca Scorsese stars as Britney in Luca Guadagnino’s new miniseries We Are Who We Are for HBO. Scorsese’s character is described as an outspoken character in the main friend group that the show centers on. Read more…


    Having already graduated with a BFA in Producing for Film & TV from the New York Film Academy, South African native Thandiwe Mlauli has announced an upcoming project called SOLA. It will be South Africa’s first independently produced and women-led afro-animation, with Mlauli acting as producer, director and showrunner through her animation company Studio Yezi. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is proud to share that Photography alum Jon Henry has been featured in the October 2020 issue of National Geographic (“Nat Geo”).

    Henry, who previously won photography’s most prestigious honors—the Film Photo Award—for his series Stranger Fruit, had his photographs from the series displayed on multiple pages in the Nat Geo issue. The series itself incorporates Michelangelo’s Pietà as a response to the ongoing, senseless murders of African American men by police officers across the United States, Henry shared. Read more…


    New York Film Academy (NYFA) is thrilled to announce that Filmmaking alum Antonio Campos’ upcoming film The Devil All The Time has been released by Netflix.

    The film, co-written and directed by Campos, boasts a star-studded cast including Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Jason Clarke, Bill Skarsgård, and many more. The film follows a backwards preacher (Pattinson) and the other seemingly tainted cast of characters as they converge around the orbit of young Arvin Russell (Holland) and his family. Read more…


    of the long-anticipated films of the summer, Bill & Ted Face The Music, starring Keanu Reeves (John Wick) and Alex Winter (The Lost Boys) was released everywhere on VOD and in select cinemas on August 28, 2020, with NYFA alum Alex Lebovici as a producer. Read more…


    This was last updated October 27, 2020

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    October 27, 2020 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 229

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alum George Carson on the Challenges and Rewards From Creating His First Feature Film ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

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    It can be tough and challenging to create any kind of film for the first time, but especially your first feature film. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum George Carson caught up with NYFA to discuss what it was like to create his first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and gave realistic insight into the challenging, but rewarding, process of filmmaking.

    NYFA Acting for Film alum George Carson

    Carson retired from the UK Fire and Rescue service in early 2015. It was then that he decided to pursue a professional career in acting and filmmaking. After studying at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and pursuing other workshops, Carson realized he wanted to specifically tap into Acting for Film. “I was already aware of NYFA but at that time never dreamed I would go there. I was over the moon to be accepted a year before I was due to retire and  I couldn’t wait to get away from the Fire Service and live in NYC,” shared Carson.

    While at NYFA, Carson recalls bonding with many of his classmates and how they made the short film The Evanescence while at school together. “The whole NYFA experience was just fantastic,” shared Carson. “The instructors had a wealth of real-life experience, unlike some ‘Drama’ teachers who have never been outside a classroom. The facilities were great and the interaction of the Actors course working with the Filmmaking course meant we had a whole bunch of new friends and collaborators.”

    Film poster for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    Carson’s latest film and first feature, GetMeLovedUp.com, which he wrote, directed, produced, and acted in, has been submitted to various film festivals around the world and has already received several awards. The film follows lead characters Sharon and Kevin, who find themselves under pressure from friends and family to find a partner and sign up for an internet dating site. 

    “The inspiration was easy. I had been chatting to a friend in Glasgow one night and she told me about a particularly awful story that had happened to her on a date via an online dating agency,” explained Carson. “We then both shared funny stories about people we had met on these dates. I joked that I should write a film about it and a few months later the script was finished.”

    Carson shared that he had a vision for how he wanted to block the film (image below):

    But don’t let the blocking fool you. The wedding (Seen above) is not actually the lead couple. “For the film, I tried to make sure I avoided all the usual clichés,” shared Carson.

    On the challenges of making a feature film, Carson shared that it can be very different from making a short film. “The casting alone was a far bigger challenge than I imagined it would be. It took months and a considerable amount of time to cast the roles. It is an immense job,” he explained.

    George Carson blocking the scene for ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum funded the entire film himself, so the project was working on a microbudget to produce the film and ensure the cast and crew got paid. “It meant having to do all the work ourselves. Meticulous planning and preparation were required at every step otherwise money would be wasted.” 

    Also an actor in the film, Carson shared that understanding the skills needed in front of the camera is just as important for directors to understand as well as actors. “Giving direction is all about clear communication with everyone,” shared Carson. “I don’t think a director necessarily needs a deep understanding of the actor’s craft, but there does need to be an understanding of the skill and directors need to be able to communicate clearly what they would like the actor to do performance-wise. Every word in every line can be delivered in about a million different ways.”

    “For example, the line ‘I will really miss you.’ The director has to let the actor know what they are looking for here. Will the character really miss them or is the character glad they’re leaving?

     

    An actor can say, ‘I will really miss you’ to a character on-screen with great meaning but, at the same time, the director can let the audience know that they actually hate the other character. It is this quality that a director has to tap into.”

    As for what incoming NYFA students should tap into when coming to study at NYFA, Carson says it’s all about studying, working, and learning from yourself and by others the mistakes that are made along the way. “There are very few overnight success stories. Acting and Directing are skills that can be taught and learned. Do the work and don’t worry about failing. Just get on with it. I could talk to you and show you YouTube videos about how to drive a car. But you still need to take the keys and get into that car and drive for yourself to be able to learn how to actually do it.” 

    Behind the scenes of ‘GetMeLovedUp.com’

    The NYFA alum is set to appear in a few upcoming films that have been halted due to the Coronavirus pandemic and shared that GetMeLovedUp.com is expected to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray soon. The film can currently be found on Reveel.

    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Filmmaking alum George Carson on his outstanding achievement of first feature film GetMeLovedUp.com and encourages everyone to check out the film when it becomes available and for upcoming projects from the Filmmaking alum.

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    October 27, 2020 • Acting, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 551