New York Film Academy is excited to share that Filmmaking instructor Daniel Abrusci has won a Gold Promax Award for outstanding achievement in sound design and mixing on the Cbeebies segment Christmas Lights for BBC Latin America.
The Promax Awards are the world’s premier celebration of outstanding achievement in entertainment marketing and design, honoring teams of creatives harnessing passionate fandom to drive audiences, create value, and build the biggest brands in entertainment.
The one-minute animation Abrusci worked on in his home studio was extremely heavy in sound design. “When working with animation, sound design plays a huge role because there’s no audio to start with,” he explained. “I edited three different pieces of music into a one-minute spot in order for the music to be dynamic and help boost holiday emotions.”
The South Beach instructor had to recreate the ambiance needed for the TV spot to feel a bit more realistic, adding in stylistic sound elements to elevate the story visually. “There’s plenty of creativity involved due to the fact that a lot of these actions might sound different in real life,” shared Abrusci. “Once we have all the different sound design, voiceover, and music elements, mixing is all about making things stand out and giving everything character and space in the frequency spectrum.” Essentially, sound mixing in itself plays an important role in fully forming a character, space, or idea.
NYFA instructor Daniel Abrusci
Abrusci urges anyone who is looking to hone their craft to “keep practicing” as it’s practice, trial, and error that allow you to master your skills. “The more time you put into something, the better you’ll become at it. Stay passionate and make it happen!”
New York Film Academy congratulates Daniel Abrusci on his outstanding achievement and looks forward to what’s next from the talented South Beach faculty member.
To view the Christmas Lights spot, view the video below.
Originally reported in Deadline, NYFA’s own Patrice DeGraff Arenas has landed a recurring role on David Makes Man. The Peabody Award-winning drama series is distributed by the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and is currently ramping up for its second season.
Arenas teaches Voice and Speech Acting, Scene Study, Characterization, and Advanced Acting Technique at NYFA’s South Beach campus. In the upcoming season of David Makes Man, Arenas will play Denise, an office assistant at the Edwards Firm (where the main character David works). As originally reported by Deadline, Arenas’ character Denise is someone who “keeps things moving at the office while also learning the moods and tempo of her boss.”
Photo courtesy of Patrice DeGraff Arenas
David Makes Man is from Oscar-winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) and Warner Bros. and is loosely based on McCraney’s experiences, with the titular David (Akili McDowell), a 14-year-old prodigy from the South Florida projects. Arenas revealed that she began production on the project in October 2020.
Arenas, who grew up the daughter of an arts educator, had an upbringing full of theatre, with her mom being a director in school productions. “From those early experiences, I went to college and relished watching my peers present. I gained insight about intention and action, my peers as well professors commented on my clear, direct, practical critiques,” shared Arenas.
While Arenas has recently been involved in NYFA alum Bruklyn Miller’s award-winning film Celestial and is focused on her upcoming role in David Makes Man, Arenas revealed she is also in the development of a series with four of her former high school arts friends. In the future, Arenas hopes to be cast in a comedy and to play the role of Rose in Fences or Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.
Photo Credit: OWN
As for advice for students and alumni, Arenas says “life isn’t a rehearsal, so show up ready! It’s okay to be afraid but do it anyway!” The NYFA instructor also urges actors and creatives alike to “be patient with yourself” as some goals rarely look like what you want them to “but that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t worthwhile!”
New York Film Academy congratulates the NYFA South Beach instructor Patrice DeGraff Arenas on her upcoming role, and encourages everyone to check out the second season of David Makes Man when it is available on OWN, and to catch up on season one, with all episodes now available on HBO Max.
From working with globally recognized brands like Champion and U.S. Polo Assn. to working on Miami-based short films Hi8, My Dear Delilah, Watch Me, and Piece, NYFA alum Michael Bradway is booked and busy, focusing on both an acting and modeling career that he explains compliments both disciplines.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)
Bradway grew up in Boca Raton, Fl with his mom and two sisters. Bradway remembers first being intrigued by modeling and entertainment when his twin sister Natalie was approached at their local mall one day by a talent manager. “Slowly, one opportunity led to another,” he shared. “However, I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until my senior year of high school when I was in the school production of Fiddler on the Roof, it was was an incredible, new experience.” That experience led Bradway to apply for NYFA’s South Beach campus to pursue a BFA in Acting for Film not long after.
