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  • Spring 2018 Highlights from NYFA Los Angeles’ Acting for Film Department

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    It’s been a busy semester at for the Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. In addition to our fabulous curriculum, we also hosted industry guest speakers, produced student-directed plays, saw our improv troupe return to the 80’s in a memorable performance, and an empowering performance from our dance troupe.

    Spring ’18 Student-Directed Plays

    This Spring’s series of student-directed plays commenced with The Shape Of Things, directed by Kylee Snyder. Neil LaBute’s play examines the protagonist’s relationship to her art, which she uses as a form of manipulation and punishment,  crossing the line and justifying self-serving behavior.     

    Five Women Wearing The Same Dress was directed by Nurgul Salimova. Alan Ball’s hilarious play about five very different bridesmaids all hiding out to escape the bride that none of them even like. Over the course of the play, they laugh, cry, fight, reveal secrets, and ultimately find a common connection in sisterhood. The creative set design was a true delight.

    Madison Miller and Jonas Grosserhode in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

    The Greater Good Rebecca, directed by Kia Queener. This dystopian play by  Rebecca Gorman O’Neil explores the consequences when citizens don’t take action, blindly follow orders, and allow a government to silence dissenters.

    Stefan Leach, Bella Ferraro, and Evan Annisette in The Greater Good

    Women and Wallace is a one-act play by Jonathan Sherman and directed by Luke Sweeney. The play explores how a young man learns to navigate relationships with women after the suicide of his mother. By the play’s end, Wallace learns to forgive his mother and gains the ability to love again.

    Cock was directed by second-time student director Jeremiah Lucas. The play is a sharp witty study of the sexual identity and the paralyzing indecision that stems from stigmatization of same-sex orientation. The engaging and well-staged play was written by Mark Barlett.

    Jeremiah Lucas director of Cock

    Picasso at The Lapin Agile by Steve Martin and directed by Alon Fischer. What would happen if Einstein and Picasso met in a local watering hole (and hell throw in Elvis), and you have an uproariously funny play that asks the question what is genius and creativity? And, who do they belong to?

    Jacob Douglas Wolfe in Picasso at The Lapin Agile

    A Cell Phone Symphony id an original play written and directed by our BFA student Michael Anthony Johnson. It’s a contemporary comedy that included rap, pop music, Thriller-esque dance numbers, and a cell phone game. It takes place in NY and asks the question: what happens to our relationships when we have a more intimate connection to our phones than we do to the people in our lives. 

    Improv Troupe & Glee Club

    The first Improv Troupe Showcase was held on Thursday, April 5 at the Groundlings Gary Austin Stage after a four-month rehearsal process.  The company  – selected by audition from alumni and current students – performed for a sold-out crowd of industry professionals – including networks and top-tier talent agencies, managers and casting directors. The show was directed by LA Faculty Suzanne Kent and George McGrath, both Groundling alumni. The troupe wishes to thank Lynda Goodfriend and Anne Moore for their hard work and support.

    This spring, the Glee Club at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held a 1980s music concert — and it was a huge success!  

    The Glee Clubbers put up seminal hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Smiths, Guns and Roses, and DEVO. Glee Club faculty supervisor Melissa Sullivan said, “It has been an amazing experience to musically direct this multi-talented group the last two years. Throughout the semester, I have seen students flourish and grow through music.”

    To create a true pop sound for the music of this semester’s concert, the Glee Club utilized microphones — for some students, it was their first experience using mics. Sullivan had mics set up in rehearsals so students could learn mic singing technique. The event was also choreographed and staged with the help of students Sunny Amara and Jasmine Mensah.  According to Amara, “My experience in Glee Club has been everything I imagined; a group of talented people who just want to have fun, work hard and make beautiful music. I’ve become great friends with these people very quickly and we’ve become a little glee family!”

