Community Highlights

  • NYFA Veteran Students Attend USC Football Game

    Veteran students attending the New York Film Academy gathered on Saturday, September 12th to attend the USC Trojans football game at the famous “Coliseum” in Los Angeles. This event was in collaboration with the Veterans Department and the Veteran Student Association at the New York Film Academy.

    usc football

    As a school committed to its veterans, the sporting event was part of an ongoing effort to bring veterans together and develop a peer-to-peer support network within the veteran student population.

    Army veteran and acting student, Doug Prideaux, had this to say about his experience at the game: “I enjoyed meeting fellow students and appreciate the support that the New York Film Academy provides to its veterans.”

    usc football

    Additionally, BFA Acting veteran student Joel Wright was thrilled to attend his first major college football game.

    Not only was it a good day for the Trojans, putting up a whopping 59 points, it was an all around enjoyable afternoon of football and camaraderie for our fellow veteran students.

    We extend our gratitude to the USC Center for Innovation and Research (CIR) on Veterans & Military Families for providing the tickets.

    football usc

    September 25, 2015 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 585

  • NYFA Screenwriting Graduates Celebrate with Industry Pitch-Fest

    On September 17th, 2015, graduating MFA, BFA, and AFA New York Film Academy Screenwriting students attended their culminating Industry Pitch-Fest Event, held at the Andaz Hotel up on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood.

    pitch fest

    A catered event and mingling opportunity for the students, executives, and faculty alike, this capstone event celebrated the New York Film Academy’s graduating MFA, BFA, and AFA Screenwriting students, offering them a professional outlet to jumpstart their careers by pitching their thesis projects to industry executives.

    These writing students, having spent their final semester in their Business of Screenwriting III class preparing and fine-tuning their pitches for their thesis film and TV projects, shined on this pinnacle evening, leaving with new professional contacts and a flurry of interest in the scripts they’d worked so hard on all year.


    screenwriting pitch

    Considered by the school to be their first night as professional screenwriters, this group of bright students brought their A-game, as they pitched agents, managers and production company representatives in a relaxed, round-table environment.

    Hosted by NYFA’s Business of Screenwriting curriculum head, David O’Leary, in conjunction with NYFA’s Screenwriting Chair Nunzio DeFilippis and Associate Chair Adam Finer, the event featured representatives from various Hollywood companies.


    screenwriting pitch fest

    Attendees included Hollywood literary agencies and management companies, including representatives from ICM, BenderSpink, Underground Management, and Next Level Entertainment, as well film and TV production companies, including Original Film, Marc Platt Productions, Taggart Productions, Closed on Monday / Oni Press, and Bright Whale Entertainment, amongst others.

    NYFA wishes to thank its participants, without whom this evening could not have been possible. Also, we’d like to extend a big congratulations to all of our May ’14 MFA, BFA and AFA graduates!

    Onwards and upwards!

    September 24, 2015 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 535

  • NYFA Student Veterans Attend Padres / Dodgers Rivalry Game

    padres game

    Veteran students presented Mr. Coy with a NYFA “signature bag” as appreciation for the wonderful experience he provided them

    Over this year’s Labor Day weekend, student veterans from the New York Film Academy were invited by the San Diego Padres Military Division to attend a game free of charge against their rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The San Diego Padres are highly supportive of our military servicemembers and veterans throughout the season and the theme for Sunday’s game was an Air Force Appreciation Day.

    padresNYFA veteran students also had the opportunity to join Matt Coy, Senior Director of Game Day Presentation in the production booth for pre-game production meetings. The students were able to sit side by side with the production staff and learn how the production of the game works first hand.

    Ruddy Cano, President of the NYFA Veterans Student Association, thanked Mr. Coy and the NYFA Veterans Support Office team for the opportunity to be behind the scenes at the San Digeo Padre’s game. Rudy stated, “It has been an outstanding experience to not only learn what it takes to produce a live major league game but how our training at NYFA actually corresponds to the real world.”

