Community Highlights

  • NYFA LA Documentary Dept. Hosts Sundance, IDA and Film Independent

    nyfa la

    Ten New York Film Academy Los Angeles documentary students had the opportunity recently to practice their pitching skills before representatives of three of the most influential organizations in the documentary world; Rahdi Taylor, Director of the Sundance Documentary Fund, Marjan Sarfinia, President of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association, and Francisco Velasquez, Senior Manager for Film Independent’s Project Involve. The ten students pitched both short and long form documentaries on a wide variety of subjects. Taylor, Sarfinia and Velasquez then responded to each pitch with constructive feedback. “Very impressed overall with your students,” Sarfinia wrote after the event. “You have an impressive group of students, “ wrote Taylor, “Their hard work and preparation really shows–strong pitches and projects.” Velasquez was also impressed, writing, “It was very stimulating to hear your students pitch. All had terrific projects.”

    The experience was rewarding for the students. Carolina Sosa Andres said afterwards, “Doing the pitch in front of all these important people was really helpful. I felt a little bit nervous but at the same time it’s great practice. Everybody should try it!” “I learned that if you are nervous just share that with the audience and they’ll empathize and create a supportive space,” said Eva Luna Marini (Summer 15 MFA). Ardrien Newell (Fall 14 MFA) commented, “It was a very good experience to be able to pitch an idea in front of professionals. They gave helpful feedback that will definitely be used!”

    November 24, 2015 • Community Highlights, Documentary Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 283

  • NYFA Students Attend ‘Our Brand is Crisis’ Premiere

    our brand is crisisRecently, New York Film Academy students were invited to the Los Angeles premiere of the political campaign film Our Brand is Crisis. Students from all departments and programs attended the Hollywood event.

    A narrative remake of the documentary by the same name, it stars Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, directed by David Gordon Green and produced by George Clooney.

    The film surrounds a Bolivian presidential candidate who is failing badly in the polls and enlists the firepower of an elite American management team, led by the deeply damaged but still brilliant strategist “Calamity” Jane Bodine (Bullock). In self-imposed retirement following a scandal that earned her nickname and rocked her to her core, Jane is coaxed back into the game for the chance to beat her professional nemesis, the loathsome Pat Candy (Thornton), now coaching the opposition.

    But as Candy zeroes in on every vulnerability – both on and off the campaign trail – Jane is plunged into a personal crisis as intense as the one her team exploits nationally to boost their numbers. Our Brand is Crisis reveals the cynical machinations and private battles of world-class political consultants for whom nothing is sacred and winning is all that matters.

    NYFA acting student Christopher Rybka details his experience on the red carpet:

    Have you ever been to a premiere before?

    This was my first time! It was really exciting because I had never been to the TCL Chinese Theater. It was interesting to see the work that goes into the event—celebrities posing in different angles for photos and doing interview after interview with different news sources. They are still on the job even though the movie is done.

    Did you go with anyone?

    A lot of my classmates were there. I don’t have many occasions to wear a full three-piece suit, so it was great to suit up and see everyone else dressed to the nines. When I got the email saying I had tickets, I called my mom and she flew in from Texas to go with me. She loved it.

    Did you see Sandra Bullock?

    I saw her from a distance but I didn’t get a chance to say hello or anything. But I did say hi to George Clooney. And the director invited me to the after party, but I didn’t have a ticket. Still appreciated the offer though.

    What did you think of the film?

    The performances were amazing. As an actor, I was completely enraptured by Sandra Bullock as Jane, and she had great chemistry with Billy Bob. Their rivalry was fun to watch.

    November 23, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 294

  • Northern Exposure Star Janine Turner Video Chats with NYFA Students on Acting and Activism

    On November 18th, acting students from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles were virtually visited by Northern Exposure star Janine Turner to discuss her career as an actress and activist.

