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  • Lionsgate Talent Acquisition Speaks with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Military Veteran-Students

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    The Lionsgate Talent Acquisition team gave a special presentation to New York Film Academy (NYFA) military veteran-students and veteran-student alumni on June 19, 2019 at the NYFA Theater at our Los Angeles Campus in Burbank. 

    Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Anita Noe, and Senior Recruiter, Hugo Vergara, were on hand to discuss employment and internship opportunities to NYFA veteran-students. The presentation opened with a company overview and then segued into the company’s structure, operations, vision for the future, and—most importantly—how to effectively apply for internships and employment with Lionsgate. Having many subsidiaries, including Starz Inc. and Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate also assists in their staffing as well. 

    Veteran-students were highly engaged in the presentation, posed many questions, and came away with a wonderful insight into the company. 

    “Hearing what Lionsgate had to say was both motivating and very informative. They provided a lot of information on resumes and effective job searching that I will take with me post-graduation. Lionsgate would be a wonderful company to be a part of and I will be exploring the opportunities that they have in the very near future,” said Elcor Aragundi, US Army veteran and NYFA BFA Filmmaking Student.

    lionsgate
    Based out of Santa Monica, Lionsgate is one of the industry’s leading production companies and distributors. Along with The Hunger Games and John Wick franchises, they are responsible for popular titles such as Uncle Drew, The Big Stick, La La Land and Sicario, among many other current movies and television Shows.

    The New York Film Academy Department of Veteran Services would like to sincerely thank Anita and Hugo—and the rest of the Lionsgate team—for their time and generosity.  

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    July 2, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Veterans • Views: 368

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Partners with Raritan High School for the Veterans Portrait Project

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) recently partnered with Raritan High School in Hazlet, New Jersey for the Veterans Portrait Project (VVP), a nonprofit organization and ongoing photography project that honors the women and men who have served their country in the armed forces.

    NYFA Photography instructor John Tona guided digital photography students at the high school as they captured portraits of over a dozen veterans from across New Jersey, as well as any of the students’ family members from across the US who have served.

    Veterans Portrait Project VPP Raritan HS
    On set was Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor Recipient and Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program, who greeted the student photographers and veteran subjects, as well as joining them for a portrait. Each veteran participated in an individual portrait session.

    Additionally, the participating veterans and Colonel Jacobs were interviewed by AP Language students who used the statements to compose a tribute to commemorate their service. Both the portraits and written tributes were showcased in a dedicated exhibit at the school on Memorial Day. 

    “There are few Americans with experiences as diverse, startling, and life-altering as our military veterans,” said Jacobs. “The Veterans Portrait Project brings these experiences into emotionally-laden view, and in the process, the Project captures the creative skill of those who have served us. The New York Film Academy is proud to be a part of this spectacular effort.” 

    “It was an amazing experience,” remarked Tona, who worked closely with the students and their veteran subjects. “It’s always great to work with young students, eager to learn photography. What I think made this even more special was our subjects. Meeting with and hearing some of the stories from the veterans and their families from all major conflicts going back to World War II was a unique experience—not only did the students of Raritan High School receive photography lessons, but it was a lesson in our nation’s history as well. I am glad I could be a part of it.”

    Also in attendance during the event were Hazlet Mayor Scott Aagre, Raritan High School Principal Dr. Andrew Piotrowski, and Monmouth County Freeholder Sue Kiley.

    The Veterans Portrait Project was launched by Stacy Pearsall, a decorated combat photographer who has completed three tours in Iraq and photographed approximately 6,000 US veterans. The project provides photography students with an opportunity to advance their studio lighting and portrait photography skills, while also giving them the chance to thank America’s heroes through their art.

    “The Raritan High School Veterans Portrait Project’s purpose is to provide students the opportunity and privilege of interacting with local military veterans while advancing their interviewing, writing, and portrait photography skills,” declared Teresa Gennarelli, Fine Arts Educator at Raritan High School. “The event fosters a knowledge of—and a respect for—the sacrifices our veterans have made for all of us, and bestows a small honor on our heroes.”