    We are grateful for the support that the San Diego Padres provide to our military and the veteran students attending the New York Film Academy.

    September 17, 2015 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 460

  • Catching Up with NYFA Athletics

    Women’s Basketball Team

    The New York Film Academy proudly recognizes our women’s basketball team, NYFA Jaguars, for making it to the finals this past weekend. Their camaraderie and teamwork paved the way for a 2nd place season end, with a final record of 8 wins and 4 losses. The team’s achievements and steadfast attitude are an inspiration to the entire school. The passion and leadership displayed by coach Kirill Yusim and team captain Talya Adams also deserve the highest praise.


    The New York Film Academy congratulates the women’s basketball team on their triumph this season. The team displayed an admirable leadership and diligence that will carry through to all sports, and there is no doubt that we will come back even stronger next year.

    Softball Team

    The New York Film Academy softball team recently made history as coach Mikki Cronkhite led her team to the championship in their first-ever season! Our team was certainly marked as the underdogs this season, but the ongoing camaraderie and determination to excel at every game propelled them to take home the title! Coach Mikki inspired the players to develop their skills and, most important, the spirit of solidarity that is crucial in any collective endeavor.


    The New York Film Academy is proud to have persistent athletes and coaches representing our school in the world of sports. Sunday, August 23rd, was a memorable day. On behalf of the Athletic Department and the New York Film Academy, we congratulate our softball team for winning the league. We are champions!

    – Adam El-Manawy

    September 9, 2015 • Community Highlights, Sports • Views: 778

  • Comedy Open Mic at NYFA Café on Lexington

    With summer winding down and many of you returning for another semester in the city, we thought perhaps you’re looking for something fun to do during the week. As such, the New York Film Academy Café at Lexington Ave. and 24th Street will be hosting an Open Mic Comedy Night, hosted by Ismael Maldonado, on Wednesday, September 9th, 2015.

    In addition to up and coming comedians, the Comedy Show will include seasoned pro’s Robyn Schall, Eman Morgan and Caitlin McKee.

    While NYFA students and alumni are strongly encouraged to participate or attend, the event is free to the general public and mics are open to all. If you’re hesitant to try our open mic, check out this one and perhaps perform at our next one! The comedy open mics will be a weekly Wednesday event that will include comedians booked by NYFA Improv instructor and comedian, Craig Fox.

    In addition, the band Lateef Beats will make a performance for all in attendance!


    Sign up for Open Mic Starts at 7PM

    Open Mic Performances start at 8PM

    September 3, 2015 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 776

  • Mark Sawicki, Chair of NYFA LA’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects

    One of the more enticing aspects of the New York Film Academy is its belief that our instructors should not only be well versed in their crafts, but also strongly established in their respective fields. As a testament to this commitment, we focus on the New York Film Academy Los Angeles 3D Animation and Visual Effects Chair, Mark Sawicki.

    After attending USC film school, Mr. Sawicki entered the film industry as a lab technician at Cinema Research Corp., where he worked on the original Superman film. He later began working as a cameraman for Roger Corman’s New World Studios on low budget sci-fi pictures such as Escape from New York. From there, he went on to shooting effects and creating award-winning animation for commercials, rock videos and 3D features including Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th Part 3.


    In 1986, he became the matte photographer for Illusion Arts, working under visual effects masters Albert Whitlock, Syd Dutton, and Bill Taylor. During this period, while working on mainstream films, Mr. Sawicki became an instructor for Kodak’s Cineon system (a landmark digital film compositing system). After a 10-year stint of compositing matte paintings at Illusion Arts, for such projects as Cape Fear, The Birdcage and Star Trek IV, he became a co-supervisor for Area 51 on Tom Hanks’ From the Earth to the Moon.

    Mr. Sawicki was later the head effects camera supervisor and digital colorist for Custom Film Effects, contributing to films such as Gangs of New York, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Tropic Thunder, and The Dark Knight Rises.

