On Monday the 8th of June, four students from the New York Film Academy’s Gold Coast location, three students from NYFA Sydney, and acting instructor Hunter McMahon departed Australia and headed to the New York Film Academy campus in Los Angeles, California. The acting students participated in an intensive three week program which encompassed classes such as; Meisner technique, Voice and Movement, Combat, Comedy, Psychology of Performance, Audition technique and Production Workshops, which were shot on the backlot of Universal Studios.
The students’ first week of training began on Tuesday the 9th of June with three classes a day, plus plenty of work to keep them busy outside of school hours. The first shoot on the Universal backlot took place on the “Western Set,” with scenes authored by the students. “It was a unique experience, and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said NYFA Sydney Acting Instructor, Hunter McMahon.
On Saturday afternoon, the acting students attended the Los Angeles Film Festival for a screening of Be Here Now: The Andy Whitfield Story. “It was one of the most powerful documentaries I have ever seen. When the lights came up we were all visibly moved and glad that we had shared the experience together,” said McMahon.
On Sunday the group took some time out with a large portion of the day spent lounging at the pool of the Oakwood Apartments and enjoying the famous Los Angeles sun—after all, it is currently wintertime back in Australia.
During the second week, the intensity of the program increased as the teachers began to demand more of the students, and as we’re accustomed to at NYFA, the students picked up the challenge.
Friday night saw the students shuttled from NYFA to attend The Groundlings Theatre Show. “The show was hilarious, the students had a ball, and some were even lucky enough to meet the performers afterwards and have their picture taken with them,” recalled McMahon.
Over the course of the rest of the weekend, the students spent time shopping, and exploring Disneyland. Any spare time leftover, students worked on the course material for the final week.
The last week was spent filming the scenes, monologues and learning as much as possible about the industry in Los Angeles. During the week, students were shuttled to The Matrix theatre to watch The Australian Theatre Company’s rehearsed play reading of Ruben Guthrie. “The show was fantastic and a great networking opportunity… the play has been recently been adapted into a feature film, which opened the Sydney Film Festival this year,” said McMahon.
On the Friday night of their final week, the students’ work was showcased in the screening room of NYFA LA’s Riverside Building. “It was a fitting end to the three-week course and we were overawed by the experience,” said McMahon.
Monday the 29th of June marked the conclusion of the three-week excursion.
“From this experience, my Australian acting students have grown remarkably, and will certainly cherish these memories dearly. The teachers we’ve had have been fantastic, experienced and very knowledgeable. We have made industry connections that will benefit both parties in the years to come. I’m grateful that I have been able to share this experience with the students, and the NYFA staff in LA. I have learned so much in my time here, and I can’t wait to share it all upon my return to Sydney. This journey has been invaluable, and I would like to share my gratitude and warm thanks to the New York Film Academy, its teachers and the students who journeyed with me to Los Angeles,” concluded McMahon.
As for the students who took part in this incredible three-week Los Angeles trip, this is what they had to say:
“I have been deeply touched by the passion, dedication and immense desire every teacher has had to share their experience and, install in our hearts, deep respect for our craft and the industry. I am now more committed to the ingenuity, creativity, skill and professionalism that has gone before me.”
Sharde Anne (Gold Coast Graduate)
“This has been an incredible experience. I’m so grateful I was given this opportunity to explore the LA industry that I one day intend to be a part of. We were taken to The Groundlings, which was phenomenal and hilarious. We were also taken to see the Australian Theatre Company’s reading of ‘Ruben Guthrie’ at the Matrix theatre. We filmed on the Universal backlot twice. I have learned and grown so much in the past three weeks. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of it!”
Tiahni Wilton (Gold Coast Graduate)
“The wisdom and experience of the industry that was shared with us from the lecturers at NYFA was invaluable; and now I’m going home to Australia more confident with my craft. Thank you to all the lecturers from NYFA across Australia and LA. You all inspire me daily.”
Krystal Shuttleworth (Gold Coast Graduate)
“I look forward to the future in acting. I feel my passion gets stronger as I keep learning. It’s been an amazing experience!”
Tareesha Argus (Gold Coast Graduate)
“Coming to Los Angeles has been a fantastic and an uplifting experience for me. I’m eternally grateful for all that I have learned at my time at NYFA.”
Abel Kollie (Sydney Graduate)
“We have had incredible classes and teachers, who are all so passionate about the craft. I’ve learned so much about acting and the exciting business over here. The classes have been intense, and definitely worthwhile. Experiencing the American audition process and running it with a real agent was an invaluable experience. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone.”
Kiara Williams (Sydney Graduate)
“The experience and knowledge I’ve gained from doing this program is without a doubt the best decision and opportunity that was given to me by NYFA. I’ve learned so much more than I could have imagined about the LA market, auditioning and character work in the past 3 weeks. Though the days were long, I wouldn’t change any of it. The teachers were fantastic; they were so knowledgeable and passionate about the industry. I am eternally grateful to NYFA Sydney for this experience and can’t wait to start my career.”
Ismael Nunez Moreno (Sydney Graduate)