    New York Film Academy and Chair of the NYFA Veteran Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs thanks the students, faculty, and staff of Raritan High School and Ms. Stacy Pearsall for including NYFA in this impactful activity and for their dedication to those who have served in this nation’s military.

    Check out some of the student portrait work below:

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    June 18, 2019 • Photography, Veterans • Views: 645

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Division of Veteran Services Hosts Screening of Netflix’s ‘Medal of Honor’

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    A special screening of Netflix’s hit series, Medal of Honor, was held at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Theater in New York City last week, hosted by NYFA’S Division of Veteran Services (DVS). 

    Medal of Honor

    Commissioner Loree Sutton MD (Brigadier General Ret.) of New York City’s Department of Veteran Services and Medal of Honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.) participated in an unfeigned discussion with attendees after the screening of Episode 8, which featured the heroic story of Staff Sergeant Ty Cater, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama in 2013 for his heroic actions in Afghanistan.

    Reflecting on the Medal of Honor experience from a personal perspective, Colonel Jack Jacobs, who has been the Chair of New York Film Academy’s Veteran Advancement Program since 2014, and is also an on-air Military Analyst at MSNBC/NBC news, answered questions from the audience along side the Commissioner Sutton.

    Jack Jacobs

    NYFA Acting for Film alum Tyler Williams, who portrays Ty Carter in the episode, not only conveyed the authentic challenges service members face in their transition back from combat, but will be screening the episode with veteran students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus on February 11.

    “A successful transition home is important not only to veterans, but the families and communities they return to,” asserted Commissioner Sutton, an Army psychiatrist and a fierce advocate in New York City for services that protect and empower returning service members. 

    Medal of Honor

    Attendees engaged openly with the Commissioner Sutton and Colonel Jacobs in a series of questions that ranged from the philosophical (“Do you think that Plato was right when he stated that only the dead have seen the end of war?”) to the pragmatic (“How do vets leverage the skills they learned in the military if they want to work in film and television?”)

    Both speakers believe the arts offered great opportunities for healing. Army veteran Justin Ford, a NYFA Filmmaking & Producing conservatory grad, enthusiastically stated, “It was a really great opportunity to hear Commissioner Sutton’s and Colonel Jacobs’ thoughts about the Medal of Honor, war, and returning home from the defining moment of many young veteran’s life—combat.”

    Medal of Honor
    Col. Jack Jacobs and Commissioner Sutton exchange military challenge coins in a warm and touching moment

    The Netflix screening and special quest speakers made for a very moving and emotional evening, which was made all the more special by a touching and warm exchange of military challenge coins that passed reciprocally between Colonel Jacobs and Commissioner Sutton at the event’s conclusion. 

    New York Film Academy students can attend another screening of Medal of Honor at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus on February 11, with special guest Tyler Williams — you can RSVP for the event here.

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    February 4, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Veterans • Views: 675

  • Colonel Jack Jacobs Holds Lecture for New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Veteran-Students

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailOn November 15, 2018 New York Film Academy Los Angeles veteran-students gathered in the NYFA Theater, for a special lecture from Medal of Honor Recipient and appointed Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs.

    Colonel Jacobs served in the U.S. Military for more than 20 years and his gallantry in Vietnam earned him the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest combat honor—as well as two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. Colonel Jacobs is a military strategist and on-air analyst for NBC and MSNBC News.

    Colonel Jacobs’ mission at NYFA is to support the Academy’s veteran-students’ transition from the military to exciting careers in media and entertainment.

    The evening began with a screening of the documentary about Colonel Jacobs that recounted the events that took place during the Vietnam War and Colonel Jacobs’ dauntless actions that later earned him the Medal of Honor.

    Honorable Col. Jack Jacobs (MoH Recipient) with NYFA veteran-students.