    As to reaffirming his remarkable insight into the field of animation and visual effects, Mr. Sawicki has authored three DVD’s on the art of clay animation and a documentary entitled Twilight Camerman, which focuses on the craft of optical printing available from He is also the author of the book “Filming the Fantastic: A Guide to Visual Effects Cinematography,” published by Focal Press.

    And to top it all off, Mr. Sawicki frequently performs as an actor in independent films. Indeed, an incredible career that carries with it a lifetime of knowledge and hands-on experience that can be passed on to his students.


    “Whenever possible, I will take pictures of professional green screen set-ups and share them in the classroom,” says Mr. Sawicki. “This is extremely helpful in giving the students an up to the minute, real-world exploration of what is happening in the industry today.”

    His involvement with the school’s animation and visual effects students is not only valuable to NYFA, but also to himself. “Teaching at NYFA has been a rewarding experience for me as I am able to address an international community with different insights and attitudes. The one commonality among them all is the love of movies and the desire to work hard toward their goals. It has been a pleasure to see them blossom and grow to be artists in the field.”

    His advice to students graduating from his program, with the intention on working in the field, is to build up an impressive reel and resume that can only be created by working with a small team or as a vendor on independent films and TV commercials. Graduates should expect to work on projects that may not be particularly glamorous, but getting even the most mundane animation job will keep animators focused and allow them to build credits and move up the ladder.

    As a professional who embraces most aspects of the entertainment industry, Mr. Sawicki recently wrote a feature screenplay called Call Center, which he describes as a comedy comparable to Mike Judge’s Office Space. He also has a short film in the works that he hopes will bring interest to the script.

    One thing is for sure, Mr. Sawicki’s hard work and dedication to both his career and his students is extraordinary. There is no doubt that under the tutelage of Mr. Sawicki, NYFA’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects department will continue to grow as one of the most demanding schools for aspiring animators and visual effects experts.

    August 31, 2015 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights • Views: 1038

  • NYFA Running Team Competes at Simi Valley Arroyo Creek 10K

    running team

    The New York Film Academy Running Team joined the competitive Simi Valley Arroyo Creek 10K event, with a total of 167 participants, on Sunday, August 9th 2015. Our runners overcame the difficulties of this challenge with a vigorous, energetic and determined attitude, with memorable and remarkable results. Todd Lien, an MFA Acting student, proudly represented our Academy by finishing 5th place overall, running at a consistent pace of 6:59 minutes per mile and a total time of 43:15.4 minutes. Todd was also the winner of his age category.

    nyfa running teAM

    NYFA Running Team

    Our female runners finished strong as well. Olivia Ekelund, an AFA acting student, was the winner of her age category with an impressive solid pace of 8.16 minutes per mile and a total time of 51:24.4 minutes.

    Congratulations to our runners for their exemplary spirit and achievement!

    Overall results:

    Name Overall Age Category Total Time Pace
    Todd Lien 5th 1st 43:15.4 6.59/M
    Adam El-Manawy 6th 2nd 44.48.4 7.14/M
    Olivia Ekelund 8th 1st 51:24.4 8:17/M
    Aly Covington (Coach) 10th 4th 53:50.2 8:41/M
    Cedric Beard 19th 4th 53:06.6 8:34/M
    Nuttawuthi Nakong 23rd 5th 56:19.2 9:05/M
    Rachel Moolkum 42nd 10th 1:08:49 11:06/M
    Nawaf Al Hoshani 57th 7th 1:37:19 15:42/M
    Luis Valencia 58th 8th 1:39:01 16:15/M
    Alejandra Mur 105th 17th 1:48:33 17:30/M


    August 26, 2015 • Community Highlights, Sports • Views: 515

  • Open Mic Slam at New York Film Academy Café

    open mic

    Starting this Wednesday, August 26th, 2015 at the New York Film Academy Café on the corner of Lexington Ave. and 24th street in New York City, students, alumni and New York City performers are invited to showcase their talents at our first ever OPEN MIC SLAM!

