Author archives

  • New York Film Academy Students Premiere New Web Series


    When nine students in a New York Film Academy acting class met this past September, there was an immediate chemistry between them. The students, who were all passionate about helping further each others careers and getting opportunities to collaborate outside class, came up with new web series Losing Ground.

    Losing Ground follows 12 young people from all over the globe tackling relationships, careers, and belief systems in the city. Though the show only premiered this past week, the pilot has already had almost 1000 views in three days! New York Film Academy took the opportunity to catch up with the creators (all current NYFA students), including Producer Liana Afuni and Writer Tom Machell.

    Losing Ground

    Where did the idea for Losing Ground come from?

    The idea for this web-series started as a result of wanting to involve all nine class members that were a part of a September Acting Conservatory Program at The New York Film Academy in New York. The nine of us had such incredible chemistry as an ensemble, and we were all passionate to help each other further our careers. We worked on a lot of improvisational work in our Acting Technique class led by John Desiderio. John always said that in all of his years of teaching, he has never seen such a group work so well together. Once we knew that we wanted to develop a web-series, we approached John and asked him if he’d be interested in directing it for us. As a result of that, a lot of the scenes in this series are based off of improvisational work. The ideas for some of the stories are a result of collaborative input from members of the cast. The ideas were taken and further developed by our screenwriter (and current NYFA student), Tom Machell.

    We were thinking up themes for a web-series that would resonate with people of our age (18-25), which is that of “identity crisis” – Hence, the name “Losing Ground” which is synonymous to a loss of identity or a crisis. We all come from different backgrounds, and wanted to use that as part of our stories. We are not fabricating our nationalities in this series, everyone is sticking true to their native background. We used our backgrounds to our advantage, which further aided some characters in Losing Ground.

    How did the rest of the cast and crew get involved?

    As we developed the series, the nine of us needed additional cast members to complete some of our stories. This led to us casting three additional primary parts. Since this idea was started by NYFA acting students, we utilized other NYFA students for additional roles.

    Our director, John Desiderio is a faculty member at NYFA. He instructed September Section F for Acting Technique. When we presented him with the idea of starting a web-series, he was totally on board and has been a critical element to the entire project.

    How has the process of actually filming the series been?

    The process of filming the series, as is any project in life, has its ups and downs. Fortunately though we fostered a positive energy and understanding among our cast and crew that has allowed us to overcome some of our difficulties. The New York Film Academy has been incredibly supportive – special thanks to Acting Chair Glenn Kalison for taking an interest in the project and providing us with the necessary equipment for shooting.

    The one crucial factor, aside from support, that has allowed us to continue with this project is the dedication of all those involved. The cast members who are not due to shoot on a particular day are called in as helpers on set. Our process is immensely collaborative. The glue that holds us together is our collaboration and teamwork. Although we have delegated tasks to specific people, we still reach out to each other for help, solutions and ideas.


    April 20, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4698

  • New York Film Academy Acting Graduate Growing an Impressive Resume in Italy


    Jacopo Sarno

    New York Film Academy four week acting workshop graduate Jacopo Sarno, has been growing an impressive resume since returning to Italy. Jacopo recently played a main role in Italian Christmas comedy A Natale Mi Sposo. The film was released throughout Italy and beat Harry Potter in sales before Christmas. He is now shooting TV series Non Smettere di Sognare, which he describes as “Glee in Italian.” Jacopo plays the guitarist of a band on the show, which will air weekly on Canale5 National TV.

    Non Smettere di Sognare

    Outside his film and television appearances, Jacopo did voice overs at a 3D Expo in the Roman Forum last month celebrating 150 years of the Italian Unity. He also wrote, sang and produced the song “This Is Christmas”, which has been selling well on iTunes. All proceeds are donated to an association that gives medical care to children in Madagascar.

    What does Jacopo hope to do next? “I’m trying to find a way to come back to NYFA. I would really love to attend [another] program and work hard to improve my skills.”


    April 14, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4437

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Michael Pfleghar Directing Commercials in Norway


    Michael Pfleghar“At New York Film Academy, the classrooms feel like production offices.”

    – Michael Pfleghar, graduate of New York Film Academy

    Michael Pfleghar enrolled in New York Film Academy’s twelve-week evening filmmaking course in 2004. He now directs two films a month for a production company in Norway including commercials for web and television. Read what Michael had to say about his experiences in the industry since graduating from New York Film Academy.