    During the talk, Colonel Jacobs discussed his personal experience in transitioning from the military to civilian life and offered his advice to the veterans in attendance. The Colonel’s personal experiences, his inspiration, and at times his wit, touched several pungent topics. He emphasized his belief that the military is the only place that will give an 18-year-old man or woman a large amount of responsibility and this prepares them – more than most 18-year old who have not served – for nearly any career and circumstance. “An employer who hires a veteran, gains a huge benefit due to the work ethic and skills that they learned and honed while serving our great Country” stated Jacobs. He spoke on how veterans should walk into a job interview confident that with their military background, they know both how to follow and how to lead.

    The evening concluded with Colonel Jacobs taking photos and talking with the NYFA veteran-students as well as other vets in attendance from Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME), and the Veterans Affairs (VA).

    It was truly a great experience and very inspirational evening for everyone in attendance.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    December 6, 2018 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers, Veterans • Views: 732

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Collaborates with Hire Heroes USA

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe New York Film Academy (NYFA) Department of Veteran Services (DVS) had the pleasure of once again partnering with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. NYFA veteran-students and veteran-alums participated in the event as well as a select group of members from Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME).

    Hire Heroes USA is a registered nonprofit that provides free career coaching and job sourcing to those transitioning out of the US military; the organization assists veterans and spouses with finding employment as well as providing career counseling and job sourcing. 

    The critical elements of the workshop focused on a practicum in resume formatting, networking tactics, and how to fully prepare for an interview. Jamie Rimphanli and Amy Dodson, representatives from Hire Heroes USA, led the workshop and shared valuable insight on navigating the job search process.

    Hire Heroes USA

    Jamie Rimphanli (second from left) and Amy Dodson (far right) meet with veterans from the employment workshop.

    Additionally, industry professionals joined the event during the day for a moderated Q&A session. Panelists represented Mattel Industries, Warner Brothers, Paramount Studios, Legendary Entertainment, and other top entertainment companies. These experts discussed how they got their start in the industry and provided advice to the attendees on kickstarting their careers.

    Following the panel, the veterans had the opportunity to network with the industry professionals and the informative day concluded at a local restaurant for a mixer that provided a more intimate setting in which to build contacts.

    Of the event, US Navy Veteran and NYFA BFA Producing student Jonathan Garza remarked, “The Hire Heroes Workshop gave me a lot of valuable information that I will take into the job search once I finish my degree. This is a wonderful organization that all veterans looking to get into the workforce should utilize.

    New York Film Academy has been privileged to enroll more than 1500 veteran students and military dependents at our campuses since 2009. In addition to educating veterans with hands-on, intensive programs using state-of-the-art equipment, NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services (DVS), led by NYFA Chair of Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs, has been able to bring unique opportunities to its veterans students while supporting the veteran community.

    The NYFA Department of Veteran Services is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for providing this wonderful opportunity provided to NYFA veteran-students and looks forward to future collaborations! Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    September 7, 2018 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 769

  • New York Film Academy Division of Veterans Services Welcomes Casting Director Robert McGee, C.S.A as Guest Speaker

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe New York Film Academy (NYFA) College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Division of Veterans Services (DVS) recently welcomed NYFA’s veteran students and alumni, together with members of Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME), to a screening of the hit animated series Rick and Morty. Following the screening, the audience was treated to a Q&A with casting director extraordinaire, Robert McGee, C.S.A.

    The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all of which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran students, as well as the wider veteran communities, in Los Angeles, New York City, and South Beach (Miami).

    In addition to Rick and Morty, McGee has cast such hit shows as The Cleveland Show and Wizards of Waverly Place, as well as successful films such as The Virgin Suicides and World’s Greatest Dad, which starred Robin Williams. McGee is currently casting the newest rendition of The Adams Family, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll, and Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron.

    With over 20 years of experience in the casting business in both live action and animation, McGee enjoyed sharing valuable insight on the casting process for both live action and voice over work. McGee is very passionate about the casting business and enjoys meeting actors.

    “The Q&A with Mr. McGee was very insightful,” said NYFA BFA Producing student and U.S. Navy veteran Jonathan Garza. “As a Producing student it was very informative, learning the complexities of what a casting director goes through and how intricate the casting process is.”