    Growing up in Texas, Turner started modeling at a young age. At fifteen she moved to New York City on her own dime to become the youngest model at Wilhelmina Modeling Agency.  By seventeen she progressed to acting in Hollywood.

    janine turner

    After initial damsel in distress characters on shows like A-Team, Dallas, and Knight Rider, Turner cut her hair and studied the craft of acting at the Actor’s Studio. “I made lifelong friends with the people from acting class,” she remarked fondly.

    Turner persevered through career lulls because of her personal faith, passion for the industry and drive to succeed. With a broken engagement and eight dollars in her bank account, Turner was on the verge of giving up acting for good. After getting lost trying to run away from Manhattan, she returned to the city to audition for a television pilot. With that audition, she landed the role of Maggie O’Connell on the much beloved ensemble series Northern Exposure.

    She explained her acting process to students, following the sensory method. Turner went to the executive producers to learn more about Maggie. With each script she would call her acting coach, go over her scenes and make specific choices for her character. On set, she balanced maintaining her sensory emotive state for the character and remaining her friendly self with the cast and crew. When it comes to the notes from multiple directors on a season, Turner advised, “Listen and be open-minded, but stay true to the character—take what you like and leave the rest.”

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    Janine Turner has been in notable movies like Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone, Dr. T and the Women and hit shows like Friday Night Lights. Her current passion is towards activism. “Thespians are great humanitarians; it’s a wonderful way to feed the soul,” Turner notes. She launched and co-chairs the Constituting America foundation. It’s mission is to educate America’s youth about the importance of the United States Constitution, and encourages them to write and direct short films, PSA, and songs about the founding document and how it has shaped and protects our civil liberties.

    We thank Janine Turner for taking time to speak with us and wish her great success with her career and foundation.

    November 20, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 287

  • NBCUniversal Presents Career Opportunities for NYFA Student Veterans

    NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies, is dedicated to hiring the newest generation of veterans. This week, NBCUniversal Campus 2 Career recruiters spent a few hours with New York Film Academy student veterans as part of NYFA’s Veteran Appreciation Week. The event was sponsored by the Office of Veterans Services, and brought together more than 45 veterans.

    nbcu at nyfa

    “This was an incredible experience for the students to receive real world knowledge and gain creative ways to network,” said Former US Navy member and current NYFA Veterans Coordinator, Eric Brown.

    The NBCUniversal Campus 2 Career Internship Program offers one of the most competitive media opportunities in the industry. The internships give students real-life experience, robust learning opportunities on the job and through NBCs campus curriculum. NBCUniversal also offers the “Page Program” to graduates, which is a yearlong program that provides a unique experience within the media industry while also training and developing future company leaders.

    NBC Universal Campus 2 Career Internship Program will help NYFA veterans create a cutting edge pathway in media, production and marketing of entertainment while learning from industry professionals.

    “This was very exciting and informative in regards to learning about internships for NBC Universal,” said Doug Prideaux, a BFA Acting veteran student. “I really do appreciate them reaching out and helping veterans potentially gain jobs.”

    On behalf of NYFA and its Veterans Affairs team, we’d like to thank NBCU’s Internship Program for spending time with our student veterans in Los Angeles.

    November 16, 2015 • Academic Programs, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 419

  • Los Angeles Photography Students’ Excursion to Hawaii

    Photography students from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles campus spent a week on Kona, Big Island of Hawaii, engaged in a variety of tours and activities.

    Monday, the students walked around to get to know the town of Kona. The students shot photos of historical buildings, fishermen, locals, wildlife and the ocean. It was a brutally hot day; even the locals said it was unusually scorching, so with that they treated themselves to a popular local Kona Coffee Ice Cream. In the afternoon, the group went to a nearby beach to take photos and cool off.

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    Evening beach at the hotel

    Tuesday, the group visited the green beach that is famous on this large island. They all drove to the top entrance of a trail that led to a green sand beach, only one of five in the whole world! The drive was breathtaking, open fields and gale force winds, horses and cliff sides and even a windmill farm. The students decided to hike to the beach that took about an hour and ended at the top of a cliff looking down to a beautiful and secluded olive-colored sand beach. The group swam, shot pictures of the area then headed back up the trail.