    Performances are open to live music, poetry or stand-up comedy!

    Sign up starts at 7pm. Performances start at 8pm.

    The first 25 people to sign up are allowed up to 4 minutes on stage to perform.

    There is then a 5 slot waiting list for any extra time at the end of the show. Artists must bring their own music and props for their performances.

    If you’re ready to showcase your talent, we’ll see you there!

    If you have any questions, please email Calaine Schafer at

    August 25, 2015 • Community Highlights • Views: 478

  • South African Actress Donnalee Roberts is an All Around Superstar

    Coming off the success of the popular South African television series, 7de Laan, and the feature film Klein Karoo, New York Film Academy 8-Week Acting for Film graduate Donnalee Roberts has greatly expanded her role in the South African entertainment business. Not only does the hard-working South African enjoy the artistic gratification of acting for the camera, she also loves running a business and exploring the integrated marketing and networking that goes on behind the scenes of her films.

    Her critically and commercially successful romantic adventure, Pad na jou Hart (Road to your Heart), in which Roberts played the lead actress and was co-producer and co-writer along with Ivan Botha, has been seen by over one million people thus far!

    Her more recent award-winning film, Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling (Ballad for a Stranger), which stars Roberts as Carina, had its premiere in Australia and New Zealand and had a nationwide release in South Africa. Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling is a romantic thriller based on the popular South African television series from the eighties. Not only did the series have South Africans nailed to their televisions, the film was highly acclaimed and was both a critic and box office hit, earning Tempo awards for South African Film of the Year. Donnalee also won Best Actress of the Year for both Pad na jou Hart and Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling.

    Roberts’ goal is to continue to provide original content to her native country, which has recently seen a resurgence in its film industry.

    “We have a wonderful supporting audience in South Africa that is extremely loyal to local content,” said Roberts. “I would love to have this audience grow and also keep on motivating our existing audience. As a filmmaker and storyteller, my goal is to not only make South Africans proud of the films and stories that originate in our country but to also make films that are so universal in their themes that they transcend language barriers and move people from all over the world.”
    As an independent filmmaker one knows the importance of marketing your film correctly in order to reach its full potential. That is why Roberts and her team started a marketing division within their production company which specializes in making marketing personal and creating a need for people to want to see their film.
    “In a country where we speak 11 official different languages and where we are at all times directly competing against international blockbusters, marketing has become essential. The South African film industry, specifically the Afrikaans language market films, is literally bursting out of its seams, and as a young filmmaker it is so exciting to be on the forefront of this endeavor!”

    vir altydHer upcoming film, Vir Altyd (Forever), which Roberts stars and also co-wrote and co-produced with Ivan Botha, was shot half in South Africa and half in Mauritius. Vir Altyd is a romantic adventure film that takes us on a journey through the seasons of love and the true meaning of what ‘forever’ means. Roberts and her team are currently busy with post-production and the feature film releases nationwide on February 12th, 2016.

    Roberts advice to those who are pursuing acting, especially current students is to CREATE. “In this industry we are all creative beings. Create the world you want to play in, create the characters you want to portray. It takes long hours of hard work, commitment and passion to make your dreams come true. The 8-Week Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy inspired and motivated me even more. I thought, I can now do this by myself. I don’t need to wait for success to fall onto my lap.”

    She strongly encourages actors to involve themselves more with writing and producing their own material.

    “You should never stop learning and growing,” Roberts added. “Always have a spirit of growing.”

    blake and donnalee

    Donnalee Roberts and Blake Babbitt

    Donnalee Roberts will be joining Blake Babbitt at the New York Film Academy’s audition and portfolio review event at the Davinci Hotel and Suites on Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg on September 5th at 18:00.

    The Film Academy will also be holding auditions and portfolio reviews in Cape Town on Tuesday, September 8th.

    For more information on either of these events, please email or CLICK HERE to sign up.

