Veterans
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  • New York Film Academy Hosts 2017 Writers Guild Foundation Veterans Writing Retreat

    katie buckland

    Opening remarks by Katie Buckland, Executive Director of the Writers Guild Foundation”

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was privileged to host the 2017 Writers Guild Foundation (WGF)Veterans Writing Retreat’ at the College’s campus in Burbank, CA on April 29 and 30. NYFA’s media content team and an all-veteran student crew filmed the event, which provided the vet students studying Filmmaking, Documentary, and Producing at NYFA with the valuable hands-on experience of working a large-scale production event.

    Now in its seventh year, the Veterans Writing Project pairs military veterans who are interested in writing for film and television with mentors who are members of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW). More than 75 veterans from all branches of the military and across the country— including 12 NYFA students and alumni — participated in the retreat.

    The mentors included seasoned film and TV writers such as Peter Casey (“Frasier”), David Isaacs (“Frasier”), Ken Levine (“M*A*S*H*”), and Ashley Edward Miller (“X-Men: First Class”). The two-day retreat consisted of workshops on developing story, structure, characters and culminated with a presentation on the elements of screenwriting from noted film writer Billy Ray (“Captain Phillips,” “The Hunger Games”).

    The Writers Guild Foundation (WGF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit is associated with the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and supports programs that positively impact and empower unique groups and communities of creative individuals who want to enter the entertainment industry as writers.

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    Veterans take part in a session about developing story, structure, and characters

    “The Writers Guild Foundation retreat for Veterans was an informative and extremely positive experience for me. The mentors were all fantastic and forthcoming. The staff made us feel welcomed and comfortable. I am grateful I had the opportunity and would recommend it to any other aspiring veteran writers,” said Adam Teitelbaum, US Navy, MFA Screenwriting student (BFA Screenwriting alumnus)

    The Veterans Advancement Program team at NYFA, which facilitated the production team tasked with filming the event, considered that aspect of the WGF event a huge success. Ed Gomez, MFA Documentary student exclaimed, “I had one of the greatest experiences and opportunities this past weekend at the New York Film Academy. As a Marine Corps Veteran and current NYFA Documentary student, I had the privilege of being part of the film crew responsible for filming the Writers Guild Foundation Veteran Writing Project. Not only did the experiences while taping this event reinforce what is being in taught in class, but more importantly I had the honor and prestige of meeting and hearing from some of greatest minds in the film industry. I hope to continue to be part of this experience next year.”

    May 9, 2017 • Acting, Veterans • Views: 1248

  • NYFA Hosts Veterans for Exclusive Game Design Workshop

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) facilitated an exclusive, hands on Game Design workshop for service members and veterans that were interested in pursuing an education in the field of game design and game engineering. Veterans from across Southern California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, met at the College’s campus located in Burbank, CA.

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    “Veterans working together to build a game during the workshop”

    Several veteran nonprofits including Veterans in Film & Television (VFT), Team Push (TPU), and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) collaborated with NYFA to support the workshop. The special event focused on how to break into the game design industry. As part of the activity veterans participating worked together to build games.

    Bryan Parent, Founder of Team Push, and a workshop participant, stated, “These types of events are important to our veterans; it is an opportunity to learn how their military skills can be used in a civilian setting, where they can work together as a team with other veterans and co-workers, and to break apart any assumptions we have leaving the military, or what others think we are coming out of the military. NYFA put all of that into an easily digested workshop that left all of Team Push Up’s members asking for more.”

    The College’s Veterans Services Department organized the event; Chris Swain, NYFA’s Game Design Department Chair facilitated the workshop. Swain is a seasoned game designer and game design engineer, who has authored 50+ games for Activision, EA, Sony, Microsoft, Disney and many others.

    “The New York Film Academy has a long history of supporting veterans and while this workshop was geared towards those interested in learning more about the burgeoning game design industry, the occasion also provided an opportunity for veterans to network with each other and be around those with similar life experiences,” said Eric Brown, US Navy Veteran and Veterans Coordinator at NYFA.