    How did you first choose New York Film Academy?

    I wanted to direct since I was very young, probably 8 years old. I already had some experience working as a gaffer back home in Norway and thought it was time to go to film school after working for many years in the business. So I googled film school, and NYFA popped up. I always loved California so it was an easy choice.

     Michael Pfleghar directing a photoshoot

    Michael directs an actress on a photoshoot

    What was your final short film about? 

    My thesis film was called Fastfinger. It was a short with no sound shot on the arriflex 16mm. The film was a western, but with cell phones instead of guns. The characters had a duel and the one who managed to call the woman in the bar first won.

    Was your education at New York Film Academy helpful in getting a job after graduation?

    Well, just the name NYFA in Universal Studios looks very good on paper. I already had some contacts in the business from working as a gaffer in Norway. I called some of the producers I knew and showed them my New York Film Academy short.

    It did take a while before someone actually gave me a chance to direct a small budget commercial. It started off with intern movies for companies. Then web commercials. And in the end, finally a commercial for television. After I did one commercial on television, it started rolling. I am now signed to a production company in Norway and shooting 1-2 films a month.

     Michael Pfleghar directing a project in Norway

    Michael directs a project in Norway

    Are you working on your own projects outside of commercials?

    I am working on a comedy script right now. I have been working on it for 6 years. I am still working on getting it financed. I already got some of the money I need but these things can take forever. That is probably the project I am most proud of – I just haven’t made it yet.

    What advice do you have for someone considering a program at New York Film Academy?

    Do it. You meet and work with great people and open-minded teachers who provide good influence on your student films. The classrooms feel like production offices and not classrooms.

    It’s always nice to have experience from the business before starting film school, but at New York Film Academy you learn really quickly from day one in a hands-on environment. That is the best training, and NYFA gives you exactly that!


    April 5, 2011 • Acting • Views: 8842

  • Chord Overstreet: From New York Film Academy to Glee


    Chord Overstreet is the new heartthrob of primetime TV.

    Sam Evans and Quinn Fabray

    Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) sing a duet on Glee

    Chord, who stars as Sam Evans on ABC’s Glee, has broken into the industry with his singing, dancing, and “trouty mouth” as Glee characters Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) and Santana Lopez (NYFA Screenwriting alum Naya Rivera) vie for his heart.

    Photo of Chord Overstreet

    Chord Overstreet received his training in September 2008 at New York Film Academy’s Four Week Acting Workshop. He is now slated to star with Ashley Green (Twilight) in the soon to be released A Warrior’s Heart. Says Chord on his recent success and all the fans that come with Glee: “I just don’t know what to expect, you know? It’s going to be fun though.”


    April 4, 2011 • Acting • Views: 7449

  • Clark Gable’s Grandson: New York Film Academy Helped Me Build My Confidence


    Clark James Gable III, grandson of Clark Gable

    Clark James Gable III is on the horizon of making it big. The 22-year-old actor is the grandson of legendary Gone with the Wind actor Clark Gable, once nicknamed “The King of Hollywood.” A spitting image of his celebrated actor Grandfather, Clark is now making his move into the Hollywood spotlight, appearing in a layout in the April issue of Los Angeles Magazine.

    Clark James Gable poses in front of an illustration of actor grandfather Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind

    Clark, who received his training at the New York Film Academy, took at minute to catch up with the NYFA blog between photo-shoots, auditions, and prep for his feature film shooting abroad.  Check out what Clark had to say about New York Film Academy, his upcoming projects, and living with a famous name in Hollywood.

    Clark, how did you first get involved with the New York Film Academy?

    A friend I met through my manager knew Jean Sherlock, Director of New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles location.  After hearing about the program for a month, Jean invited me to visit the New York Film Academy and audit classes. It was amazing. By the end of the day, I had enrolled in a four-week acting for film workshop.

    How was the experience?

    The classes were phenomenal, especially acting for film and audition technique. In a short time, I learned a lot about myself. I also learned how to interpret what’s behind the text.

    Had you already been auditioning prior to enrolling in the academy?