    Sullivan had this to say about NYFA Clubs in general: “What I find amazing about the clubs that NYFA has to offer is that the students involved are usually in more than one club. Some of the Glee Club students are also in the Dance Troupe. I believe these clubs are beneficial to student’s growth. They are collaborating with students outside of their class and have an additional creative outlet. “

    NYFA’s Glee Club is usually comprised of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, and guided by strong student leadership and collaboration. This semester, the club had BFA student Rachel Gordine as assistant musical director, and the sections’ leaders were BFA student Rachel Gordine (sopranos), BFA student Paige Conroy (altos), AFA student Ethan Williams and BFA student Zackary Nel (tenors), and BFA student Zane Hudson (bass).

    Next semester the New York Film Academy Glee Club will be putting up the music of Broadway, and possibly collaborating with the NYFA Dance Troupe. It’s a very exciting time here in Los Angeles, and the Glee Club hopes you can join them at next semester’s show.

    International Women’s Day

    On Thursday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, a panel of entertainment industry women assembled to discuss their experience working in the industry and provide advice to our students in what was a highly informative evening.

    Event Details:

    “A Woman’s Place is In the Industry”-  Perspectives on Women in the Entertainment Industry: a Panel Discussion on the landscape for women today in different areas of the entertainment community, and in the interest of our students, who are the future of entertainment, answer the question – “How do we create a different, more empowering culture for women in the industry?”

    Panelists

    Dea Lawrence

    – Chief Marketing Officer for Variety. As CMO, Dea is responsible for driving Variety’s global branding and communications strategy, including overseeing the marketing and production of their 70 annual events and summits along with the Variety Content Studio which creates storytelling for brands.

    Kelly Gilmore

    – former Senior Vice President of Global Toys for 28 years at Warner Bros. Consumer Products responsible for licensing intellectual properties such as DC Comics, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes to major global toy companies including Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, Jakks Pacific and Funko. When Kelly left in 2016, her team had the biggest financial year in the history of her career, winning nine toy awards. Since retiring in 2016, Kelly enjoys floral arranging, gardening, cooking, spending time with her dogs and mentoring a 14-year-old girl.

    Barbara Bain

    – a 3 Time Emmy Award Winning Actress, Barbara is perhaps best known for her role as Cinnamon Carter in “Mission Impossible” for which she won 3 consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Barbara is also well known for her philanthropy work. Among her many charitable activities, Barbara is the founder of the Screen Actors Guild’s “BookPals” Program that has colleagues reading to children in schools all around Los Angeles.

    Jeanette Collins

    – Producer/Writer. Jeanette and writing partner Mimi Friedman started their careers writing on “In Living Color” where they were nominated for an Emmy. Many half-hour comedies followed including “A Different World”, “Suddenly Susan” and “Will and Grace”. After 2 seasons writing for the HBO series “Big Love”, they joined the staff of “Dirt”. They are currently developing a mini-series for HBO about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Winship Cook

    – Independent Producer. Winship worked in network television at Paramount Pictures on shows such as “Down Home” and “Fired Up”. She Co-Executive Produced “The Family Plan” a movie for the Hallmark Channel. Winship worked as a Producer and Vice President of Development for The Edward S. Feldman Company, where her credits include “102 Dalmatians” starring Glenn Close and “K-19: The Widowmaker” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. As a theater producer, Winship developed and produced the one-man show “RFK” that in its Off-Broadway incarnation was an award-winning show directed by Larry Moss.

    Valorie Massalas

    – Casting Director/Producer. Valorie’s prolific, extensive casting career includes such features as “Back to the Future 2 & 3” directed by Robert Zemeckis, “Indiana Jones” and “Total Recall” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.

    Ronnie Yeskel

    – Casting Director. Ronnie’s career casting countless films and television shows includes such iconic features as “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” for Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for Larry David on HBO.

    Elvi Cano

    – Executive Director at EGEDA US & Premios Platino. Elvi and her teams In Los Angeles and Miami provide assistance to Spanish and Latin American filmmakers serving as a liaison facilitating relations between the US film industry and those of Spain and Latin America. She has been actively involved in the production of the 4 editions of The PLATINO AWARDS OF IBEROAMERICAN CINEMA in Panama, Spain & Uruguay and is the talent producer/head of talent for the Awards.

    Lisa Guerriero

    – Lisa Guerriero began working as a Camera Assistant in Los Angeles in 1989. She has worked on feature films and television shows such as “Fight Club”, “Lost Highway”, and “Mad Men”. Lisa has been on the Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 since 2001 and was the Co-Chair of their Diversity Committee for four years.