    Wednesday, the students went to a black sand beach. The wildlife was abundant, with a marsh on one side full of geese, small birds and lavender flowers, and the ocean on the other side we found turtles that had come to shore to rest. Everyone watched the sunset then headed back to the hotel.

    On Thursday, they went to a local coffee farm in Kona. Kona is famous for its coffee, mostly because of its roasting methods. Everyone enjoyed the tour that showed each step of a coffee bean, from tree to cup. Students were able to sample the coffee as well as feed the farm’s chickens.

    hawaii nyfa beach

    Green beach

    The group then walked around the town adjacent to the farm, where there were lines of art galleries of different types: sculpture, jewelry, photography, painting and even ukulele makers. Then the skies really opened up, and the rain came down so violently that the roads were flooding and the river overflowed. After the rain cleared, everyone made it down the hill to have an authentic Hawaiian meal as they sat on the beach to watch the sun set.

    Friday was spent going to Kole Kole beach, where a fresh water river meets a saltwater ocean. The students hiked to Waipio Valley, childhood home of King Kamehameha, where they hiked down the lush valley with local birds and bugs and no cell service to Hillawe Falls. When hiking back up, a tropical rain soaked them all!

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    Volcano with rising moon

    On the day before departure, the group headed to the volcano Mount Kilauea. It is an active volcano, although it hasn’t erupted in years. They also walked through a lava tube, which is an underground tunnel that lava carves out when it’s flowing from a volcanic eruption. Later, they headed to the top of the volcano, where the temperature dropped to the fifties. They took photos of the glowing crater where steam rose out of the volcano’s opening. Steam vents also released the sulfur clouds all around, and by standing near them you could warm up considerably. The group ended at the lookout of the caldera, and the moon began to rise after a light rain had passed over. As the sky grew darker, the glow of the volcano became an intense red-orange—with the contrast of the moon it looked surreal.

    The group was ecstatic about their excursion and their shots, and ended the day with another Hawaiian meal and headed back.

    November 9, 2015 • Community Highlights, Photography, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 411

  • NYFA Musical Theatre to Perform ‘Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel’

    carouselContinuing on the success of its last three musical productions, the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program is gearing up for its for fourth stage performance, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, which will take place from November 20-22nd at the American Theatre of Actors in New York City. Based on Ferenc Molnar’s play Liliom, as adapted by Benjamin F. Glazerthe play centers on a Maine coastal village toward the end of the 19th century. The lead male is a swaggering, carefree carnival barker, Billy Bigelow, who captivates and marries the naive millworker, Julie Jordan. Billy loses his job just as he learns that Julie is pregnant and, desperately intent upon providing a decent life for his family, he is coerced into being an accomplice to a robbery. Caught in the act and facing the certainty of prison, he takes his own life and is sent ‘up there.’ Billy is allowed to return to earth for one day fifteen years later, and he encounters the daughter he never knew. She is a lonely, friendless teenager, her father’s reputation as a thief and bully having haunted her throughout her young life. How Billy instills in both the child and her mother a sense of hope and dignity is a dramatic testimony to the power of love. It’s easy to understand why, of all the shows they created, Carousel was Rodgers & Hammerstein’s personal favorite.

    “Carousel has always played a part in my life as a performer,” said director and choreographer, Chad Austin, who is an instructor at the New York Film Academy. “I have danced the role of ‘carnival boy’ in multiple productions. I knew we had the talent to tackle this massive musical, and I felt it was a great time to produce a Golden Age Musical!”

    Chad Austin with NYFA's Carousel cast

    Chad Austin with NYFA’s Carousel cast

    The NYFA cast has worked diligently these past few months going through the rehearsal process because for most of them this show is a huge stretch, both as dancers and actors. Some consider Carousel one of the best books of a musical—that alone tells you how much they have been digging into the character work in order to tell the story.