    August 25, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Road Show, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 2533

  • Former NFL Player-Turned-Writer Pat Hegarty Talks Business with NYFA Students

    patrick hegarty

    Patrick Hegarty

    Recently, movie and video game writer Patrick Hegarty dropped by New York Film Academy’s Business of Screenwriting class to share his remarkable journey of how this one-time professional NFL football player went on to become a professional screenwriter and video game scribe.

    Hailing from Orange County, CA, Hegarty attended the University of Texas at El Paso, where in addition to playing football on a scholarship, he earned himself a Bachelor of Arts in English. However, in 1989, he was recruited by the Denver Broncos and ended up becoming the back-up quarterback to John Elway and Gary Kubiak.

    After 2 years in the NFL, Hegarty attended the University of Colorado Denver and attained his masters in English. The initial plan was to become a novelist, get his PhD, and teach. And for a while that’s what he did, teaching high school English and writing books, including the semi-autobiographical tale, “The Dazzle of the Light” (Wexford College Press), about a troubled man coming to terms with the untimely death of his brother. “The problem with books is that they take a lot of time. A lot of time,” Hegarty smirked.

    However, a unique opportunity came for Hegarty when a friend working in the video game sphere needed a writer to generate announcer commentary material for a new football game they were producing called NFL GAMEDAY, and recruited Hegarty to write the play-by-play dialogue. “I guess they thought, given my experience, I could do it. I’m really glad they did. It opened up a lot of doors.”

    Before long, Hegarty immersed himself in video games, writing the scripts for over a dozen titles for Playstation 1 and 2, including, MLB 2002, The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning and Eragon, becoming a Senior Writer for Sony Computer Entertainment.

    “The great thing about writing video games is they give you the parameters, the plot-points, but you have a lot of freedom within those confines to make it your own,” Hegarty remarked. Hegarty soon became an acclaimed video game writer. He was a finalist at the 13th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards (Best Adapted Story for Ghostbusters video game); and a finalist at the 10th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards (Best Story – Kids’ Title for The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning video game). More recently, he was the Voice Director and Writer for Battleship, and wrote on Wipeout: The Game, NBA 2K15 and NCAA FOOTBALL 14.

    But writing in the gaming world isn’t all Hegarty has in his satchel of acumens.

    HIs first screenplay, Flower of Fire, won the prestigious Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition and garnered some industry attention. Soon, managers came clamoring, and he signed with Madhouse Entertainment, where he’s still represented.

    Another action feature script S.T.E.A.L. — about an American hiding in Brazil who is blackmailed back into his life of crime to steal back loot from ‘The Sao Paulo Seven’, a multi-national gang of expert thieves — placed on the Hit List in 2010, an industry insider’s list of the best specs screenplays in Hollywood, before selling to Fox International. It is currently in development there, with early 2016 as the scheduled start of filming.

    Hegarty has been writing TV and film projects in addition to video games ever since.

    On writing, Hegarty remarked, “You have to treat it like your day job, even when you have a day job, you have to always keep writing. I know it’s cliche, but I write every day. Maybe it’s from my discipline developed in football, but I make it my daily routine.”

    Hegarty also talked about his process, “I’m not the biggest outliner. I do it, but I don’t like to have my characters pigeon-holed into a pre-existing plot. I like them to take me to unexpected places. To let them surprise me. Sure, I’ll know the general shape of a story I’m working on, but I don’t let an outline rule the screenplay once I start writing it.”

    Hegarty advised the students to find the process that works for them. “Don’t be afraid to try it your own way. Look at Blake Snyder. His unique way of looking at things became a best-seller. And wear different hats. Many hats. Learn editing, copywriting, video game writing, directing — it’s all part of that same creative muscle. But never, ever stop writing.”

    Currently, Hegarty is working on a one hour drama pilot as well as several feature concepts. He is represented by Madhouse Entertainment and yes, he can still throw a mean spiral.

    August 14, 2015 • Game Design, Guest Speakers, Screenwriting, Sports • Views: 1567