    May 5, 2017 • Game Design, Veterans • Views: 1770

  • Student Veterans Organization Hosts Open Mic Night at Local VFW

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    NYFA Veterans who showcased their talents gather together after the event”

    On Friday, April 21, the Student Veterans Organization (SVO) of the New York Film Academy hosted an Open Mic night at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Ship 8103 in Burbank, CA. The Open Mic night provided an excellent opportunity for veterans to more deeply develop camaraderie and fellowship.

    The VFW eagerly supported the NYFA SVO event, which brought many younger Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to the VFW. The NYFA SVO President Vincent Cugno, who is a BFA Acting student at the College, hosted the evening and brought together current fellow NYFA veteran students, and alumni, who wanted to showcase their talents. Gino Filiponi, NYFA Acting for Film student, stated “It was great to share some laughs with fellow veterans.”

    Seasoned comic Travis Frazee—who has showcased at local comedy clubs—was the headliner for the evening. Frazee, currently a student in NYFA’s BFA Program, has performed routines at venues including the “Ha Ha Comedy Club,” “Flappers,” and “The Comedy Store.”

    This was the first of many events that the NYFA Student Veteran Organization will be organizing. Other activities include community service engagement, BBQ’s, sports nights, and more that are all designed to bring veteran students together.

    April 28, 2017 • Acting, Veterans • Views: 2598

  • NYFA’s Leadership Meets with Major Hollywood Studios to Increase Opportunities for Student Veterans

    Founded in 1992, the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) has a long history of supporting the military and veteran communities. The College has been privileged to enroll more than 1250 veteran students at our campuses in New York City, Los Angeles, CA and South Beach, FL., since 2009.

    In order to increase the support services to student veterans, in 2014, NYFA appointed the honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC as the Chair of NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

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    Recently, Colonel Jacobs and NYFA’s senior leadership met with several major studios including SONY Pictures, NBCUniversal, DreamWorks, and Voltage Pictures to increase support in helping NYFA student veterans obtain internships and employment opportunities.

    The entertainment and media industry leaders that the NYFA delegation met all spoke very highly of the veterans that they have employed in their companies, and expressed keen interest in partnering with NYFA as an obvious pathway to hire additional well-trained veterans that have been educated in the fields related to filmmaking.

    “Veterans are some of the most creative people in the visual and performing arts,” states Colonel Jacobs empathically. “They are strong leaders and their life experiences will be an asset to any company that hires them.”

    NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program continues to bring unique opportunities to its veteran students. As an example, NYFA provided veteran students the opportunity to work on the production of the New York City Veterans’ Day Parade in collaboration with the United War Veterans Council (UWVC).

    On another occasion, veteran students worked with LA Mayor Garcetti on his 10,000 Strong Hiring Initiative by filming the major event and interviewing the Mayor and other VIP participants. This activity was held in celebration of Mayor Garcetti’s one-year anniversary of the launch of the 10,000 Strong Hiring Initiative. The New York Film Academy received a Certificate of Appreciation from Mayor Garcetti on behalf of the city of Los Angeles and its residents for delivering impactful media services.

    Veterans also had the good fortune to produce a video for the California Department of Veterans Affairs for service members transitioning out of the military. Other projects have included directing, producing and filming public service announcements—on a pro-bono basis— for veteran non-profit organizations. All of these opportunities provided many of the veteran students with their first chance to work on professional productions.

    Colonel Jacobs noted, “We hope that by developing these relationships we will be able to help more student veterans and add to the number of veterans that graduated from NYFA that are currently working and finding success in the industry.”