Campaign for Polo (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)
“NYFA South Beach felt like the best choice being a hands-on acting for film program, where I could also study theatre,” Bradway said. “Being at NYFA South Beach for the past three years has taught me so much about acting and filmmaking. For example, hitting your mark, being in the moment, and learning about numerous actors and playwrights. We took editing and film craft classes to get a better understanding and gain more respect for the filmmaking side of a project too. One thing I learned at NYFA, that will stick with me forever, is to always be the most prepared person in the room and there is no excuse not to be.”
Pursuing acting and modeling has been a helpful experience for Bradway, who recommends that actors look into modeling opportunities to improve their craft. “It’s a great way to explore a different style of art and meet people in various industries,” he explained. “Agencies hold open calls online with instructions, so depending on where you’re located I suggest looking up the agencies in your area.”
Bradway is currently signed with SELECT Model Management and has booked multiple campaigns for famous brands like Champion, U.S. Polo Assn., Verizon, and Brightline Train. “Brightline Train was definitely one of my favorites because of all the running we had to do through the train, in a park, and they even created their own mock highway for us to run through too,” revealed Bradway.
Champion campaign (Photo courtesy of Michael Bradway)
When asked about whether he prefers acting or modeling, the NYFA alum explained that both creative pursuits have given him so much joy. “I’ve been so fortunate to have worked with incredible people and companies worldwide,” he shared. “I don’t necessarily have a favorite between the two. Acting has actually helps me with modeling and vice versa. Modeling can be very interactive, even without having to say any lines. You’re capturing a moment with each photo taken and most of the time the company/photographer wants those moments to look natural. Acting has definitely helped me with that skill.”
In addition to modeling helping his acting skills and acting helping his modeling, Bradway also shared that NYFA South Beach campus’ close-knit community helped him grow in his craft and build a community of faculty and students alike. “it’s a building full of amazingly talented and genuinely wholehearted people who are currently working in the industry,” he gushed. “They are funny, hardworking and all have the same goal in mind; to tell their stories. There are so many stories to tell which is why more people should be exploring acting and filmmaking. Many hands are involved in a single film with a vast amount of different jobs, so there is something for everyone.”
New York Film Academy would like to thank New York Film Academy South Beach alum Michael Bradway for taking the time to share more about what he has learned from modeling and acting and how both careers have helped him grow in the industry.
We’re collaborative artists. Our creative process involves working face to face and hand to hand, finding common objectives and making it all happen. As an instructor at NYFA South Beach during this pandemic, I miss the personal connection with my students and I know my students miss the social and professional interactions with their fellow students. We all miss being there.
Peter Baloff (Left) holds virtual Q&A with Michael Pressman (Right)
I keep looking for silver linings in this time of pandemic. I’m upgrading my landscaping, enjoying my wife’s new-found love of baking, reading more and catching up on some pretty good movies and TV shows. But it’s been hard finding silver linings teaching my students on Zoom. But this week, at long last, a silver lining appeared on Zoom, which I’d like to share with you here.
For the past few years I’ve wanted to invite guest artists to our South Beach campus – accomplished actors, directors, producers, casting directors, cinematographers, so many other journeymen filmmakers with whom I’ve worked over the course of thirty years writing, producing and directing in Los Angeles.
As it turns out, Zoom opened the door for my first guest artist invitation. For those who attended, there’s no doubt a good time was had by all – by not only our South Beach students, but all students across NYFA’s campuses.
Michael Pressman (Right) on set with Richard Pryor for ‘Some Kind of Hero’
Michael Pressman directed his first feature film when he was only 26 and went on to direct quite a few big studio hits, including Dr. Detroit and Some Kind of Hero, starring Richard Pryor. He ventured into television, directing TV movies and dozens of episodes of quality TV shows, such as Law and Order, Grey’s Anatomy, The Guardian and Sneaky Pete. As an Executive Producer, Michael became an experienced “Show Runner,” winning two Emmys for the acclaimed series, Picket Fences. His IMDB speaks for itself.
A natural story-teller, Michael regaled us with tales of working with famous actors, dealing with the studio system, casting, getting the most out of collaborating artists and coping with the ever-changing filmmaking technology. He advised our students on breaking into the business and offered strategies for success.
I’m convinced the intimate Zoom platform, allowing Michael and I to talk to each other like old friends, was an ideal and more comfortable format for Michael – far better, I believe than a staged event before a live audience. I’m told by those who watched it, the Zoom meeting with Michael Pressman resembled a late night talk show, as entertaining as it was informative.
Let’s all keep looking for those silver linings, knowing we’ll get together in person very soon.
For more information on our NYFA South Beach programs, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website here.
