Community Highlights

  • Actor Matthew Modine Hosts NYFA Master Class for Veterans

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA), the world’s largest and most prestigious visual and performing arts private institution, is a certified and award-winning Military Friendly School committed to supporting this newest generation of veterans. NYFA is proud to serve military veterans and servicemembers in their pursuit of a world-class filmmaking education, through our Veterans Advancement Program Chaired by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient.

    Through the generosity of the New York Film Academy Foundation, on December 19 the College provided a free Master Class Workshop to military servicemembers and veterans at the School’s Los Angeles campus. The event featured veteran actor and director Matthew Modine.


    Matthew Modine with Master Class attendees

    The classes offered an exciting and unique opportunity for more than 50 military servicemembers and veterans to learn essential filmmaking and acting principles taught by members of NYFA’s esteemed faculty and Mr. Modine. Several NYFA veteran students served as technical assistants. Each branch of the military was represented including many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and the gathering proved to be an excellent environment for the attendees to network.

    Mr. Modine spoke to the group about his 30 years of experience in the industry as an actor and a director. Among his many accomplishments, Modine is known for his portrayal as “Joker” in Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece Full Metal Jacket. Modine’s role in the military film Memphis Belle also earned him critical acclaim. He has directed a number of short films and is currently in pre-production on a feature called The Rocking Horseman.

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    NYFA staff demonstrating to veteran different features of the lighting system

    The acting class, taught by NYFA faculty Christopher Cass, provided an overview of the Industry and what it takes to “make it” as an actor. The class went over basic principals of acting for the camera — shot sizes, set etiquette, listening and emotional choices for the camera. Actors then shot and played-back the scene for review and critique.

    The Filmmaking class, taught by NYFA faculty David Newman, went over the film industry employment opportunities available in the entertainment field. This class also discussed the qualities and skill sets needed to be an effective director. Participants had the chance to act and fulfill key crew roles on set (including directing, camera operator, boom operator). The class then rehearsed and shot a two character scene.

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    Master Class Group Shot with Matthew Modine

    Jon Garza, US Navy veteran who attended the Master Classes was thankful to have the opportunity attend. He stated that, “this event was a great opportunity to network with fellow veterans and learn from industry professionals.”

    Please join our Veterans Facebook group for more information about the 2016 free Master Classes schedule.

    December 23, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 1265

  • NYFA Student Veterans Shadow Animators at Dreamworks

    dreamworksFour New York Film Academy veterans from the Los Angeles campus were chosen to participate in a Veterans Shadowing Day at the Dreamworks Animation Studio campus on December 2 in honor of Veterans Day.

    The program, created by Dreamworks HR VP Tim Norman (he himself an army veteran) — alongside Veterans in Film and Television, and LA faculty member Suzanne Kent — was a unique opportunity for the selected NYFA students to be paired with top animation creators for a day of shadowing, hands on-experience and immersion in their respective fields.

    Participants from Dreamworks included an animation modeler, a CGI Supervisor, and a Motion Capture director.

    Those attending from NYFA were Brian Melo, Chris Cardoza, Kenesha Bolton and Kunanon Soothinpong.

    The program was successful for everyone involved and it is the hope that this project can be continued on an annual basis.

    December 14, 2015 • 3D Animation, Community Highlights, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 584

  • NYFA Soccer Team Wins Championship

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    New York Film Academy Championship Soccer Team

    The New York Film Academy soccer team made history Sunday after winning the championship game,  3-2 against Cobra Kai.  

    This was the first championship game for our (11v11) soccer team and member year as we etch our name across the Los Angeles Municipal Soccer League.

    Soccer coach Gabriel Penaloza’s influence, momentous discipline and his teaching of a “can do” attitude, lead the players to this eventful season. Our players have adapted and carried the spirit of the New York Film Academy to higher level on and off the field.