    The New York Film Academy thanks Robert McGee for his generosity and willingness to help veterans pursuing careers in the film industry.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • Veterans Photography Workshop Held at New York Film Academy

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailThe New York Film Academy (NYFA)’s New York City campus recently hosted nearly 50 veterans, active-duty military personnel, and dependents for an evening master class in the application and principles of light in digital photography.

    Chair of the NYFA Photography Program David Mager facilitated the three-hour workshop.

    Professor Mager’s lecture Principles of Light served as a great introduction to the laws and active principles behind the lighting of any scene. Attendees learned to approach a shoot with a pre-visualized idea of what story they want the light to tell.  

    Both the lecture and hands-on exercises guided attendees to see what different types of light look like, and how to think about lighting as an essential tool in image creation. See more photos from the day here.

    NYFA’s Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program, The Honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, treated the participants to welcome remarks.

    NYFA provided this photography workshop at no charge to the veteran participants as part of the institution’s support of service members residing in the communities where NYFA has U.S. campuses: Los AngelesNew York City, and South Beach (Miami). In the past two years, NYFA’s Division of Veteran Services has provided more than a dozen such free masterclasses in various filmmaking related disciplines including Acting, ScreenwritingFilmmaking, and Acting for Film.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    June 11, 2018 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Diversity, Photography, Veterans • Views: 1008

  • African Black American Film Society Celebrates African American Women in Times of War and Conflict

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailMembers of New York Film Academy (NYFA) African and Black American Film Society (ABA) attended the first annual Greenlight Women Celebration in February, hosted by actress, model, and singer Shari Belafonte and actress Wendy Davis.

    NYFA students sat amongst filmmakers, magazine owners, and businesswomen for an amazing brunch followed by a Q&A to pay tribute to African American women that served our country in times of war and conflict.

    As the lights dimmed and all eyes focused on the screen, ABA members sat mesmerized as they watched clips from the soon-to-be-released documentary, Invisible Warriors: African American Women in World War II, which captures the untold stories of black women who battled Nazism abroad as well as racism and sexism at home. When the picture faded to black, the students applauded the moving stories of bravery and incredible obstacles that these women endured. Directed by Gregory Cooke, the harsh circumstances that African American women faced during wartime resonated throughout the room.

    Shari Belafonte and NYFA Producing Instructor Kimberly Ogletree led the discussion honoring four fascinating black female veterans that served in the Vietnam, Grenada, and Iraq wars. The women spoke of racism and sexism they encountered in the military, and their hopes for the next generation of soldiers, naval, and air force officers.

    NYFA students learned the historical context of these stories, during eras when anti-war activities, major Civil Rights demonstrations, the rise of Black Power, and the burgeoning Women’s Movement would impact the lives of women serving in the military.  Each of the women took a moment to discuss the sexual assault they witnessed or experienced first-hand, and shared how they were able to cope.

    Greenlight Women in Association with Loeb & Loeb Present: First Annual Black History Month Celebration Brunch on Saturday, Feb. 24th, 2018 at Sportsman’s Lodge in Studio City, California. (Photo by Arnold Turner/ATA)

    Judith Welsh, retired JAG stated:

    “You do not let your circumstances overcome you. You must overcome the circumstances.”

    These veterans confronted adversity. Giving up, being broken, or walking away was never an option for these women. The opportunity for students to bear witness to their situations and war stories from the black female soldiers’ perspective was extremely educational, and these particular women were honored to share because they had never before been given a forum to speak about their experiences.

    Retired Captain Joan Arrington Craigwell served as a flight nurse in the United States Air Force during one of the most heinous conflicts in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive. Joan’s voice was calm yet subdued as she spoke about the horrors she encountered from the frontline. Joan received the Bronze star for bravery and her service.

    There was a dead silence across the room as Joan and Gloria spoke in detail about unbelievable moments they experienced first-hand.

    A student asked, name one obstacle you had to overcome?

    Craigwell answered, “Having to go to Vietnam and the surprises that you faced. I still have a thing about not being able to save every person. It’s a nursing thing and I still carry that guilt knowing it was impossible.”