    I’ve always modeled and been in front of cameras.  Acting, outloud, is completely different and I felt I needed courses in order to move ahead.   I had gone on several auditions but the New York Film Academy helped me gain confidence and feel more positive in an audition room. I am able to focus and not worry as much in an audition, and I have booked several projects as a result.

    Clark in an ad for Converse

    That’s terrific! What are the projects?

    I am one of the leads on a surf show pilot filming in Malibu. It is a hybrid docuseries about two rival surf shops. My character works in the surf shop Clout, which I actually worked in growing up. That helped me get into character quickly. The improv classes I took at New York Film Academy also helped me learn how to be natural in an improv situation wherein producers and director expected me to take a lead.

    And you are filming abroad as well?

    Yes, for a feature I just booked. I will spend 4-6 weeks filming abroad. I play a lead character hoping to propose to his girlfriend overseas.  When my little brother tags along to document the trip for a college project things start to go terribly wrong.

    Are you stopping classes to film?

    I actually completed the four-week New York Film Academy workshop and loved it so much that I enrolled in the twelve-week evening acting for film workshop. I will go on hiatus to film the feature abroad but will be returning to classes at the New York Film Academy immediately when I get back.

    Wow, you are busy. Any other projects you are working on?

    I’m filming a documentary called Finding Gable that traces my footsteps through the acting career I am just starting. I am finding out more about the lineage of my grandfather and the impact he made on people’s lives and in film history. The New York Film Academy has been incredibly supportive, providing consultation on the story and equipment for the project. Without them, I don’t think I would have been able to move forward. We hope to complete the documentary by September 2012.

    Any advice you have for our readers or prospective students?

    Be open and committed to anything the New York Film Academy throws at you. Get out of your head and just try to leave your comfort zone.  It’s an amazing program. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to do the audition for the feature without New York Film Academy.  I was able to build my confidence, learn direction and, in this case, make the character my own, which the Director noticed and loved.


    April 1, 2011 • Acting • Views: 8353

  • Former NFL Player Simeon Rice shows New York Film Academy Short Film at Gasparilla International Film Festival


    Former NFL player Simeon Rice, 37, is breaking into a new industry after taking a year long film-making program with the New York Film Academy. Simeon, who stimulated NFL defensive lines for more than a decade including playing in the Superbowl, decided to attend New York Film Academy’s program at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and try his hand at directing. His short film When I was King showed this past week in the Gasparilla International Film Festival. Says Simeon on his decision to direct a film:

    “I think in 3-D already. I already thought in motion pictures. That’s where it all came from, visual stimulation.”

    Simeon wrote, cast and directed the film. Comments actress Cara Picton, “It was a very professional shoot. you don’t always get that with new filmmakers. Simeon knew how to steer us in the right direction.”

    Photo of Simeon Rice

    Jokes Simeon Rice, “I loved football. That’s my true love. This [filmmaking] is my mistress.”

    What’s up next for Simeon? “My next film is a Zombie film. It’ll be crazy entertaining…It’s about a town that runs out of water. It’s called ‘Thirst.’”


    March 31, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4514

  • Two Time Emmy Nominee and Grey’s Anatomy/West Wing Producer Debora Cahn Visits New York Film Academy


    Debora Cahn

    “You have zero control over if you are talented. You just have control over how hard you work. Don’t wait to be inspired.” – Debora Cahn

    Students at New York Film Academy New York had the pleasure of listening to an unscripted conversation between two time Emmy nominee Debora Cahn and NYFA Producing School Chair Anita Tovich on March 24, 2011. Debora, who has been a Producer and Writer on Grey’s Anatomy, The West Wing, and Private Practice, spoke very candidly about the nature of working in television versus film, the environment while working on a top series, and ways to break into the industry.

    Says Debora, who began in acting and turned to writing when she was frustrated with the lack of good female roles, “You have zero control over if you are talented. You just have control over how hard you work. Don’t wait to be inspired.” Debora explained to students that it is less important to write five good pages and more important to write five pages. Students asking how to get a job in the industry were told, “no one wants to give you a break – they want to give you a job.”

    Debora elaborated on the topic explaining that students at the New York Film Academy have an incredible opportunity to make product now. She included that since almost everyone has a phone that records video footage, there is no reason why students should strive to always be making a new project – lucky for the New York Film Academy students they make eight short films in one year!