    Jana Winternitz 

    – an award-winning producer and actress having produced over 70 projects including “The Thinning Franchise”, “Internet Famous” and “Funny Story”. She has worked with Legendary, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Focus Features along with a slew of wonderful talent including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Angela Bassett. Jana enjoys generating strong and complex female roles for the screen.

    STAND-UP FOR WOMEN!

    On March 7th, at the NYFA Theater, we hosted a benefit for women helping women (WHW). “Stand-Up for Women” was hosted by Lisa deLarios, featuring performances by stand-up comics: Laura House, Kate Willet, Vanessa Gonzalez, Jena Friedman, Jessica Sele, Annie Lederman, and Ellington Wells, and NYFA faculty member Jackie Kashian. The fabulous collection of talent was assembled by Peri Litvak.     

    Dance Troupe

    The theme of our upcoming show and Troupe is Diversity and Empowerment through Community and Purpose – To dance, create, express, entertain and have fun.

     As Dance Troupe is an extracurricular class students audition and once accepted, commit themselves to creating together and putting up a show of original works at the end of the semester. These students love to dance, choreograph and perform. The dance styles are diverse from Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Contemporary, Salsa, Belly Dance to Bollywood! They are all very dedicated and happy to be part of a dance community at NYFA where they can meet other students, have fun and dance off their stress as well. This will be the biggest show we have put on so far and we are really excited about it! This semester we have 27 dancers and we will be showcasing 18 original pieces!

    Students have to audition at the beginning of the semester to get in to Dance Troupe. We audition dancers and choreographers. It meets every Friday night in Bogart from 7:15pm to 10pm. Who is evolved – NYFA students which include the Acting Department, Film Department and Alumni. 

    The rehearsal process is pretty straight forward  – Choreographers show there pieces, then teach a part of their choreography to the dancers who are interested. Then the choreographers select the dancers they want in their piece –  for the most part the choreographers try to accommodate as many dancers as possible. Choreographers set up outside rehearsals with their dancers and present their progress on Friday night when we meet. If there is time left over we break the time up and let different choreographers work on their pieces. These rehearsals are highly productive to say the least!

    Here’s what the students had to say about it:

    “Being apart of dance Troupe Has allowed me to explore a side of myself that’s filled with passion, leadership and overall growth and love for everyone involved. The progress of the troupe is incredible!:” – Jacqueline Hahn

    “I get an outlet for myself to express my creativity without the pressure of grades and succeeding in my major” – Lotta Lemetti

    “Dance Troupe has made me a happier, joyful and motivated artist to express my feelings through creative movement” – Derek Ramsay

    “It’s a different medium of art I get to explore. I can give myself so much freedom through dance.” – Julia Newman

    ” Dance Troupe has really helped me to open up as a person. It helps me to express myself without words, just through body language, which ultimately helps me in my acting. In addition, I met a lot of amazing and super talented people, who I am great friends with now.” – Danel Azimova

    ” I get out of Dance Troupe the feeling and opportunity to reach out to others. I am able to interact with dedicated dancers that support one another. Just like any other branch of art, I can tell a story and get a message across, but in this case through music and movement.”- Sabrina Hartmann

    “Every rehearsal is amazing for me because I’m getting a lot of energy, love, good vibes, laughter and good workout.” – Elizaveta Emerenko 

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    June 14, 2018 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 251

  • Mariano Di Vaio Visits New York Film Academy Los Angeles Production Workshop & Guest Speaker Series

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    It was just another Production Workshop Thursday on the Universal Studios backlot in Los Angeles. New York Film Academy (NYFA) student crews sprawled across the European set searching for places to shoot, directors framed their shots, actors rehearsed their lines.

    Then he walked onto the backlot: Mariano Di Vaio, Italian fashion star, Forbes magazine top influencer under 30, and NYFA Acting for Film alumnus. Heads turned as he arrived to shoot a production workshop commercial with Directing Instructor Nick Sivakumaran and Cinematography Instructor Matt Kohnen.