    Retired Army Lt. Colonel Dr. Gloria Willingham-Toure vividly remembers her obstacle, as a nurse having to make the painstaking decision of which injured soldiers would receive medical attention. She said, “When soldiers were flown directly from the battlefield they had some unbelievable wounds and I had to do triage like I never did before, which meant I had to walk past those I could not help. So I would cry, cry, and cry, until one of my commanders said, ‘You gotta decide today, are you going to be crying or help those that you can,’ and I changed at that point.”

    The stories were so intense that a young comedian, Alycia Cooper, silently stood as all eyes shifted to her, and in one swift second she lightened the entire mood and tone in the room. As I glanced at the two tables of ABA members I could see a needed relief from the stories, because the realities of war are hard to hear.

    Craigwell spoke of trying to desegregate one of her housing units in 1961. Her white friend had heard of a vacancy and asked if she could take it. When her application was denied they took up the issue with their higher-ups. They were told by command that this housing was set aside for black members.

    When Craigwell pushed back she was reassigned. Those in attendance, at the brunch, tut-tutted at the thought. Craigwell assured them the move was for the best. “I started doing some of my best work after that,” she said. Currently, Craigwell works to help veterans with employment, housing, and counseling.

    New York Film Academy student and veteran Hattie Sallie stood tall to applaud the honorees for their service. She said, “During my time in the armed forces, I could see the fruit beginning to bear which I attributed to the work and accomplishments of those that came before me.” She added, “There are more programs for soldiers battling PTSD. Officers are better trained. Progress is slow but it’s happening.”

    Our honorees were Lt. Col. Patricia Jackson-Kelly, who served in the Air Force, Navy, and Army between 1977-2003. Jackson-Kelly stated, “I applaud the youth today; your movement has been so refreshing. If it wasn’t for you I don’t know what we would do. The young people are speaking up for what they believe in and I encourage you to do that.” Today, Jackson-Kelly is the vice president of the National Association for Black Military Women.  

    Dr. Gloria Willingham-Toure is a retired Army Lt. Colonel. She served over 20 years in the reserves and in the Army National Guard. She began her career at Brooks Medical Center as a civilian nurse during the end of the Vietnam War. She retired from the 6222nd U.S. Army reserves Forces School, 5th Brigade, 104th Division Institutional Training, as the director of medical courses preparing our nation’s medical personnel for deployments.

    Willingham-Toure stated, “My only prayer during the end of the Vietnam war was that I hoped that the training I had given my soldiers would help them stay alive.”

    Judith Mary Welsh was a Personnel Specialist and retired JAG who served in the U.S. Navy. She served in Germany, where she won “Best Supporting Actress” in the 7th Corp tournament of plays. She retired from the 88th Military Police Unit. Welsh, and reiterated to the students to “Always overcome your circumstances.”

    And finally, Joan T. Arrington Craigwell attended the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. She would later work in Southeast Asia at Clark Air Base in the Philippines and Republic of South Vietnam. Craigwell stated, “We live in the greatest country in the world and attacking our democracy means death.”

    When opening the celebration, the President of Greenlight Women, Ivy Kagan Bierman, highlighted the importance of the group’s mission statement. Their statement proclaims: “Greenlight Women is an alliance of accomplished, creative, business professionals whose mission is to champion women and promote diverse perspectives in media.” Bierman stated that the wording of their mission statement and the name of their group had been crafted carefully, because, “We’re tired of sitting in meetings talking about change. We want to make change happen, now.” 

    Two New York Film Academy staff members sit on the board of Greenlight Women. Chair of the Diversity Action Group Kimberly Ogletree is a NYFA producing instructor and the chair of NYFA Los Angeles’ Industry Lab. Barbara Weintraub is chair of industry outreach and professional development, and she serves on the board of Greenlight Women as vice president.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Greenlight Women for giving our students an opportunity to speak with the women who defended our nation. To learn more about the mission of Greenlight Women click here.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

  • Mayor of Austin Honors NYFA Declaring April 14 “New York Film Academy Day”

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailLast week, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) proudly teamed up with the Texas Veterans Commission, Texas Film Commission and the City of Austin to facilitate a truly exciting NYFA Filmmaking Master Class, which was provided free for veterans and their dependents.

