• NYFA Veteran BFA Film and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Joins We Are The Mighty

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick

    NYFA Veteran alumnus Tim Kirkpatrick is on the road to success, joining the team at We Are The Mighty (WATM) after completing both is BFA in Filmmaking and MFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy.

    While serving with U.S. Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (Known as Dark Horse) as an FMF U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, Tim Kirkpatrick wrote his first script during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-2011. Tim’s experiences in Afghanistan, and his passion for films, led him to pursue his passion of filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.

    After returning stateside and transitioning out of the U.S. Navy, Tim pursued his education at the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) in Burbank CA. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Filmmaking and then completed his Master’s degree in Screenwriting, all at NYFA.

    It was while Tim was enrolled at NYFA that he attended an employment and internship event hosted by NYFA’s Veterans Office, which featured the veterans organization We Are The Mighty (WATM).

    Tim’s skill set matched the WATM mission, which is to engage and entertain America’s 114 million military, veterans and their families with original content, branded campaigns and experiential events across multi-channel platforms and distribution partners.

    He was offered an internship with WATM. Tim succeeded as an intern and was eventually hired full-time. He is currently serving as the editorial coordinator for WATM, working underneath David Gale, WATM’s CEO. Mr. Gale was previously an executive at MTV Networks.

    Tim is truly a Renaissance man. In addition to using his talents on behalf of We Are The Mighty, he also works as a military consultant, and has successfully written, produced, and directed several short films, music videos, and commercials.

  • NYFA Veterans Attend Exclusive Screening of “Dunkirk”

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

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    July 27, 2017 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking, Veterans • Views: 1593

  • NYFA Veterans Division Screens “Between Iraq and a Hard Place” With Special Guest Q&A

    This month, the New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) hosted a special screening of the military documentary, “Between Iraq and a Hard Place,” at its Los Angeles campus.

    Following the screening, NYFA Acting Instructor Michael Bershad moderated a Q&A with the film’s producer, Rex Pratt, and current MFA acting student, technical advisor and retired Navy/Marine Corps Chaplain Ron Ringo.

    (Left to Right) Moderator Michael Bershad discusses the process of making the film withProducer Rex Pratt and current MFA student and Technical Advisor Ron Ringo.

    The film takes a deep look at the impact that war has on members of our nation’s military when they return from home, and asks the question; Are we are really doing enough to help service members with this transition?

    Packed with raw and unfiltered footage from the war and personal interviews with the men that were there, the film helps the audience gain a valuable perspective on the issues that face our returning men and women who serve our country in the military.

    Marine Corps Veteran and BFA filmmaking student David Jimenez said:

    The film hit home. It captured the stress and fear of combat and how we still manage to have a sense of humor about things, and push through it all. The fact that they mention the difference between coming home on a ship and coming home on a plane is actually astonishing since no one normally thinks of that. I came home on a plane and I was literally on the I-5 freeway going home 25 hours after a mortar attack in the Middle East. The last scene in the film when they are being mortared was powerful. I remember being that scared when it happened to me. That is something that I don’t normally talk about with people.”

    For more information on “Between Iraq and a Hard Place,” please visit the film’s website


    by Michael Kunselman

  • NYFA Filmmaking Alumnus Samuel Nieves Interns With NFL Films

    Jer OTR1NYFA filmmaking alumnus Sam Jeremy Nieves has not only navigated the transition from military to civilian life, but also the transition from life as a film school student to securing a coveted spot as a Cinematography Intern with NFL Films.

    Sam took some time out of his busy schedule to share with the New York Film Academy community about his incredible journey, and the determination to do “whatever it takes” that has inspired his hard work along the way.

    NYFA: Hi Sam, congratulations on your upcoming internship with NFL Films! To start off, can you tell us a little bit about where you’re from and why you decided to study at the New York Film Academy?

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    Sam Jeremy Nieves

    SJN: I was born and raised in Philadelphia. It’s a very hard-working, hands-on type of city, which is how I learn best. I knew at about age 14 that I wanted to go to film school, while shooting mini-chase scenes with my hot wheels cars, taking classes for film photography and mass media, and doing video work for my church.

    When the time came, however, I could not afford film school and was devastated, but still determined to take whatever detour necessary to get where I wanted to go. The “detour” in this case was the Marine Corps. I knew I could use the G.I. Bill to help pay for college, so I chose to become a Combat Photographer (turning down a $25,000 bonus offer for another military job, in the process) with the Marines, earning my G.I. Bill, and making my own way to college.

    I was stationed at Miramar (where they filmed “Top Gun”!) in San Diego, and Camp Pendleton, which put me in California towards the end of my enlistment. Originally, I had my sights set on attending film school in Florida, but already living in California, I began searching for a school within the state that had a very hands-on type of bachelor’s degree program in filmmaking, and that also accepted the G.I. Bill. That’s when I found out about the New York Film Academy.

    NYFA: What led you to choose a path in cinematography? What inspires you most as a cinematographer?

    Cinematography Reel from Sam Jeremy Nieves on Vimeo.

    SJN: Cinematography, for me, is a deep-seated passion and craft that I’m always learning and pursuing.

    I started taking film photographs around age 10, with my mother’s camera. I was bored with the traditional photos, taken at family BBQ’s and pool parties, and I thought I could do something a little different. My mother let me use her camera more and more, encouraging me to keep going. That was the beginning of my life-long passion for creative imagery.

    Another moment I experienced, that further sealed my career choice, happened around age 17. I had been doing camera work and intro videos for my church for a few years, and one video in particular culminated with the illusion of a man being hit by a speeding car. I couldn’t wait to see what the reaction from the audience would be. When the moment came, it drew an audible gasp from the crowd of over 200 people, and it was the most incredible feeling, sitting among them in that moment, having created something that truly captured them for an instant, making them feel something. I knew, right then, that I wanted to keep on doing this for a long time, creating images, and experiences like that for people to lose themselves in.

    Initially, I wanted to enroll in the cinematography program at NYFA, but it’s a master’s degree program rather than a bachelor’s. So, I chose the filmmaking program instead, seeing it as an opportunity to shoot more projects as the lone cinematographer in a class full of directors.

    Inspiration, for me, comes primarily from music, or other people’s work. I love hearing a great piece of music, and translating the emotions of it into visual ideas. I’m also a big fan of Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki. I think their work is incredible, and innovative, and their attitudes toward their craft are very humble.

    NYFA: As a veteran student, you’ve transitioned both from military to civilian life, and from film school to securing a competitive internship. What advice would you offer to fellow students facing similar transitions?

    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    SJN: The transition from military to civilian life can be very different, from person to person, but I think the success of my own transition came from having a specific goal, a plan for that goal, and following through with it. Never go into a transition without some sort of plan, or at least an idea of what you want to do, especially when you have the advantage of knowing when that transition will happen.

    My goal, even before enlisting with the Marine Corps, was to go to film school. My plan was to apply to my school of choice, set up my G.I. Bill, and find a new apartment, all within the last 12 months of my enlistment. I followed through with that plan, and ended up with a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking, that I am very proud of, and thankful for.

    The next transition was much more difficult to navigate, but again, having a specific goal in mind was essential. I was about to graduate film school with a family to take care of (my wife and newborn son), no more G.I. Bill benefits (which paid for our apartment), and no income. It was the most challenging time of my life, and it deeply tested my passion, and career choice. I knew that if I was going to make it work, I’d have to get out of my comfort zone, and be willing to do whatever it takes. This seems to be where a lot of people get stuck and give up, but if you really want it, you have to be passionately stubborn, and push through the inevitable challenges. You really have to take advantage of every avenue you can, especially in an industry like this, where everyone’s path seems vastly different.


    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    My wife and I decided to move back home, with my parents, who graciously prepared the whole first floor of their house for us to stay in until we could find a job and an apartment. This really seemed like an embarrassing step backward, but again, I knew I had to be willing to make difficult decisions, and do whatever it takes to make this work. You often hear “it’s all about who you know,” and this quote was always very frustrating to me because I felt as though I didn’t have a dad that was a famous Hollywood director, or a great aunt that was some famous executive producer. But sometimes, “the people you know,” aren’t that obvious.

    One person that was extremely helpful was Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development at NYFA, Barbara Weintraub. Barbara incredibly makes herself available as a resource to the entire school, and can be that “person you know,” to help along the way. She helped me restructure my resume and fine-tune my cover letter when I was applying to NFL Films, and answered any questions I had about the process.

    I also found out, through conversation, that my uncle had a co-worker who had worked for NFL Films in the past, so I asked my uncle if he could talk to him for me. He said “of course,” and also showed him my resume and cover letter, which gave him enough confidence to contact NFL Films on my behalf, referring me for the interview I was after.

    It’s great if you have someone who can help you land the interview, but at the end of the day, they can only get you in the room, it’s up to you to get the job.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA prepared you for pursuing this internship opportunity?


    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    SJN: I know that my time at NYFA was very important in my pursuit of this internship opportunity. I also recognized early on that it was up to me to get the most out of my college experience, and not anyone else’s responsibility — including the instructors. I learned as much as I possibly could, asked questions, got my hands on every piece of camera equipment NYFA had to offer, got on as many sets as possible, and shot as many projects as time would allow.

    During my interview at NFL films, I was then able to talk about my experience with a wide variety of cameras, and formats, and my versatility in learning new equipment. I graduated NYFA, having taken full advantage of everything their program, instructors, and staff had to offer. I had gained a new confidence in my craft, and in my experience, that became evident during my interview, and had an effect on the way I spoke and carried myself.

    There were several especially great teachers that I had the pleasure of learning from at the New York Film Academy, and I made sure I learned everything I could from them, regardless of any previous experience or knowledge I might have already had, coming into the program. NYFA has a great program, for anyone who is willing to do the work, and really pursue their craft.


    Photo by Sam Jeremy Nieves:

    NYFA: Can you tell us a little bit about what will you be doing as an intern with NFL Films?

    SJN: As a Cinematography Intern with NFL Films, I will be working and learning directly from the best cinematographers in the sports industry, seeing how they operate, firsthand, on and off the football field. I will also be assisting in many ways, including prepping camera equipment, running cable, driving camera trucks, filling out camera reports, and so on.

    Interestingly, I’ve done all of those things many times on various sets during my time at NYFA, and was even asked about this during my initial interview at NFL Films. I’m looking forward to the experience because it puts me in close proximity to people who know much more than I do about the craft that I love.

    NYFA: Are you currently working on any other projects you’d like to tell us about?

    SJN: While looking for a job, or internship, I was also making myself available for freelance work. I recently worked with the Office of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, shooting video and photos of their Special Operations Group during an overnight, woodland training exercise. It was very exciting, and similar to the kind of work I did as a Combat Photographer for the Marine Corps. I also got involved with a local hockey charity event, featuring several players from the Philadelphia Flyers, during which I will also be shooting video and photos.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Sam Jeremy Nieves for sharing a bit of his story with the NYFA community and fellow Veteran students.

    July 3, 2017 • Acting, Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 2259

  • NYFA Welcomes Hire Heroes USA

    On June 24, The New York Film Academy College of Visual and Performing Arts (NYFA) Veteran Services Department was fortunate to collaborate with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. The NYFA military students also benefited from one-on-one time with the Transition Specialists from HHUSA.

    Hire Heroes and New York Film Academy

    Hire Heroes visits the New York Film Academy



    Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members.


    Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.

    The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.

    For the second half of the workshop, industry professionals from Disney Studios, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Legendary Entertainment, and Plan A Locations joined the workshop for a moderated Q&A panel discussion. Panelists discussed how they began their careers in the entertainment industry and how they’ve navigated their careers for success.

    Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.

    “We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.  

    Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”

    The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.

  • 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.


    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: 1415

  • 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.

    veterans game design

    “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: 1978

  • Student Veterans Organization Hosts Open Mic Night at Local VFW

    veterans open mic

    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: 2788

  • 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.

    nyfa veterans

    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: 2445

  • 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.

    broadcast journalism

    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: 2024