    “It’s a dream come true to be on the backlot,” said Mariano. “I always said to myself maybe one day I could shoot something in Hollywood. And doing this student project, I feel like I’m rewinding back nine years to my student days.”

    In 2009, Mariano enrolled in an Acting for Film course at the New York Film Academy in New York. When he returned to his hometown of Perugia, Italy, he started a blog about men’s fashion that blew up on the web, netting him over 10 million followers on social media and enabling him to start his own clothing and hair product lines.

    Then he was back on a NYFA set collaborating with faculty and staff on a shoot designed to teach students and alumni how to film a commercial. It featured several of his brands: Mariano Di Vaio Limited Edition Hair Products, NOHOW clothing, and MDV Eyewear.

    Written by Nick Sivakumaran, who also directed, the commercial starts with Mariano walking past several NYFA crews shooting a variety of scenes. He notices one crew in particular — they are struggling to shoot a romantic scene between a guy and girl. The director is obviously frustrated at the lack of chemistry between them. Enter Mariano! He gestures to the director, “un moment,” takes aside the actor, and gives him a quick makeover using his hair products and sunglasses. Suddenly, the actor looks great, the actress is in love, and the director is thrilled! Mariano leaves as everyone looks at him in amazement and wonders, “Who was that guy?” 

    The fake crew consisted entirely of NYFA Acting for Film students and alumni. Ezra Ramos (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film), who played the actor and was styled by Mariano for the commercial, reported that “Mariano just opened up his suitcase and said ‘what’s your size’?” Then he rifled through the suitcase to hook Ezra up with MDV Collection suede loafers and a tropical white NoHow shirt festooned with tiny palm trees, pineapples, and bananas.

    Gulshan Salamli (Spring ’17 BFA Acting for Film) played the role of the unimpressed actress, and she said the shoot with Mariano was a very different experience from the usual production workshop. “Mariano is the star, obviously, and it is interesting to work with him, to play a supporting role and observe how much input a star has on set. I realized it’s okay to be in the shadows, that I can express myself yet serve the project at the same time.”

    Fake crew member Mackenzie Leslie (Summer ‘16 One Year Acting for Film) said she learned a lot on set, pointing at a huge flag on a C-stand that was blocking the bright California sun. “This production workshop has way more equipment than I’ve seen before,” she said.  “I’ve never filmed with a dolly. I’ve seen shots that were made that way, but never been in one.”

    Meanwhile, actors Elizabeth Otaola (Summer ‘16 MFA Acting for Film) and Christopher Rybka (Fall ‘15 AFA Acting for Film) discussed Mariano’s career. “He’s not a traditional actor. He’s inspired me to explore other options and ways of having an acting career,” said Elizabeth, who played the director. “Everything is going to evolve. Television and film will change in the next 20 years.  Smart people should be paying attention to that and create their own content and know about marketing.”

    Christopher concurred, saying, “It’s very unique that Mariano has used Instagram as a marketing tool to get out there rather than going to auditions and hoping someone picks him up.”

    The following night, Mariano entertained a full house of students at the NYFA Theater with humorous and informative tales about his career in a Q&A moderated by Film Festivals Advisor and Liaison Crickett Rumley. He emphasized the importance of setting small, achievable goals in pursuit of big dreams, and of approaching every task, learning opportunity, and job with passion — an outlook he attributed to his instructors at NYFA back in 2009.

    When asked what advice he had for students starting an Instagram account for the first time, Mariano replied,“I would start with videos if I had to start from scratch, because right now I think they are the key. The algorithm has changed, so it’s harder for people to just post photos.” More specifically, he “would definitely put up something about comedy because positivity, that’s what people like. Being happy is what people want to get from their phones.”

    Most importantly, Mariano encouraged students to do exactly what they had been doing when he walked onto the Universal backlot — collaborate with as many people as possible to increase social media following. “If all of you guys here start to do something together, even a small project, you already can reach how many? 10,000 people for sure.” Another reason to collaborate: “Sometimes when you talk and do something with other creative people, something better comes up, better than what you can do by yourself.”  

    Speaking of collaboration, the Mariano Di Vaio/NYFA Los Angeles commercial project will drop on social media sometime in May. Be on the lookout!