    Debora gave the actors advice including never change the words of a script at a television audition as the writer is often in the room. She also gave the writers advice including go into television instead of film. Said Debora, “When your pilot is picked up you are the CEO of a 300 person company and you are overseeing an entire series. When your film script is complete, it could take over ten years to see any footage.” Her other big advice for the producers and writers in the room? Move to LA. (Tip: enroll in your second year at New York Film Academy Los Angeles to get a chance to network on both coasts!)

    New York Film Academy was lucky to have Debora Cahn visit the academy. Follow @nyfa on Twitter for more news on upcoming guests!


    March 25, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6215

  • New York Film Academy Student, Miss Burbank Ashley Karp: I Know I’m An Entertainer for As Long As I Breathe


    Through NYFA my confidence is definitely boosted from when I began the program. I trust myself more than I ever have. I now have this courage that was once hidden, that has now awakened, and I know if I just trust myself, nothing can go wrong.

    Ashley Karp

    Ashley Karp is the new Miss Burbank, running for Miss California, and somehow finding time to attend the New York Film Academy Acting Conservatory. Ashley, who is working on her two-year Associates of Fine Arts degree at NYFA, has previously done spots on shows including Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, and Seventh Heaven. She is now preparing to perform live for the title of Miss California USA for Donald Trump in November. The NYFA blog was lucky that Ashley had a few minutes between classes to talk about the school, the competition, and her future goals…

    Ashley, how has your experience been at the New York Film Academy?

    I am in the process of getting my Associates Degree in Acting for Film. I am in the March 2010 group, which has such amazing talent. It’s wonderful to be around peers that have the exact same ambition you have, and through this you can experience something amazing, whether it be in a scripted scene or a regular improvisation. It’s those little moments of spontaneity that keep you on your toes as an actor, and makes your scene alive. It’s just plain old fun, and I love, live, and breathe every second of it.

    Do you have a favorite NYFA teacher since studying with the Academy?

    It’s so hard to pick a favorite teacher at NYFA. They are all so passionate about their craft, and each has something uniquely amazing to bring to a class of actors. I love all of them so much. However, the one experience I remember when I really broke through myself in a sense is when I was in David Brooks’ script analysis class.

    We were studying The Breakfast Club and I chose to play the role of Bender. David’s exercise to find this character was titled “the animal exercise”, in which you sought to discover the inner animal within the character you were playing. For some reason, when thinking of Bender as hard as he was depicted in the original film, thought Bender was more like a beaten hyena pup while looking at the script. We had to ‘become’ this animal, and then play the scene as so. Playing him as a beaten hyena, it truly boosted Bender; it gave him juice and he had so many colors to see. I’ll never forget that moment.

    How did you end up getting involved with the Miss Burbank competition?

    One of my good friends who had competed previously told me I should sign up for Miss California, saying I would be great for it. I told her she was crazy. Two nights later, I got a Facebook message from one of the recruiters from the Miss California pageant, saying I should fill out an online application.

    I’m in the car with close friend on the way to Disney and I get a call from one of the executives of Miss California. He says, “I have one question for you…If you had the power to take away one thing in this world, what would it be and why?” I had to answer on the spot. I replied “greed”. He then stated with my answer alone, I was in the final 10, beating out 600 girls for my slot alone.

    I was baffled to say the least. The next day I anxiously went to Miss California casting HQ, where they said I had been selected to compete…and the rest is history 🙂

    What are you ultimately hoping to do in the entertainment industry?

    Ever since I was 5 years old, I’ve always wanted to be in the entertainment industry. I was the kid that would get up on the kitchen table and sing at family functions, a complete ham. I’ve just known that it’s what I’m meant to do, my absolute passion.

    I love to write & play music as well, my instrument of choice being the Bass. I have a few songs and movie ideas plotted out, so that is a great possibility as well. I just know I’m an entertainer for as long as I breathe.

    What projects have you been able to work on or be a part of since studying at the Academy?

    I have done many student projects at NYFA, some of which have been submitted to film festivals as of recent. In the past, I’ve had appearances on 7th Heaven, as well commercials for Eggo and Aetna Insurance. I’ve also been able to do spots on Let’s Make a Deal, Grey’s Anatomy and Glee, and I’m just getting started…I can’t wait for more!