With many festivals being cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Film Academy South Beach instructor Eduardo “Eddy” Santa-Maria decided to engage South Beach students to create their own films from home and have a place to have them shares and voted on for NYFA’s first-ever Made at Home Festival, presented by NYFA South Beach. The Festival’s winners included MFA Acting for Film student Yulia Korotkova (Student Choice Award), and One Year Filmmaking Conservatory student McKenzie Mortensen (Staff & Faculty Choice Award).
“I constantly see students stop each other in the halls and ask ‘hey how’s that film going,’ and I’ve seen those same students leave that conversation inspired and ready to make a film of their own. That infectious creativity seemed to have died down as we move to remote learning,” shared Santa-Maria. “So, in order to get that vibe back, the itch to create, I figured the Festival would give them a challenge where their creativity would be put to the test and, hopefully, inject that sense of creativity that NYFA is famous for.”
Students who participated in the Film Festival were given one month to develop, write, shoot, and edit a 5-minute film completely shot from their own home. With the Coronavirus pandemic shutting down many areas all over the country, students were encouraged to use what they had at home, from camera equipment (mobile phones, DSLR) to casting their film with only themselves or who they lived with.
McKenzie Mortensen, who won the Staff & Faculty Choice Award for her short film Quarantined, was inspired to make her film due to her own personal experiences of being alone during the pandemic. The Burley, Idaho native’s short film is a horror-comedy about a girl who becomes so bored and lonely that she makes friends with an evil villain, who crawls out of her television. In addition to the full film below, Mortensen has also shared her Quarantined storyboard available here.
“I hope the audience was able to relate to my short emotionally since my film subject was very current,” says Mortensen. “I also hope they were able to let out a laugh, chuckle or giggle.” Mortensen will graduate from the One Year Filmmaking Conservatory from NYFA’s South Beach campus in September and plans to pursue a career in film editing. In addition to her short film Quarantined and Doritos Super Bowl competition entry, Mortensen also created a short stop motion film, which can be viewed here.
Winner of the Student Choice Award, Yulia Korotkova, was inspired to create her short film Watersafter playing around with different shots and angles taken on her cellphone. After attempting to create a shot of someone being pulled out from under the bed, she was inspired to create a thriller about soul-collecting water that could be condensed for the Festival’s parameters. “The original script was a ten minute film and we [Korotkova and her husband] feel proud of having created this film only using an iPhone without any professional equipment,” she explains.
Behind the scenes for ‘Waters’ (Directed by Yulia Korotkova)
Korotkova, who was born in Russia and grew up in Venezuela, moved to Miami 11 years ago and is currently studying acting at NYFA South Beach. Waters, she explains, is her first-ever film. “I was hoping to entertain and, at the same time, show how there is no need for expensive equipment and large expensive production in order to tell a story.”
NYFA South Beach student Yulia Korotkova
While the film is not yet posted publicly, Korotkova has released a teaser trailer and encourages readers to check out some of the behind the scenes information for her film.
Santa-Maria shares he hopes students can realize they don’t need huge sets, expensive cameras, or a large crew to tell a heartfelt story. “As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted our students to realize that no matter where they are in life, no one can take away their ability to tell captivating stories.”
New York Film Academy would like to congratulate NYFA South Beach students McKenzie Mortensen and Yulia Korotkova for winning the top prizes for the South Beach Made at Home Festival and encourages everyone to watch each student’s available footage to get their own creative inspiration.
Last October, One Night in Miami premiered as a Miami New Drama production at Miami Beach’s Colony Theatre, starring New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting Alum Kieron Anthony as legendary fighter Cassius Clay.
The play was written by Kemp Powers and staged by Miami native Carl Cofield, associate artistic director of the Classical Theatre of Harlem. It imagines the events of February 25, 1964, after Clay had defeated Sonny Liston and won the World Heavyweight Crown. After the fight, Clay was joined at the Hampton House Motel Room by three other famous men of color — Sam Cooke, Jim Brown, and Malcolm X.
Leon Thomas III, Esau Pritchett and Jason Delane listen as Kieron Anthony’s Cassius Clay (standing on bed) recounts his victory over Sonny Liston in “One Night in Miami.” Photo by STIAN ROENNING
While only the surviving member of the foursome, Jim Brown, knows what the men really discussed that night, One Night in Miami postulates what could have been happened when four such prominent personalities are confined in a small room after such an incredible evening. The play, which takes place during Segregation, also incorporates important themes of race and religion in the 1960s.