    NOTE: in addition to the students quoted above, the shoot also featured Paulina Hilla (Fall ’17 BFA Acting for Film) and Amber Satcher (Fall ‘16 MFA Acting for Film).  

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  • 2018 Acting for Film Alumni Industry Showcase a Success at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    On Wednesday, April 25, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles proudly presented their annual Alumni Industry Showcase at NYFA Theater. This showcase represented the very best from the AFA, BFA, and MFA Acting for Film program students who graduated from January 2017 – January 2018, and is attended by industry professionals.

    Photo by New York Film Academy.

    The evening was filled with short live scenes and an original short film, written by the alumni company and directed by NYFA Associate Chair of Acting for Film Christopher Cass.

    “Our goal is to showcase our students to be competitive with all the top schools in the country,” explained the director of the showcase and Associate Chair of Acting Anne Moore. “What sets NYFA apart is our focused Acting for Film training and international diversity.”

    “This is my favorite showcase of the year,” said casting director Billy DeMota.

    Overall the showcase was very successful, with top industry managers, agents, and casting directors in attendance from companies and agencies that included Evergreen Management, A.M.W. Talent Agency, Castboy Casting, Bella Agency, and Torque Entertainment.

    The alumni in attendance were equally enthusiastic and happy with the event.

    Spring 17 AFA grad Emily Morrison shared, “I’m very grateful to have been selected to partake in this year’s alumni showcase. It was a wonderful opportunity and allowed me to network with some great other alumni. Excited to see where everyone’s journey takes them.”

    Fall 17 MFA alum Vincson Green II agreed. “My experience at NYFA has been remarkable from the standpoint of being able to learn and understand movies and the techniques utilized in cinematic storytelling in order to create a compelling film,” he said. “Because of NYFA, I now watch films from a more educated perspective and can engage with them on a deeper intellectual level. Also, the acting program has opened up so many doors and gateways to new techniques and ways of approaching the craft that I had no prior knowledge of before attending the school.”
    Spring 17 MFA grad Zandi Zim said, “I loved learning about my craft alongside the professionals who could give us so many perspectives on their experience, past and present. It felt like we were all growing together and they were always pushing me to step up my game.”
    Fall 17 BFA Graduate Buffy Milner summed it all up: “I had a great experience doing the showcase and I’m so grateful to Anne for the opportunity. I had a lot of fun working on a great scene and putting on a show with a group of really talented actors.”
    New York Film Academy would like to thank all who participated and wishes our alumni the very best.
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  • Life is Beautiful for New York Film Academy Acting for Film Alum Giorgio Cantarini

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    Not many aspiring actors get to spend childhood performing alongside Russell Crowe and Roberto Benigni in international megahits like The Gladiator and Life is Beautiful, but New York Film Academy alum Giorgio Cantarini did.

    You may recognize Cantarini as the spontaneous, cherubic child actor who not only held his own but represented the emotional heart of each of those acclaimed films, but Cantarini has grown quite a bit since then — including in his acting technique. Wrapping up his studies at the NYFA New York Acting Conservatory, Cantarini sat down to share some of his insights with the NYFA Blog. Check out his incredible story.*

    *This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

    NYFA: You’ve been acting since you were 5 years old in Life is Beautiful, can just tell us a little bit about how you came to that film?

    GC: There was an article in the newspaper with casting description of the kids that they were looking for, and my uncle saw the description and was like, “Giorgio it’s the same as you, you have to go to the audition,” and so we went.

    … At the auditions I never acted. Roberto Benigni just wanted to talk with me and see how I reacted. And then of course on the set they explained to me the scene, what was happening.

    NYFA: From the time that you were working on Life is Beautiful through school, did you do any kind of school work involving acting?

    GC: After Life is Beautiful, after The Gladiator, growing up I didn’t want to be an actor because my role in Life is Beautiful was really attached to me … but then after high school everyone told me how talented I was, so I said to myself, okay, let’s see if really I have this talent. I went to Rome to enter a very selective school. Every year like 700 people try to get in and they choose 12: six girls and six guys. So when I was admitted I was really happy.