    Taking on both director and choreographer was a thrill and challenge,” added Austin. “Luckily, I was able to create most of the choreography months before with my amazing associate choreographer, Ilda Mason [NYFA Musical Theatre alumna]. While creating the concept of the show I had the freedom to make choices that might otherwise not have happened if I wasn’t wearing both hats. I think by opening night the audience will be blown away by the level of talent we have at NYFA.”

    Austin believes the performance will not only introduce a classic to our students, but also provide a story that will resonate with today’s modern audience.

    “The struggle with Carousel and other musicals from its era is that audiences sometimes feel disconnected from the material. When you strip down the themes of Carousel and tell the story it is simple and touches people of all ages. I hoped to turn an epic musical into a intimate one.”

    NYFA students, employees, and alumni may purchase up to two $10 tickets with Jordan Dragutsky in room 420 at NYFA Battery Place.

    All other general admission tickets are available at

    Music by Richard Rodgers
    Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
    Based on Ferenc Molnar’s play “Liliom”
    As Adapted by Benjamin F. Glazer
    Original Dances by Agnes de Mille
    Directed & Choreographed by Chad Austin
    Music Direction by Joshua Zecher-Ross and Anna Ebbesen
    Production Stage Manager: Jhanae Bonnick
    Associate Choreographer: Ilda Mason
    Associate Director: Beatriz Cavalieri
    Produced by Kristy Cates, Mark Olsen, and Jordan Neil Dragutsky
  • NYFA Holds Panels at ComiKaze Expo

    comikazeNew York Film Academy’s Screenwriting Department presented three engaging and interactive panels about Transmedia and Franchise Development at Stan Lee’s ComiKaze, a comic book convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center over Halloween weekend. Associate Chair of the Screenwriting Department, Adam Finer moderated all three panels, and faculty member Josh Eiserike (G. I. Joe: Renegades) was a panelist for the three back-to-back sessions discussing transmedia storytelling—how stories have evolved and how to build stories and franchises across multiple platforms.

    In the first panel, Adam and Josh discussed various story world franchises—from comic book superheroes, to television shows and novels, and even My Little Pony. They also explored how different platforms (Web, television, comics, live events and more) enhanced the story and fan experience—and how crucial fan engagement is to building franchises.

    nyfa comikaze

    In the second panel, Adam and Josh were joined by fellow faculty member Margaret Dunlap (The Lizzie Bennett Diaries) to listen to audience pitches and help workshop ideas. They spoke about the importance of understanding the best platform to launch an idea—often encouraging audience members to start small with comic books or Web series. Audience members also offered feedback on looking at similar properties to the pitches and were encouraged and inspired to create their own worlds.

    For the final panel on Life In Transmedia, Adam, Josh and Margaret were joined by Transmedia Storyteller Alane Adams (Founder of the Rise Up Foundation and author of the Young Adult series Legends of Orkney and its location-based game BattleKasters) and fellow NYFA instructors Christina Weir (Arli$$, New X-Men), and Scott Rogers (God of War, the Maximo series, Pac-man World and author of Level Up! The Guide To Great Video Game Design and Swipe This! The Guide to Great Touchscreen Game Design).


    Adam moderated this lively discussion about creating for different platforms, where ideas come from, how to determine the best place to start, the joys of collaboration and how to survive while pursuing a passion for creating.

    November 6, 2015 • Community Highlights • Views: 403

  • NYFA Documentary Grads to Premiere at DOC NYC

    doc nyc

    America’s largest documentary film festival, DOC NYC, will be held from November 12-19th in New York City. The New York Film Academy Documentary Department is proud to announce that five of its graduates will be screening at this year’s prestigious festival on Friday, November 13th at 10:30am.

    “Every NYFA film here absolutely deserves to premiere at such an important festival,” says NYFA’s Documentary Chair Andrea Swift. “At once entertaining and important, each of the five tells a surprising story in a voice all to its own.”