Kieron Anthony plays the pivotal role of Cassius Clay, who the day after the night depicted in the play would announce his conversion to the Nation of Islam. He would change his name and be known by for the rest of his life as Muhammad Ali. Of his performance, Christine Dolen wrote in the Miami Herald that Anthony “conveys the young champ’s joyous confidence as he reenacts moments of his life-changing fight for his famous friends. He dials up the rhetoric and swagger when he goes outside to speak with the reporters who finally track him down, but with his friends he’s willing to show he’s still grappling with embracing and declaring his faith.”
Anthony graduated from New York Film Academy South Beach’s 1-year acting conservatory in 2015. As part of an extremely diverse student body with classmates from around the world, Anthony received an educational experience unique from other acting schools in Florida, focusing on hands-on experience from faculty members currently working in the Miami acting scene.
Yves Arispe, NYFA South Beach’s Director of Housing and Student Services, called Anthony’s performance “natural, believable, relatable as he delivered on every beat,” and that, “Kieron’s performance makes NYFA South Beach proud!”
The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting alum Kieron Anthony on his stellar performance as Cassius Clay in One Night in Miami!
Earlier this November, students from New York Film Academy’s South Beach campus attended the opening night of the 8th Annual Recent Cinema From Spain film series in Miami, Florida.
Recent Cinema From Spain is produced by EGEDA US and The Olympia Theater in collaboration with the ICAA and the Centro Cultural Español in Miami (CCEMiami), and has run for the past seven years. The aim of the festival is to celebrate Spanish culture, including everything from art to music to food, and of course, film.
This year’s Recent Cinema From Spain showcased six films, including Carmen Y Lola, Petra, Everybody Knows, andthe US premiere of The Realm, a political thriller by the producers of Secret in Their Eyes.
The opening night was Thursday, November 8 and included a red carpet event at the Olympia Theater, a landmark institution built in 1926 that has been a frequent hub of activity for the South Florida arts community. It was attended by, among others, several Spanish film celebrities as well as EFE Agency and Hola TV.
Dir. Santiago Segura (Sin Rodeos)
Roughly a dozen students from New York Film Academy (NYFA) attended. This included students from NYFA South Beach’s BFA Acting for Film program, BFA Filmmaking program, and MFA Filmmaking program. NYFA’s degree programs are offered to and designed for students who wish to integrate intensive professional training with a comprehensive liberal arts education, helping them to become fully prepared for their chosen career path in the performing and visual and entertainment arts. In addition to the students who attended, a crew of three were able to conduct interviews on the red carpet. This included Steven Fares as the interviewer, Florencia Portieri as camera operator, and Ramon Burki as still photographer.
The NYFA South Beach students who attended Recent Cinema From Spain had a wonderful time, and were greatly appreciative of the exposure to the Spanish culture offered by the festival.
Maylen Dominguez, Campus Director and Chair of Filmmaking of NYFA South Beach, reinforced this point, saying, “The Recent Cinema From Spain Festival held in Miami was a fun and inspiring opportunity for our students to get to meet actors, see a different style of filmmaking, and watch their fellow peers on the red carpet doing press in a professional manner.”
No doubt the NYFA students who attended were inspired to get back to their studies and work on their own films that may very well be screened at the next Recent Cinema From Spain fest!
New York Film Academy South Beach screened the 2016 drama Hidden Figures this March as part of a month-long event series for Women’s History Month.
Hidden Figures was based on the book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly about three black female mathematicians who worked at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as mathematicians Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, respectively. The release of the film came on the heels of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2016, and its critical and commercial success proved that the stories of women of color have been waiting to be told for decades.
NYFA South Beach Chair of Filmmaking Maylen Dominguez said of the decision to screen this particular film: “These untold stories need to be told. They are part of our history that will disappear if we don’t share them now.” The Filmmaking Chair also served as moderator of the Q&A, which took place after the screening. The Q&A featured panelists who are working women in film, including:
“As a woman, there is no need to be demure or diminutive about your skills,” said Maha McCain, who is an acting instructor at University of Miami. She explained that women are often expected to be more passive, but that they shouldn’t be ashamed to proudly showcase their talent.
Maylen Dominguez thoughtfully illustrated why it benefits women and men to be more inclusive in casting and hiring: “You’re helping showcase a full picture of humanity. That’s why we’re in film!”
Filmmaker Rhonda Mitrani added, “Don’t take things personally.”
Toward the end of the discussion, one of the students raised her hand to say, “Thank you so much for having this kind of discussion. I am about to graduate and I feel hopeful.”
A male student added, “We want you to know we heard you and our generation is working hard to change how things are.”