    The New York Film Academy soccer team is now highly motivated to compete in the higher division next year. “This is a phenomenal achievement for our team, the school and I’m really eager to see what the future holds. I’m sure we will claim victory again and continue to do our best to represent our school,” said Adam El-Manawy, Athletic Coordinator and current player.

    All 22 players on the roster were part of this success. A special thanks to the “veterans” players who believed in this team since its creation in 2012. The team and the program as a whole wouldn’t be at this level today without them.

    December 8, 2015 • Community Highlights, Sports, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 952

  • NYFA Participates in Burbank YMCA Turkey Trot

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    This Thanksgiving, New York Film Academy students lent their talents in support of the Burbank YMCA’s 6th annual Turkey Trot. The 5k/10k event is held each year to raise funds for scholarships that allow area kids and adults to join the Y. As an official sponsor of this year’s event, the New York Film Academy sent a group of eleven students led by the Los Angeles Chair of Photography, Michele Kirk and the Photo Coordinator, Kristine Tomaro, to document those running, walking and pushing strollers in support of physical health and fitness.

    The New York Film Academy is proud to be a strong supporter of our community here in Burbank and even more proud of the student leadership that brought us to become a sponsor of this event.  Two years ago photography student and now graduate Joseph Bornilla, (Jan. ’13 MFA Photography) volunteered to cover the event as a single person with a camera.

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    As a military veteran and no stranger to service, Joseph selflessly volunteered his Thanksgiving morning to support less fortunate members of his community. The following year, Joseph organized a team of photographers to cover all aspects of the event, and when Joseph moved on to Fall ’14 class of MFA Cinematographers, the directors of the Burbank Turkey Trot came looking for the services of NYFA’s highly talented photographers to capture the heart and soul of this event.

    It is a great honor to continue the service begun by Joseph and we hope to be a proud supporter in Burbank for a long time to come.

    December 4, 2015 • Community Highlights, Photography • Views: 736

  • The Shorts Show Performing LIVE at The PIT

    tourist trapFounded by New York Film Academy acting alumnus Corey Scott Rutledge, The Shorts Show team has been doing consistently funny sketch comedy in New York for five years now and have been featured everywhere from The Huffington Post to Funny or Die.

    Last year, the group began doing live scripted comedy at NYC’s The PIT, selling out almost every show. Their most recent show, Tourist Trap, was co-written by NYFA acting graduate Brooks Russell and includes the cast of NYFA grads Jae LaRoya and Dirk Otis, as well as NYFA Instructor Grant Lancaster. In fact, even the technical director is Luis Alercone, a NYFA filmmaking graduate.

    Tourist Trap came about in an effort to make a New York-centric show,” said co-writer Brooks Russell. “We all live in the city and we all share the common love/hate relationship with the city— so we wanted to make a show that delved in to that.”

    The team began throwing around ideas for a few of the sketches and then searched for a backbone to them all together. That’s when they stumbled upon On the Town, an old but fairly popular musical that just recently had a revival run on Broadway. The show is about three sailors who spend one night in NYC and go on ‘wild and crazy’ adventures, then meet up to share their adventure together.

    The Shorts Show 2015 Reel from The Shorts Show on Vimeo.

    “We started thinking what if you took that story but had the sailors just go through all of the obstacles that today’s New Yorker often faces: subway delays, catcalling, hipster-artisanal propaganda, the homeless, pigeons, Naked Cowboys, and so on,” said Russell. “We use the sailors as a vehicle to travel through this very weird, dark, and (hopefully) hilarious version of NYC that explores all of those experiences that really are unique to this city, and the musical element helps it keep an absurd, light-hearted tone in an otherwise bleak setting. Mostly because Dirk has the voice of an angel.”

    Be sure to check out Tourist Trap at the PIT on 123 E. 24th St. on Friday, December 4th at 9:30pm. For tickets and times, please visit

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

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    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: 824

  • 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: 760

  • 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.

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    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: 584

  • 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: 771

  • 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.

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    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!

    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: 1028