    I started acting because someone choose it for me, but now it was my choice, and this was a very big step for me to continue, and to discover that I’m good, and now I could study to be a professional, complete actor.

    NYFA:  How was your time studying with the New York Film Academy?

    GC: I had a really great month at NYFA, one of the best experience in my life — for the city, for everything, for New York, for the people.

    The standard is very different than the teaching approach in Italy. It is very different. It’s smart to direct small groups, and just do it, don’t think about it — do it, just do it!

    I really like NYFA a lot because of the action, and the professors too. The energy! I think that they have a lot of students every month, every year, a lot of different students — but every day they come in the class with the with a great energy, to work with you and do the best for you every single day. Seeing teachers every time have good energy, positive energy, and smiling, was inspiring.

    NYFA:  When you’re looking back at your experience at NYFA, is there anything you learned that you feel you’re going to take with you in your future career?

    GC: The technique from NYFA instructors Blanche Baker, Peter Allen Stone, and Victor Verhaeghe, and the scene analysis — truly, the class most important for me was Alison Hodge’s technique.

    NYFA: What inspires your work? Is there a specific film or actor that you always go to?

    GC: For me, Dustin Hoffman. Dustin Hoffman is ideal. When I watched The Graduate, I thought, “What a movie! What an actor.” I was impressed with Dustin Hoffman, he is my idol now and before. He’s a special actor…

     

    NYFA: Can you tell me a little bit about your film Il Dottore del Pesci (The Fish Doctor)?

    GC: The story is about a guy that has a fish shop, but he doesn’t sell the fish; he takes care of the fish. If someone goes out of town, the people can leave the fish with him and he’ll take care of them. His life is with the fishes. One day an American person from a TV network meets him and thinks he is perfect for a show about the the weirdest jobs in the world, like a freak show. My character’s English isn’t great, so he confuses the question and says yes without realizing what he’s signing up for.

    Life changes for him. He used to talk to a lot of people in a really, really small city, with a lot of old people. He has no family. And suddenly he’s in the U.S. and he’s really emotional. And I can’t tell you the finale but it’s so lovely.

    NYFA: Overall is there any advice that you would give to people that are interested in going into acting?

    GC: If you want to be an actor, you have to study a lot. Especially now, because with Netflix and YouTube and the web, a lot of people want to be an actor. Anyone can put his work on on the web, but that’s not a real actor. You bring the art with you.

    It takes a lot of study to understand and know who you are. To be a great actor, you have to know who you are. That’s the main reason that I am here in New York — I want to see when I leave home, and speak in another language with other people, who am I?

    It really was different here. I was different. I don’t know why, but this city or this situation with the school and the feeling with the classmates really gave me a new energy. New perspective, you know? New experiences. To be open and always beautiful. I love it.

    NYFA: What’s next for you?

    GC: I’m returning to Italy to start the second part of my scholarship, a theatre production that works with the people that were in prison, to be an actor and assistant director.

    Then, my next project will be to move to New York after the summer. I’m starting the process.  I want to come here now because, while I have an agent in France and Switzerland, I’d like to start a new journey in New York.

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  • New York Film Academy’s Peter Allen Stone Leads Introductory Acting Workshop for Veterans

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    There are many actors that have served in the military prior to discovering their talents on a film set or theatres’ stage. Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and even Mr. T are just a small sampling of those who wore the uniform before hitting it big in Hollywood.

    Veterans aspiring to the screen were invited from across the tri-state area for a very special introductory workshop to Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy last weekend.

    Under the energetic tutelage of NYFA Acting for Film Chair Peter Allen Stone, attendees found the acting exercises to be engaging and enjoyable as they worked through dialogue designed to help students better understand acting in front of the camera.

    Dozens of service members, many of whom are producers, writers, and directors in their own respect, were excited to offer their first lines in front of a rolling camera.

    “Acting is fun!” radiated Peter Allen Stone at the conclusion of the class. “Thank you all for your work today — it’s really great when there is a lot of energy and people are passionate about learning these techniques.”

    After the class, New York Film Academy’s Division of Veteran Services’ staff was on hand to offer assistance about Department of Veteran Affairs-related benefits.