    The Austin Convention Center housed the daylong event and featured a six-hour interactive instructional seminar, titled Anatomy of a Scene, presented by NYFA New York City Chair of Short Term Programs Jonathan Whittaker. The seminar included lecture, screening, and group participation, to coach on writing, breaking down, and directing a scene. The seminar explored all aspects of filmmaking, including cinematography, producing, editing, acting, and screenwriting.

    From left to right: Stephanie Whallon, Incentive Program Manager, Texas Film Commission; Cruz Montemayor, Deputy Executive Director, Texas Veterans Commission; Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair, NYFA Veterans Advancement Program; Allen Bergeron, Veterans Program Administrator, City of Austin; John Powers, Director, NYFA Division of Veterans Services

    On hand to greet the nearly 70 military participants were the honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC and Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program; Cruz Montemayor, Deputy Executive Director, Texas Veterans Commission; Allen Bergeron, Military Veterans Program Manager, City of Austin; Minhu Vu, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Texas Film Commission; and Stephanie Whallon, Incentive Program Manager, Texas Film Commission.

    A highlight for NYFA was the presentation to Colonel Jacobs of a Special Proclamation by Austin’s Mayor, Steve Adler, declaring April 14 as “NYFA DAY” in the City of Austin!

    In part, the Proclamation reads:

    Be it known that

    Whereas,

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) seeks to promote and advance the art of visual storytelling through film and related media including staged performance as a transformational and ennobling vehicle to both the creator and audience; and

    Whereas,

    This art has a profound impact on the individuals, communities and global society and therefor NYFA seeks to make visual storytelling education accessible to the most diverse, international, and broadest possible spectrum of people from all backgrounds who one day will serve the visual storytelling arts as industry leaders; and

    Whereas,

    We appreciate NYFA for their innovative efforts in the film and arts industry and for supporting members of the Military who are currently serving and have served our country along with their families. Austin is proud to be called home to many of the brave men and women who serve(d) in the Military and to have the opportunity to explore various aspects of filmmaking through NYFA; and

    Now, Therefore,

    I, Steve Adler, Mayor of the City of Austin, Texas,

    do hereby proclaim

    April 14, 2018

    as

    NYFA Day

    NYFA’s President Michael Young expressed gratitude to Mayor Adler, stating, “We are incredibly honored and humbled to receive this proclamation from a city that does so much veterans, for film, and for the arts. The New York Film Academy hopes return to Austin frequently to partner on these efforts.

    NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services has been privileged to enroll and support more than 1,500 veteran students and military dependents at its U.S. campuses since 2009. Many NYFA programs are approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits, and the Los Angeles and South Beach campuses also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

    April 27, 2018 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, Veterans • Views: 1153

  • From Navy SEAL to 12 Strong With New York Film Academy Alum Kenny Sheard

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFew people have the grit and the determination to become a Navy SEAL, but New York Film Academy alum Kenny Sheard has shown that no matter what he sets his mind to, he brings in the full force of his incredible work ethic, talent, and stamina. After honorably serving in the Navy for 12 years and attaining a place with the world famous, elite Navy SEALS, Sheard has managed to forge an entirely new and challenging path for himself in the civilian world as an actor and stunt performer in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and series.

    Sheard booked his first stunt job in the Transformers franchise while still actively serving in the reserves, and from there, came to NYFA to master new skills in Filmmaking. Since then, his creative career has skyrocketed, with stunt credits in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fear of the Walking Dead, Logan, and the upcoming Avatar 2, among many many more. His acting credits continue to build up as well, with his most recent appearance alongside Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong, now available to stream on Amazon.