    The New York Film Academy films include:


    In addition to our graduates’ films, we encourage students to check out the following screenings at DOC NYC:

    • DYING OF THE LIGHT unpacks the debated transition to digital projection, ending the reign of film after more than a century. As the technology has changed, moving obsolete film projectors into the realm of the odd collector, the skills of seasoned film projectionists are also in danger of being lost forever. (7:15 PM, Wednesday November 18 at Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas)
    • HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY chronicles a remarkable sixty-year partnership and pays tribute to the unsung talents behind a staggering number of cinema classics from storyboard artist Harold Michelson and film researcher Lillian Michelson. Though largely uncredited, they left an indelible impression on films like The Birds, The Graduate and Rosemary’s Baby. (9:30 PM, Tuesday November 17, and 2:45 PM, Wednesday November 18 at IFC Center)
    • WOMEN HE’S UNDRESSED tells the story of the Oscar-winning costume designer Orry-Kelly. Drawing upon clips from his work in Hollywood classics – Some Like It Hot, An American in Paris, Irma la Douce – Armstrong captures Kelly’s on-screen genius. (9:15 PM, Sunday November 15 at SVA Theatre)
    • CLAUDE LANZMANN: SPECTRES OF THE SHOAH reflects on French journalist Claude Lanzmann’s journey to make a documentary about the Holocaust. (7:30 PM, Thursday November 19 at SVA Theatre), and Reel in the Closet, which projects the viewer back in time through home movies, opening a fascinating window into the surprising vibrancy of unheralded LGBT lives. (2:15 PM, Saturday November 14 at IFC Center)
    • RAIDERS!: THE STORY OF THE GREATEST FAN FILM EVER MADE is the story of three Mississippi preteens set out to pay tribute to their favorite film in 1982. Committed to making their own version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, they spent seven eventful summers recreating the epic adventure, shot for shot – with the exception of one scene beyond their scope. When footage of their project surfaces decades later, becoming a sensation, it reignites their drive to finally finish their low-budget masterpiece, no matter what

    The festival is offering an eight-day series of talks, panels, masterclasses, and professional development workshops called DOC NYC Pro, which is perfect for students interested in diving deeper into the filmmaking process. We hope to see you all there!

  • “Thor,” “Kong,” and “Alien: Paradise Lost” to Film at Village Roadshow Studios in Australia

    One of the immediate and most obvious benefits of having a film school inside the confines of a movie studio is the unprecedented access to the movie industry and the behind-the-scenes exposure to major motion pictures. Similar to our Los Angeles campus, which offers workshops on the Universal Studios backlot, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast Australia location offers programs on the backlot of Village Roadshow Studios adjacent to Warner Bros Movie World in Queensland, Australia.

    Given its resources and state-of-the art studio space, the Queensland studio will be the filming location of three upcoming major motion pictures, including the third installment of Thor, Kong: Skill Island, and Alien: Paradise Lost.

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    Village Roadshow Studios


    “Queensland offers an amazing and diverse backdrop for Thor: Ragnarok and we are very excited to bring this film to such an incredible locale,” said Louis D’Esposito, Co-President of Marvel Studios.

    This has become a serious location option for many studio films, with Queensland’s Village Roadshow Studios already having been the location for the Scooby Doo films, House of Wax, Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Daybreakers, and Fools Gold amongst many others. Just this past year we saw NYFA Australia Gold Coast Chair of Acting, Brad McMurray and One-Year Acting Grad, Nick Allen-Ducat in San Andreas—starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Paul Giamatti—which also filmed in Queensland.

    “As our economy diversifies, Queensland is demonstrating its strength as a lead destination for filmmakers both internationally and locally, and my government is doing what it can to ensure that Queensland remains a global hub for the screen sector,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

    nyfa gold coast students

    As is the goal with all of NYFA’s programs, the Gold Coast location offers a real world filmmaking experience in a truly hands-on curriculum. There are several course offerings available, including our hands-on intensive Two-Year FilmmakingOne-Year Filmmaking, Two-Year Acting for Film and One-Year Acting for Film programs as well as short-term and evening workshops.

