Community Highlights

  • NYFA’s Ben Cohen Discusses Anti-Hero Movies with Fox 5

    ben cohen fox 5

    Comic book fans are becoming concerned with the notion that some of their favorite comic book heroes are becoming “evil.” Given the entertainment industry’s recent trend of creating “anti-heroes” in films like Batman versus Superman and a recent Captain America comic, Mac King from FOX 5 decided to pay the New York Film Academy a visit to get some expert feedback from instructor Ben Cohen.

    “The characters that we’re going to latch onto are the one’s that are going to be largely contradictory,” said Cohen. “That’s what makes Iron Man so fun. He can be a jerk, but, generally speaking, he wants to save the world”

    We want to marvel at our favorite heroes’ super-human abilities, but we also want to know that they have a secret weakness or “Kryptonite.”

    Given this has been the decade of Superhero movies, it’s any wonder if this trend will continue or is it rather just a fad to provide a fresh look at the popular genre?

    For a look at the Fox 5 interview at NYFA’s New York campus, watch the video below:

    May 27, 2016 • Community Highlights, Entertainment News • Views: 1861

  • NYFA’s Final Draft Fellowship Pitch Fest

    The New York Film Academy’s Final Draft Fellowship came to a close on May 12, launching the Final Draft Fellows into their careers with a Pitch Event that introduced them to potential managers and industry executives.

    final draft

    Final Draft’s Big Break Competition is a major opportunity for writers, and among the prizes for finalists and winners is a twelve-week Fellowship at the New York Film Academy. This Fellowship offered intensive screenwriting classes on Feature writing, Television writing, Rewriting, which involved a complete table-read by working actors, Business and Pitching classes, and a series of “Life In” panels by working writers in the industry: Life in Feature Films, Life in Television, and Life in Transmedia.

    Recently, this year’s winners put that Fellowship to good use, developing not just new story ideas and scripts, but also pitches for those new ideas and their contest-winning material. And they took those pitches to NYFA’s Final Draft Fellowship Pitch Event on Thursday, May 12th.

    final draft fellows

    Hosted at the Academy by Associate Chair of Screenwriting, Adam Finer, the Pitch Event was a chance for Fellows to get meetings with representation and industry figures. Each fellow met with the industry guests for half hour meetings that centered on their pitches but then continued as a way for the Fellows to make new contacts that will benefit their career. Among those in attendance were representatives from Cartel, Super Vision, and Haven Entertainment. In addition the Fellows were put in touch with Radmin Entertainment.

    The classes on preparing to pitch gave the Fellows confidence in their material, and they impressed the execs with their ideas and delivery. Many scripts were requested and several important relationships were started. Final Draft and NYFA congratulate our hard-working Fellows and we look forward to the success we are sure awaits them.

    May 18, 2016 • Community Highlights, Screenwriting • Views: 2377

  • Photography Instructor Wins Webby & People’s Voice Award for “The Dawn of the Killer Robot”

    Photography Instructor, Connelly La Mar’s documentary The Dawn of the Killer Robotswhich he and his team at Motherboard pitched, shot and produced for VICE—was awarded both a Webby Award and a People’s Voice in the best online tech film category. Established in 1996 during the Web’s infancy, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. The Webby People’s Voice Awards garners millions of votes from all over the world.

    “It is certainly humbling to receive recognition always on behalf of our team and Motherboard,” said La Mar. “I think winning the People’s Voice is special because it is by popular vote, but both awards make us remember that people do appreciate the hard work that goes into our process. So, looking at the springy curious object on a shelf somewhere down the road will always be of source of inspiration, and a reason to remember to dust.”

    killer robot

    The documentary started with a simple question about the future of weaponizing technology like robots, and why Google is gobbling up robotics companies, which are contracted to the military and involved in DARPA robotics competitions.

    “It got interesting as we met people who were on the extreme, and feared the end of humanity invoking the notion of a modern ‘John Connor’,” said La Mar. “So, an initial question about AI, Google and the military industrial-complex grew into a study of existential risk and the singularity, as we met more people at the heart of and on the periphery of the subject.”

    If you haven’t already started watching the documentary, we recommend you hit play on the video above…now. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

    May 10, 2016 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Photography • Views: 524

  • Burbank on Parade “A Salute to our Heroes”

    burbank parade

    Last month, the Burbank Parade Committee invited the New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) veteran students to march in their annual parade. A NYFA veteran student graciously displayed New York Film Academy flags and decals on his Classic Corvette.

    NYFA Veteran students also chose to walk with their fellow veterans displaying their commitment to their brothers and sisters who have served in the military.

    corvette veterans

    Paul McKenna, who served in the Army and US Marine Corps said, “I’m truly grateful as a student veteran to be in a school that understands and supports their veteran community. It’s hard to find people who truly care and are willing to go above and beyond.” Paul is currently a student pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting for Film degree.