The common themes throughout were to “never give up, support each other, and do not let your voice be stifled. The industry panelists also repeated the idea that it is always important to allow a variety of different voices to be heard, as evidenced by Hidden Figures.
For a complete look at all of NYFA’s events during Women’s History Month, check out our blog piece here.
Miami: home of bikinis, sunshine, and Art Basel. Sure, Art Basel happens in other cities around the world, but nothing beats the annual event that takes over the city of Miami each winter, drawing artists and visitors from around the world to explore new themes and cutting-edge creations in contemporary art. Up-and-coming artists, celebrities, and everyone in between make their way to Miami in order to take part in the numerous events, private showings and parties, the VIP after parties and more every December.
This year New York Film Academy (NYFA) South Beach was proud to collaborate with two of the biggest Art Basel events, Spectrum and PULSE.
During the Spectrum event, NYFA South Beach had the privilege to showcase some alumni and faculty work. We also hosted an incredible panel with featured artists Naomi White, Angelika Rinnhofer, and Jon Henry, which was lead by New York Film Academy Chair of Photography David Mager. The panel and photography showcase created a buzz throughout the Spectrum/Red Dot event for the rest of the week.
NYFA South Beach also partnered with Pulse, creating visual work for their Perspectives project, featuring private interviews with this year’s presenting artists Mindy Solomon (owner of the Mindy Solomon Gallery), Carolina García Jayaram (CEO of the National YoungArts Foundation) and Donna Ruff.
NYFA South Beach’s Perspectives video spotlights were a part of an installment at the entrance of the Pulse VIP area. Viewers were able to enjoy the video one at a time, creating an exclusive experience while still channeling the fun and artwork that surrounded the venue.
Celebrity sightings were another exciting feature of Art Basel this year, with Jonathan Cheban, Scott Disick, Alec Monopoly, and Owen Wilson winding their way through the exhibits. New York Film Academy’s very own Sally Nieves was also interviewed by a local television show called Vibes and Views Miami!
Between Spectrum, Pulse, Art Basel and New York Film Academy, social media was buzzing all week long. If you missed out, make sure to stay tuned for next year’s Art Basel events, which we hope will be even bigger and better!
NYFA South Beach is proud to participate in PULSE and Spectrum, and looks forward to next year’s Art Basel festivities.
In the midst of Art Basel and Miami’s busiest art season of the year, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) South Beach will contribute to the thriving international celebration of art and culture through Art Talks at SPECTRUM, a partnership with PULSE — and a thought-provoking production of Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” at the Miami Theatre Center’s Sandbox Series.
With artists visiting Miami from around the world to examine the meaning and state of contemporary art, revisiting this classic existential play could not come at a more perfect time.
“Rhinoceros” explores the apathetic Berenger’s metamorphosis from a disconnected, depressed and isolated individual to a hero motivated by unconditional love and responsibility for his fellow man, in the midst of an epidemic where weak-willed people are inexplicably turning into rhinos.
Ionesco wrote the play as a response to WWII, examining not only the psychology behind Fascism and Nazism but also the human need to imbue life with meaning by following a cause.
The surrealist piece is to be mounted by the New York Film Academy South Beach’s Fall 2015 class of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Film program as an end-of-semester production that includes each and every student from the cohort. The cohort includes:
Nothando Palesa Xulu
Directed by veteran NYFA instructor Paul Tei, known for his work in a dozen TV shows including Netflix’s “Bloodline,” “American Horror Story,” and “Burn Notice,” this adaptation of “Rhinoceros” exposes how relevant Ionesco’s questions on man’s search for meaning and the nature of interpersonal responsibility and connection are still extremely vital to contemporary art, and beyond.
Paul Tei received his MFA in directing from the prestigious Theatre School at De Paul University, and his BA in theatre from Barry University. He is the artistic director and founder of The Mad Cat Theatre Company, where he has directed numerous productions and world premiers. Paul’s directorial work outside the company has been seen in New York, where his production of “BUMP” had a sold-out run at The Henry Street Settlement, as well as in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Vermont, and across the pond in Manchester and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for Mad Cat Theatre Company’s premier production of “Going Green the Wrong Way.”
The New York Film Academy South Beach, like all NYFA locations, focuses its programs on the philosophy of learning by doing. Acting for Film students learn to act for film by actually performing in films, while also training in the essential acting techniques and skills rooted in theatre. The end-of-semester performance of “Rhinoceros” is a part of their Play Production Workshop, a course focused on developing the skills and techniques of live performance as a foundation for their craft.