    For more information about NYFA’s Gold Coast campus, please visit:

  • NYFA LA Welcomes Tony Richmond as New Cinematography Chair

    The New York Film Academy Los Angeles is pleased to announce Tony Richmond, A.S.C., B.S.C., as its new Faculty Chair of the Cinematography Department.

    Born and raised in London, Richmond began at the age of 16 as a messenger with Associate British Cinemas and later with Pathe-News, where he was promoted to the camera department. He next worked as Assistant Cameraman on such films as: Call Me BwanaFrom Russia with LoveDevil-Ship PiratesThe GorganA Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum; Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 and David Leans’s Dr. Zhivago.

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    Tony Richmond and Anjelica Huston on the set of “Bastard Out of Carolina”

    The award-winning cinematographer went on to numerous collaborations as Director of Photography for director Nicolas Roeg, lensing five of his films: Don’t Look Now — for which Richmond won the prestigious BAFTA award; The Man Who Fell To Earth; Bad Timing; Heart Of Darkness; and Full Body Massage for Showtime. Some of Richmond’s other credits include: The Sandlot; Candyman; Stardust for Michael Apted; Playing God; Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Rough Riders for John Milius; Silver Bears for Ivan Passer, That’s Life and Sunset for Blake Edwards; The Eagle Has Landed for John Sturgesand The Greek Tycoon for J. Lee Thompson. He also served as DP on Tony Goldwin’s directorial debut Walk On The Moon, Sean Penn’s directorial debut Indian Runner, and Anjelica Houston’s directorial debut Bastard Out Of Carolina, and collaborated again with her on Agnes Brown and Riding The Bus With My Sister.

    Richmond was also responsible for photography on the seminal British music scene of the late 60’s. He shot the Rolling Stones classic, Sympathy For The Devil for Jean-Luc Godard, and then collaborated with Michael Lindsey Hogg on The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus and the Beatles’ Let It Be. His other rock and roll credits include: The Who’s The Kids Are Alright, as well as the Documentary Glastonbury Fayre.

    Richmond will be taking over New York Film Academy’s Cinematography Program, which currently has a strong curriculum with a focus on hands-on, intensive learning.

    “I believe that students learn cinematography by going out and shooting movies, and both the MFA and One-Year Cinematography programs offer our students the opportunity to make many projects,” said Richmond. “They have access to the latest equipment and technology, which we teach in combination with the fundamental concepts of visual storytelling.”

    In recent years, Richmond has taught the next generation of cinematographers. He relishes mentoring aspiring filmmakers and looks forward to meeting with our students to discuss their needs on upcoming projects. Moving forward as Faculty Chair of the Department, Richmond hopes to strengthen NYFA’s connections to the professional film industry and maintain its position as one of the premier schools to study cinematography.

    “I want to share the lessons I learned in my early days working with David Lean, Nicolas Roeg, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Blake Edwards, John Sturges, and pass this knowledge on to the next generation of cinematographers and filmmakers,” added Richmond. “I have worked as a cinematographer and director at the highest levels of the film business, and I understand what it takes to have a successful career in a very challenging industry. Though I started my career in a different era, I believe I can offer the students a perspective on how to do the cinematographer’s job, and how to work in a business that is constantly changing.  Personal relationships are still key to your success as a filmmaker.”


    Tony Richmond on set of Nicholas Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now”

    Richmond stressed that though there have been a number of changes in how movies are made, personal relationships and networking are still the key to making it in the film business. You need to know how to do the job, you need to have a strong eye and you need to be good at working together with the director and everyone on the crew to put a great story on the screen. He also strongly recommends that current student filmmakers and recent graduates utilize the Internet and social media as way to get their work seen. In today’s modern entertainment world, they can act as your calling card into the business.

    In closing, we’re thrilled and honored to have Tony Richmond as the new Chair of NYFA Los Angeles Cinematography Program. We believe Mr. Richmond will help guide our program to continue its development as one of the most rewarding schools for aspiring cinematographers.

    October 15, 2015 • Cinematography, Community Highlights • Views: 1021