    The New York Film Academy is proud and honored to have participated in this event along with the veteran community.

    May 3, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1932

  • Anna Serner Speaks on Behalf of Gender Equality in Film

    anna serner

    Since the beginning of 2000, the pursuit for gender equality in film has been an ongoing objective in Sweden. To reach that goal by the end of 2015, the Swedish Film Institute, led by its CEO Anna Serner, made an actionable plan with encouraging results. Under her guidance since 2011, the Swedish Film Institute has made Sweden the first-ever country to achieve 50:50 gender parity in terms of government financing for films. Last year, Serner succeeded in funding an equal number of films made by women and men in Sweden and Europe.

    On Monday night, New York Film Academy students, faculty and staff were invited to attend a special lecture and discussion with Anna Serner, CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, to hear a presentation on a topic very much in the forefront here and abroad. That topic is gender equality in the film industry. Much has been said and written about the significant pay and role disparity in the acting field and the fact that women are under represented in the directing profession both qualitatively and quantitatively.

    anna serner

    Ms. Serner, who presides over the institute, a governmental organization which reviews applications and grants funding to prospective filmmakers, presented a list of most common arguments to which she has been subjected that seek to reinforce that disparity in the Swedish film industry and tied those to the conditions that exist in the American film industry as well. The arguments include rationalizations ranging from accusations of funding by quota to ‘women just don’t want to be directors’. Her responses brought to light cultural obstacles and ways of thinking that perpetuate these misconceptions.

    Regarding the accusation of managing by quota she responded, “We don’t do quota.” She went on to say that if an organization does that they have two different funding mechanisms—quota and quality. She maintains that the primary criterion is always quality and commented at length throughout the presentation regarding the quality of female produced and directed works.

    Key to overcoming these obstacles is a system in which female filmmakers are mentored and educated on how to navigate the system. Also key to moving forward, according to Serner, is an inclusive approach that helps to change male cultural paradigms, and brings distributors in early in the development of female led projects in order to make them vested sooner in the process and appreciate the evolution of the films in question.

    April 28, 2016 • Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 702

  • NYFA Actions Basketball Team Wins Burbank Sports League

    The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts Men’s Basketball team performed admirably this Winter 2016 Season thanks to the guidance of their coach, former player, Lucius Allen, who not only played for the 1971 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks, but was also a part of the two-time NCAA championship team at UCLA in 1967 and 1968. At the beginning of the season, our NYFA Actions faced off against high-level opponents with ‘down-to-the-wire’ victories. During the mid-season reign, the team continued to grow and enhance their skills and court strategies, which paid off when they earned a solid position in the playoffs.

    nyfa basketball

    The first round of the playoffs tested the team’s training and diligence when matched against formidable teams. The games started out close, but in the end, NYFA secured victories culminating in a score of 61- 50 in their final game to end the playoff season. With their new found ethics of team work, led by coach Lucius Allen, the NYFA Actions earned their place in the championship game for the Burbank Sports League.

    The season finally came to a head this past Tuesday night when the Actions took on the Burbank ‘Wolf pack’ in the championship game of the Burbank Sports League. It was a true nail biter, but the team kept their composure and were able to keep the score close as starting point guard Jean Hyppolite led the way with 23 points.

    nyfa team with lucius

    With aggressive defense, and a well-executed offense, the Actions were able to take the lead away from the ‘Wolf pack’. They held this advantage until the end of the game with a win and a final score of 65-56.

    Coach Lucius Allen, and the entire basketball athletic staff have done an incredible job this season. We’d like to invite everyone out to the games this summer as our very own NYFA Actions will be looking to move up a division and repeat this season’s victory.

    April 26, 2016 • Community Highlights, Sports, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 468

  • NYFA Student Veterans Film Vets4Warriors PSA with Colonel Jacobs

    Last week, New York Film Academy Veteran Advancement Program’s Chair, Medal of Honor recipient Colonel (Ret.) Jack Jacobs, was delighted to host the Director of Rutgers University Behavioral HealthCare (UBHC) Major General (Ret.) Mark Graham for a collaboration that would bring the spotlight on Vets4Warriors and the wonderful accomplishments of this unique hotline.

    colonel jacobs

    Vets4Warriors is an exciting, multi-platform, peer-to-peer resource network—staffed by veterans—for veterans and military members of all eras of conflict. It is more than just a crisis hotline—the aim is to service and provide assistance to those who have been impacted by military service before an avoidable challenge or catastrophe occurs in their lives.

    Colonel Jacobs, speaking on behalf of both institutions, filmed with NYFA veteran students and production team members to create a public service announcement that will promote Vets4Warriors, now in its fifth year, to an even larger national audience.