    -Jim Miller and John Powers

    April 12, 2017 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 2198

  • Aspiring Broadcast Journalists Learn the Ropes with Colonel Jack Jacobs at MSNBC/NBC Studios

    Veterans and Active Duty military students from New York Film Academy and local New York City community colleges were hosted by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of NYFA Veteran Advancement Program, at the famed 30 Rock Studios in New York City to explore career paths in television news and media outlets with a guided tour of one of the most watched news outlets in the United States — MSNBC/NBC. Colonel Jacobs is one of this nation’s most highly decorated service members; his valor in the Vietnam War led to his being a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Colonel Jacobs is currently the on-air military analyst at MSNBC/NBC.

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    NYFA students tour MSNBC/NBC studios

    Led through the historic hallways of NBC studios, students interested in careers in television were introduced to the fast-paced world of 24-hour news production by Colonel Jacobs, who offered insights to the next generation of aspiring television producers about the ins-and-outs of a dynamic and evolving business.

    Attendees received a behind the scenes look at the various newsrooms and studio sets for such iconic television shows as the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Morning Joe,” “AM Joy, and” “The Rachel Maddow Show”. The visit included a glimpse of the famed “Saturday Night Live” studios.

    “Now is the best time to be involved in television, in media in general,” lauded the Colonel. “Content is king. There are an increasing number of distributors out there; Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and they all need content!”

    His words did not fall on deaf ears as the veteran students in attendance were eager to learn as much as they could about careers in television—embracing previously unexplored opportunities that match the skills they honed at the New York Film Academy.

    “When you dream about working in film and television and you have no idea what the first step is–sometimes all you need is just to be in the same room with the people that do it, to see it with your own eyes. This makes that dream tangible, something real that you can touch, something that you can reach out and grab. It makes it obtainable,” remarked André Morissette, NYFA BFA Acting for Film student and veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

    April 6, 2017 • Acting, Veterans • Views: 1813

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes 222nd Military Broadcast Operations Detachment

    On March 4th, 2017, the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) welcomed the 222nd Broadcast Operations Detachment to the College to provide hands-on instruction on voice training and filmmaking. The 222nd provides public affairs and media relations support for the U.S. Army Reserves, Regular Army, and Department of Defense.

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    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles has a long history of supporting the military and veteran communities by provided exclusive workshops. NYFA previously hosted the 201st and 222nd military units last year and held several exclusive training workshops for wounded warriors.

    The training was held at the College’s state-of-the art campus in Burbank, CA. NYFA’s instructors, who are all industry professionals, led workshops focused on voice training to provide a refined creative approach to enhance their narrative skill sets. The soldiers were instructed to bring a narrative story that they connected with emotionally to add value to the training delivered. The workshop was followed by a compilation of film/framing compositions and advanced sound/audio instruction. By providing the experience from the Director’s point-of-view, the service members were uniquely supported in their current roles within the unit.

    About the event, Kerry Wright Commander of the 222nd Broadcast Operations Detachment said, “The New York Film Academy puts together the best training an Army broadcast unit could ask for. The 222 Broadcast Operations Detachment has received valuable workshop training, covering interviews, lighting, voice overs, and camera framing and composition — all of which covers our required mission essential tasks. NYFA’s Veterans Services is committed to ensuring that our Army Public Affairs soldiers receive the best in training from highly qualified instructors. We are grateful, and look forward to seeing you at future workshops.” 

    The New York Film Academy, the world’s largest and most prestigious private global visual and performing arts private institution, is committed to supporting this newest generation of veterans. NYFA is proud to serve military veterans and servicemembers in their pursuit of a world-class education in filmmaking—and related disciplines—through its Veterans Advancement Program, Chaired by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient.

    March 21, 2017 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1501

  • NYFA Veterans Treated to “Hacksaw Ridge” Screening with Mel Gibson

    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles welcomed Academy Award-winning director, Mel Gibson, to screen his Oscar-winning film, “Hacksaw Ridge,” to an audience of student military veterans. Associate Chair of Acting, Christopher Cass, and Veteran and MFA Acting for Film student Ron Ringo moderated the evening.