    NYFA alum Kenny Sheard via IMDB

    Through it all, Sheard has worked hard to keep learning, stay humble, and encourage fellow veterans as they transition to civilian life. Here, he shares his best advice and some of his story with the NYFA Blog. Check out what he has to say:

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    KS: I’m originally from Miami, FL, and attended College in Newburg, NY, for a few years, but didn’t finish. I moved home, joined the military in May of 2001, and served on active duty until May 2013. In 2010, while assigned to a training command, I was given an opportunity to use my saved up leave (vacation time) to play a minor stunt/acting role on Transformers 3. That experience and a multitude of things that followed are what ultimately lead me to the Filmmaking course at NYFA.

    NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most about film? What stories are you most passionate to tell?

    KS: Films have entertained and inspired me as far back as I can recall. I enjoy reading; however, films have had a more substantial impact on me. In my experience, I’m able to feel and perceive the world through this visual medium in ways that I might not ever have had the chance to, like through a mother’s loving eyes or a tormented serial killer. Personally, I prefer fiction over reality-based stories. That said, some of the most influential films I’ve seen have also been “based on true story” movies. The stories I’m passionate to tell lean on the darker and grittier side.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    KS: I don’t have any favorite standout moments, but I got a ton out of the experience. The teachers were knowledgeable and went above and beyond.

    NYFA: As a veteran, what is your best advice to fellow veterans and active service members interested in transitioning into the visual and performing arts?

    KS: My advice would be to stay focused on your goals/dreams, be true to who you are always, and destroy the ego. Use the discipline, structure, and attention to detail you’ve acquired from your time of service and apply it to your new creative ventures in life.

    Have a work hard, hustle attitude, with a positive and open mind. Don’t ever hang your choice to serve over anyone’s head, ever.

    Sounds like a cheesy poster, but hey, get after it!

    NFYA: You launched your career in the Transformers franchise while still serving in the reserves. What was that experience like?

    KS: Being a part of Transformers was awesome. I met Michael Bay and Harry Humphries through a friend, Echy.

    I can’t say enough great things about Bay and being exposed to a film set like that. I enjoyed every moment, and it came at a time when I had no idea what to do next in life. If I tried to put words to the whole experience and what it’s meant to me, it would degrade it.

    NYFA: You’ve worked in some incredibly successful, major films — from John Wick to 13 Hours and Transformers: Age of Extinction. What is your best advice to our students to prepare for the transition from school to a large-scale blockbuster set?

    KS: That’s a tough one. I think some people get it, and some don’t. I can’t imagine anything I write here might shatter any glass for readers. See my advice to veterans; it applies to all.

    NYFA: Acting and stunts — how does your preparation process change depending on your work?

    KS: These are two very different worlds, which I’m on the bottom of the barrel in both. When it comes to acting, I’m just playing myself. Other than knowing my lines, which have yet to be extensive, there’s not a ton of prep for me.

    Stunts, on the other hand, require a ton of prep. I think I need to point out here that I’m relatively green in the stunt world. The pool of talent I’ve had the honor of working with in the stunt world is insane, and I’m far from being considered anyone of a high caliber. My tactical background has helped me out tremendously, but I’m still learning a ton every project I’m on.

    NYFA: What is your favorite part of working in stunts? Have there been any surprises and challenges along the way, and how do you overcome them?

    KS: My favorite part of working in the stunt community has been the people. Every project I’m on, I’m always impressed with the talent and comradery. I can’t say that I’ve ever been surprised, but it’s always challenging and fun.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about 12 Strong? What was that filming experience like?

    KS: 12 Strong was an outstanding experience. From meeting the guys whom the story was about, to working with all the talented actors and stunt team, it was awesome. I wouldn’t know where to start, the director and producers were solid to work for as well.

    It’s a hard thing telling a true story, and I think Nicolai Fuglsig did an exceptional job. The men who the story is about were very pleased with it, and you can’t ask for anything better than that. I was deeply honored to play Bill Bennett, a medic who later lost his life overseas in Iraq in 2003.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kenny Sheard for taking the time to share his story with the NYFA community. 12 Strong is available to stream on Amazon.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail