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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
New York Film Academy students enjoying the Los Angeles Clippers game supported by the Clipper’s ‘Military Mondays’ Program.
Thanks to a generous donation by the Los Angeles Clippers to NYFA veteran students, approximately 25 students enjoyed an evening of veteran camaraderie and fun, while watching the Clippers defeat the Detroit Pistons by a score of 114-82.
‘Military Mondays’ are held on the first Monday game of every month during the regular season. The games are a small way for the Clippers organization to say ‘thank you’ to the men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Services, and to offer appreciation for their sacrifices in serving the country. During the game, they pay recognition to a ‘Hero of the Game’ in which they honor a servicemember on the court and share their story.
NYFA student and U.S. Army veteran, Maurice Roberson had the honor and privilege of singing the National Anthem in front of approximately 19,000 fans on Monday night. Maurice is currently pursuing his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting for Film.
The following evening, the Los Angeles Lakers hosted 20 NYFA veteran students for their “Salute to Our Troops” to enjoy the matchup between the LA Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks. At the start of the 2nd quarter the LA Lakers spotlighted the NYFA veterans on the jumbo tron, as the crowd cheered and applauded our veterans for their service.
Retired Army veteran and Photography Department student Vance Pritchett had this to say about the event; “Being at the game surrounded by my fellow veterans and classmates made me feel greatly appreciated. Being publicly recognized for my time in service let me know that the time that I was serving my country away from home is very much appreciated.”
The New York Film Academy is extremely grateful for the opportunity that the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers have provided to our veteran students. The NYFA Offices of Veteran Services will continue to provide professional and social opportunities to the NYFA veteran students.
Colonel Jack Jacobs chats with NYFA veteran student, Joshua Flashman, in between takes.
Commissioner Sutton was joined by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and Chair of the New York Film Academy’s Veterans Advancement Program (VAP) to send a message to both New York City veterans and the civilians who support them. They both spoke about how important the NYC community is to veterans, and how the strengths of the City’s nearly 250,000 veterans adds tremendous value to the NYC communities. Both retired servicemembers asked that— on this 2016 Veterans Day— citizens do more than simply thank veterans for their service, but also to let veterans know what a powerful asset they are as they continue to make invaluable contributions to making this the greatest city— in the greatest country— on earth.
“There’s nobody more creative than veterans,” said Col. Jacobs. “They’re the one’s who bring life experience and creativity to a profession that requires both of those attributes.”
“To see these students working at the New York Film Academy is really a thrill and an affirmation of the strengths we know our veterans have,” added Brigadier General, Sutton.
NYC Department of Veteran Services Commissioner, Loree Sutton Brigadier General (ret.) and Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and Chair of the NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program (VAP) during taping of the 2016 Veterans’ Day Message.
“It means a lot to know we’re appreciated in our community,” said NYFA Acting for Film student and veteran, Labrena Ware.
“It feels great to have a sense of brotherhood,” added NYFA student and veteran, Pavlos Plakakis, who found his acting calling in the military after being told he had a talent for boosting morale amongst the troops.
Veterans from nearly all branches of service had the opportunity to meet and speak with Commissioner Sutton and Colonel Jacobs during the filming. Those in attendance reflected about the diversity and spirit of the “Big Apple,” and also symbolized the passing of the torch from one generation of American service members to the next.