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    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    The Q&A began by asking how Gibson first came across the project, “Hacksaw Ridge.” “It was given to me three times by Bill Mechanic,” said Gibson. “He used to run Fox. He really has a passion. He loves film. I’ve never met a producer who was a big mucky-muck but was also willing to really get down in the trenches and get his hands dirty.”

    Gibson said working on this film was different than any other project before it. He is typically accustomed to creating original content or transforming a story from another medium to film. Desmond T. Doss’ story left a significant impression. Telling it correctly was a huge responsibility.

    “There were tears on the page,” Gibson said. “Among the Medal of Honor Recipients, Desmond was the guy. I mean, who goes into a place without a weapon? Generally, recipients do something incredibly courageous in an instant. Desmond was premeditated. He kept laying his life on the line, again and again. He’d crawl into enemy fire to get anyone. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”

    Gibson frequently uses military veterans in his films. He stated that there were Rangers in “We Were Soldiers” and vets in “Black Hawk Down.” “There’s something about marshaling a film crew and the chain of command and the difficulty — the ferocity of what it all takes to get a large number of people together that is kind of like a battle. You have this logistical way of trying to put things together. You have to have a general and a captain and Sargent. On a regular film, this is your First A. D. and the Director. They have to keep everyone’s morale up. Many people on set are veterans.”

    When it came time to for the Q and A portion of the event, one veteran stood up and asked, “When you’re preparing for a role or working with an actor do you listen to music to help set the mood?”

    Gibson responded, “I think music is very important because music transcends logic. It goes straight from your ear to your heart. I did an acting exercise when I was nineteen or something like that. You had to walk up to a person — could be a spouse, a brother, or a friend — and you’re never going to see that person ever again. And you’re saying goodbye for the last time.

    We all did this exercise, and everyone’s laughing and joking around. Then our instructor says he’s going to try out something different. He plays this soulful sort of Bram’s violin thing and we all had to do it again and everyone starts crying. I was amazed. It struck me how transcendent music can be. Music informs a lot of things. Almost everything you do filming wise is rhythmic whether it has music or not. Storytelling has a rhythm and a pace. Your heart, the sound of the ocean, it is all music. So, yes, I think it’s important.”

    mel gibson at nyfa

    photo by Kristine Tomaro

    Gibson also spoke about his first time on set as a director. The night before he was nervous, so he called up Clint Eastwood. Treating the student to an impersonation of Eastwood giving the advice, Gibson said, “Just say action and cut.”

    BFA Screenwriting student and Marine Corps veteran, Patrick Stinich had this to say about the experience, “It was an honor to watch this incredible true story brought to life in a very powerful way. You could tell that Mel Gibson really cares about what drives men that choose of their own free will to wade into the hell that a combat zone can become. I respect him very much as a storyteller, a director, and as a man for that. The 212-seat theater provided those of us who have served our country in a time of war a really intimate and rewarding experience with one of the film industries’ finest. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this event. I learned a lot.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Mr. Gibson for volunteering the time to speak with our veterans.

    “Hacksaw Ridge” is now available on VOD and DVD. Gibson will be starring in “The Professor and the Madman,” and “Daddy’s Home 2” later this year.

    March 21, 2017 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Veterans • Views: 3012

  • LA Rams Welcome New York Film Academy Veterans

    On Sunday, December 11, the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts Veteran Students enjoyed an afternoon at the LA Memorial Coliseum to watch the Los Angeles Rams host the Atlanta Falcons. This opportunity was made possible by a generous ticket donation from the LA Rams organization, which is a proud supporter of military servicemembers and veterans.