    What advice would you give to someone considering a program at NYFA?

    If you have any interest in the entertainment field, whether it be just watching films or actually participating in them, any program at NYFA is perfect. The teachers, staff, and students alike are so committed and passionate to their crafts. It is a wonderful environment to be around.

    To follow Ashley as she moves forward in the Miss California USA pageant, be sure to follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


    February 22, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4190

  • A Chat with 5-Time NYFA Alum Michael Tanner Cusumano


    Michael Tanner Cusumano has been a student at the New York Film Academy for five years. He is only 16 but his work has already garnered him several awards of merit at festivals including Metropolitan Film Festival of NYC, Burbank International Film Festival, Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival. The NYFA Blog was lucky to catch up with Michael this week….


    Michael, thanks so much for sitting down with us. It is my understanding that you have done several programs with the New York Film Academy?

    I’ve taken two years of the tween programs, and so far I’ve done three years of the High School Advanced HD Program. I first heard about NYFA from a family friend and they just said great things about the school. I went and checked them out and I just fell in love with NYFA. The New York Film Academy teen program is extremely unique – there’s really no program I’ve seen quite like it. The New York Film Academy gives its students amazing production equipment to work with and without NYFA, I wouldn’t have access to these amazing tools.

    Do you have a favorite experience at NYFA so far?

    That’s I really tough question because NYFA is an amazing experience in itself. For one of my projects, Sage, we filmed on location at The Queen Mary in Long Beach and that was really fun. The Queen Mary treated us really well because we were NYFA students. Sage just won Best Film Noir at Burbank International Film Festival 2010 and also showed at the Red Rock Film Festival.

    Out of the five films you have created in your time at NYFA, which have you been most proud of?

    I’m really proud of the way Amanda turned out. We had an amazing cast and crew and we were able to get a stunt in the film, which was awesome. Amanda deals with teenage drinking and driving, which I feel is a really important issue. I think this film might help detour people from making a life-changing mistake. As a director, it’s good to make a film that you have a relationship with and that you’re passionate about. With Amanda, a friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver and that’s what led me to make the film.

    ***Amanda premiered at the Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival 2011 and has since screened at New York Filmmaker’s New York Film Festival, Urban Suburban Film Festival, Mountain Film Festival, and Buffalo Niagara Film Festival. It won Best High School Film at Santa Clarita Valley Film Festival, an Award of Merit at Los Angeles Cinema Festival of Hollywood, and Honorable Mention at the Metropolitan Film Festival of New York City.

    So what comes next?

    Right now I’m working on a new short film called Impetuous, which deals with the issue of peer pressure and bullying. We are planning to film at the end of March. My dream since I was a little kid was to get work as a director in the industry. I think it’s important to do something you love, and for me that’s definitely film.

    For more information on Michael and his films, check out his website at


    February 18, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4018

  • Alec Urbach, President’s Volunteer Service Award Recipient


    Alec Urbach The President's Volunteer Service Award

    The New York Film Academy is pleased to announce that our high school camp alum Alec Orbach has been honored by the Obama Administration as a recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award (the Corporation for National & Community Service).  Alec has taken the lessons he learned at NYFA’s camp and implemented these tools to make a worldwide difference.   

    In 2009, Alec Urbach, now 15 years old, founded an organization called Giving From The Ground Up, through which he creates and produces animated, educational health-care videos for children in third world countries, and sends medical and dental supplies to accompany these videos. There is not enough money for full time nurses or doctors in the communities the organization serves, so these videos provide a vital role in educating children in a fun, engaging way about healthcare fundamentals, and endowing the villages’ make-shift clinics with important basic medical supplies. Another purpose of Giving From The Ground Up is to create and produce documentaries about young people and the conditions under which they live in Ghana and other third world countries, to present to high school and college groups here in America for the purpose of promoting fundraising events to purchase needed medical and school supplies for the villages.

    For more information on Alec’s foundation, visit here.

    This is the letter that Alec received from President Obama!

    Alec Urbach's Letter from President Obama

    Alec has been a part of the NYFA family for several years; he has taken multiple courses, and most recently completed the 4-week high school Broadcast Journalism camp (in June of 2010).  Congratulations Alec, we are very proud of you.


    February 4, 2011 • Acting • Views: 4778