    The partnership between the New York Film Academy and Rutgers UBHC symbolizes both institutions dedication to those who have served our country faithfully.

    April 22, 2016 • Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 659

  • NYFA’s Craig Ross Jr. to Direct Pilot for TV One

    craig rossNew York Film Academy Directing Instructor Craig Ross, Jr. has been tapped to direct an upcoming drama series from media titan Cathy Hughes. Ross has previously directed a number of high profile television shows, such as Number, Bones, Prison Break, and NCIS. Ross says he and the producers worked together in the past, and he has been on the verge of working with this network for months now.

    Hughes founded Radio One and later expanded into TV One, which went public in 1998, making Hughes the first and only African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation at the time.

    The upcoming series for TV One, tentatively titled “Cathy Hughes Presents Media,” was written by Kevin Arkadie and is being produced by Sheila Ducksworth, Susan Banks, Kevin Arkadie, and Mitchell Galin. The series is said to be a soap opera surrounding a black family with a media empire called JUMP—Jones Universal Media Productions.

    “It’s intelligent writing with suspense and dramatic twists,” says Ross. “So, yeah, that’s definitely in my wheelhouse.”

    Production is set to begin on May 9th, 2016.

    April 21, 2016 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 574

  • Colonel Jack Jacobs: The Hero’s Story Continues

    col jacobs

    Sue Jacobs, Col. Jack Jacobs, and NYFA’s Jim Miller

    Last week, at the historic Asbury Park Convention Center, almost 2,000 New “Jerseyans” gathered in the vast weather-beaten theater to celebrate the state’s most accomplished citizens. The occasion was the 8th Annual New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) induction ceremony.

    This year’s 12 inductees were selected based on a rigorous nomination and election process. The awardees were deemed to have made invaluable contributions to society and the world. Past inductees include the likes of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Yogi Berra, Meryl Streep, and Frank Sinatra.

    The 2015 honorees are no less stellar and include the New York Film Academy’s own, Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program. Colonel Jacob’s valor in Vietnam is legendary. He has earned the Medal of Honor, three Bronze Stars, and two Silver Stars, for saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers. He has had several successful careers in business, public service and the philanthropic field.

    This year’s inductees also include Jon Stewart, Derek Jeter, Kool & the Gang, and Christie Rampone; however, it was only Colonel Jacobs who received a standing ovation that night in Asbury Park. As I stood among the applauding crowd of New Jerseyans, I was overcome with gratitude, pride, and emotion, not only because Colonel Jacobs’ valor was honored in such a significant way, but also because he has unselfishly committed his limited valuable time to supporting NYFA’s veteran students.

    Congratulations Colonel Jack Jacobs! You are truly a New Jersey hero, the Nation’s hero, and a superhero of the New York Film Academy!

    April 18, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 586

  • NYFA South Beach’s Movement Club Performs at Olympia Theater

    New York Film Academy South Beach Instructor Susie K. Taylor founded The Movement Club as an outreach organization of students whose purpose is to spread light through the “healing art of acting.” Late last month, The Movement Club put on an all-female performance called “Freedom is Beauty!! #F.I.B. at Olympia Theater in Miami, Florida.

    movement club

    “The New York Film Academy South Beach is excited to be a part of the Celebration of Women’s Month at the Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami,” said NYFA South Beach Director, Elli Ventouras. “Under the guidance of our inspirational Movement Instructor Susie K. Taylor, the female performers of our Movement Club will perform an Interpreted Dance. Susie has really motivated our students to reach their full potential!”

    “In the Lobby Lounge…ETC!” is Olympia Theater’s very own homage to classic Vaudeville and variety shows. Anything from sketch comedy to alternative entertainment, burlesque and improv. Produced by the Front Yard Theatre Collective, this month’s “ETC!” featured an epic collaboration of all-female, Miami based performers, celebrating Women’s History Month.

    olympia theater

    “When I founded the Front Yard Theatre Collective, I never imagined we would find a home in the historic Olympia Theater,” said Gabriela Fernandez from The Olympia Theater. ‘Thanks to “In the lobby lounge…ETC!’ we can maintain our primary goal of offering free quality entertainment for the benefit of our community.”

    NYFA’s group performed Pick A Song, a game where a lucky audience member offers up his or her favorite song and the F.I.B creates a couture movement piece for that specific song.

    movement performance

    The experience was wonderful and Susie K. Taylor was “beyond thrilled with the students” as they joyfully applied their class work to their performance.

    Congrats to The Movement Club on putting on another successful performance. We look forward to the next show!

    April 12, 2016 • Acting, Community Highlights, Musical Theatre • Views: 579