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    Veterans enjoyed the afternoon experiencing the game — and simply being with their fellow veterans. A few of the NYFA veteran students stated that this was the first live NFL game that they’ve ever attended. Veteran Services Coordinator Michael Kunselman, a U.S. Navy veteran, stated, “It feels great to be able to provide these social opportunities to our veteran students… and seeing how much they enjoyed the game feels great. The NYFA courses are intensive and require a huge amount of focus, time, and energy; this is a great way for everyone to blow off steam and relax together.”

    The LA Rams fell to the Atlanta Falcons with a final score of 42-14.

    The New York Film Academy is extremely grateful for the support that the Los Angeles Rams organization provided to our military, and to the veteran students at NYFA.

    December 20, 2016 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1965

  • Student Veterans at NYFA Receive an Early Holiday Gift

    On December 10th, 2016, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor Recipient, Chair of NYFA’s Veteran Advancement Program, and on-air Military Strategist for NBC and MSNBC, led a group of veteran students from the New York Film Academy on a behind-the-scenes tour of NBC studios.

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    Attendees visited the sets of The Today Show and NBC Nightly News and gained deeper insight into how a major news network provides content for its viewership.

    “Every time I set foot on a professional set, I get chills! This is why I came to NYFA! I want to be on television!” exclaimed U.S. Navy veteran, Julia Velasquez, Acting for Film graduate, upon seeing the giant production set as the group walked into the MSNBC studio.

    After touring the sets, students were brought to the MSNBC control room where they were treated with a very interesting situation occurring in real-time: A scheduled interviewee was late for their interview spot and the control room personnel were involved in a whirlwind of action trying to fill air space while the person made there way through heavy cross-town traffic!

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    Colonel Jacobs used the opportunity to provide a learning experience for the NYFA students, explaining the demanding conditions they must navigate through to provide a seamless broadcast to audiences at home.

    The veterans soaked up the lesson Colonel Jacobs was instilling: Every position at the network is specialized and translates into the creation of a product that is greater than the sum of its parts when the team works together.

    “Television is a collaborative production — just like filmmaking. People work together and pool their talents to create art,” mused Army Veteran and NYFA Filmmaking and Photography Conservatory graduate, Anthony Floyd.

    December 19, 2016 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1717

  • NYFA Veteran Students March in Veterans Day Parades

    Veterans Day 2016 was a very special occasion for the New York Film Academy (NYFA) as dozens of veteran students and their families marched in Veterans Day Parades in the three major cities where NYFA has campuses— Los Angeles, New York City and Miami.

    The NYFA student veterans in New York City marched along with nearly 20,000 participants in the 97th annual parade, which is the largest Veterans Day Parade in the country. The grand marshals of the parade were military servicemembers who also worked at Ground Zero following the 9/11 attacks.

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    New York Film Academy Veterans and Their Families Marching in the Largest Veterans Day Parade in the Country

    Mayor Bill de Blasio, the 109th Mayor of New York City, also marched in the parade alongside representatives from the newly formed NYC Department of Veterans Services (DVS), including Brigadier General (ret.) Loree Sutton, MD, the Commissioner for DVS. NYFA vet students were invited by Commissioner Sutton to march with the DVS contingency and the Mayor.

    Students in Los Angeles joined the inaugural parade in Los Angeles, which was held on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus and was led by former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. The event featured live entertainment, a car show, children’s play area and games for the entire family.

    In South Florida, communities honored veterans with events in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Student veterans marched in the 19th annual Veterans Day Parade in Coconut Grove. These events also featured a community gathering, live music and food.

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    New York Film Academy Veterans and Their Families Marching in the Largest Veterans Day Parade in the Country

    “The parade was a great opportunity for NYFA veterans to come together to honor those whom they served with as well as veterans from all generations,” said NYFA Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Eric Brown, US Navy. “They were also able to feel the support from their communities for their service.”

    NYFA is thankful to support these annual events and is proud to serve military veterans and service members in their pursuit of a world-class education in filmmaking—and related disciplines—through its Veterans Advancement Program, which is Chaired by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient.

    November 18, 2016 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1230