In addition to live musical productions at theaters in New York City, the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Program produces movie musicals as part of the second year in the program. Students play roles written for them and sing songs specifically composed for them, all within a professional model that results in a state-of-the-art movie musical, which is submitted to film festivals across the country. Past productions have gone on to win awards, including “Start-Up.Com,” which won a Laurel of Excellence Award at the Tampa Bay Arts & Education Network.
“The New York Film Academy Musical Theatre Department is taking the lead in training young talent not only for the stage but also for careers in the film and television industry,” says NYFA Musical Theatre Chair, Mark Olsen. “A highlight of this experience is when students go to a professional studio and work closely with the engineer and the film’s music director to record their final vocal tracks.”
The recording session, which recently took place at MonaLisa studios in New York City, is very unique to students as they get the chance to have original material tailored and developed personally to them — i.e. characters, music, etc. The students also have the opportunity to work with renown composers on the material and record in an actual recording studio as part of our music theatre program. No other program can provide this level of professional support.
The next movie musical, “Alma Mater,” is being directed by NYFA Musical Theatre faculty member, Nathan Brewer, Music Direction by Anna Ebbesen, screenplay by Emily Kaczmarek, with Music and Lyrics by Zoe Sarnak.
It is a story of two rival roommates in the year 1993 at Beecher College, a fictional and exclusive all-girls school in the Hudson Valley. One roommate is preparing for an important fundraising event by organizing a group called “Beecher College Women of Substance.” The other roommate is organizing a group of her own for the same fundraiser, except this group is centered on the recent rebellious advance of the punk rock “Riot Girrrrrls” movement. Both groups awaken to and express their feminist points of view in ways that polarize them into separate and competing camps.
As they rehearse and prepare for the big event, they overlook members of the computer club who are discovering this new thing called the Internet.
They create songs, they write manifestos, they stake out separate “headquarters” and emerge to define themselves fiercely, but in completely opposite forms. Finally, after a serious arm wrestling match, members of their respective groups experience a moment of revelation where their combined efforts produce amazing results. The two musical styles and points of view come together in a triumphant song of solidarity. Both groups come to realize that they are actually two sides of the same Susan B. Anthony coin.
“Alma Mater” will join a proud tradition of NYFA movie musicals. Over the past few years, NYFA’s movie musicals have touched on a range of topics — from “The Ghosts of Ethan Dean,” a cautionary drama about addiction, to “Landed,” which follows a group of expats trying to make it in New York. Each film showcases a modern musical paradigm with an edgier subject matter with the hopes of encouraging aspiring performers and theater producers to confront issues that truly speak to millennials. “Landed” will screen at the Cinema New York Film Festival in September 2017.
“I am so blessed to be a part of this wonderful program learning from working industry professionals,” said NYFA Musical Theatre student, Brielle Carmichael. “There is nothing better than being surrounded by people who share the same passion for their art form as you do.”