    A participant checks his mark and waits for “Action!” as Chair of NYFA Acting for Film Program Peter Stone sets the scene.

    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) has been privileged to enroll more than 1,500 veteran students and military dependents at our campuses in New York City, NY, Los Angeles, CA, and South Beach, FL., since 2009. The Los Angeles and South Beach campuses also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program, which allows eligible veterans and dependents in many cases the opportunity to go to school tuition and fee free. The honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

    Join us on Facebook or go to www.NYFA.edu/veterans for more information.

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  • Congratulations to the Winter Class of 2018 at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    New York Film Academy would like to congratulate another class of graduating students.

    The end of a program is always a bittersweet time, as our students and instructors develop a strong bond over the many intense hours spent learning, practicing, and crafting projects, but before the winter class of 2018 walked across the graduation stage to accept their diplomas, the New York Film Academy celebrated all the graduates’ work with a series of final pres

    entations. The day before graduation, all students were given an opportunity to show off their work for family, friends, and entertainment professionals. Filmmaking, Documentary, Acting for Film and Cinematography students held their final screenings at the Riverside Theater and on the Warner Brothers Studios backlot. Photography students had their work displayed in galleries throughout Los Angeles. Game Design students held a game night where anyone in the school could play their games. Writing and Producing students had evenings where they could pitch their projects to industry professionals.

    The winter 2018 graduation ceremony was held at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Hollywood. The graduating class of 2018 was so large the ceremony had to be broken into two parts. Both ceremonies were standing room only. Families and friends came from all over the world.

    In his graduation speech, NYFA Instructor Mike Civille asked the students to think of their education as a gift. He said, “You come from places near and far. You have treated each other and your instructors to your fascinating stories. In this process, you have joined the great filmmakers who have also spoken to audiences about what was important to them. You have learned a new universal language. It’s young, only 100 years old. It crosses both political and cultural borders. This was the gift of the Lumiere brothers and it has traveled all the way to you. Use it wisely to tell your story.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate all of the incredible students who have completed their training here. We look forward to watching your films, playing your games, seeing your photographs, and celebrating your creative endeavors for years to come. Congratulations.

    1-Year Acting for Film

    Frederick Scott Basnight II

    Marlo Butler

    Emmanuel Pierre Cartier

    Undarga Enkhbaatar

    Isaac Wesley Fairley

    Gillian Griffin

    Terrel Mollison

    2-Year Acting for Film

    Daniel Berry

    Rodrigo Borges

    Peter Gomes

    Raymond Karago

    Tiara Donyae Murray

    Kurtis Potter

    Taraiyasi Hans Prymwaqa

    Matthew Robertson

    BFA Acting for Film

    Jazmin Hamilton

    Luis  Cordoba

    Zhiyun Zhou

    MFA Acting for Film

    Rajarshi Banerjee

    Taylor Byers

    Rebecca Cannizzaro

    Rei Alona Kennex Crossman

    Sumaia De Oliveira Radwan

    Jason Dolciani

    Anna Francisca Salles Marques Da Silva

    Craijece Lewis

    Lara Manatta Tenorio

    Jaylyn Neal

    An Thien Phan

    Leandro Luis Pineda Torres

    Aathira Rajeev

    Amber Resha Satcher

    Ke Shuai

    Eric Slaughter

    Lun Tan

    Julien Webb

    2-Year Producing

    Reginald E. Luck

    Nicole Zapata Quiles

    MFA Producing

    Johnnie Christopher Brown

    Kimbra Essex

    Xuan Liu

    Bahaguli Rehemutula

    Yosuke Sugimoto

    Bakhytzhan Urakhayev

    Liying Zhu

    BFA Screenwriting

    Zeyad Al Mutawa

    Katie Clem

    Seth Morton

    Louise Nyberg

    Patrick Kellam Lyons Stinich

    MFA Screenwriting

    Maria Androushko

    Katrina Brown

    Luis Alfredo Gonzalez

    Luke Jarret

    Harmony Kasper

    Joseph Knable

    Carmen Nelson

    Shane Redding

    Raul Ravindrakumar Sharma

    Melarissa Benedicta Sjarief

    Abigail Spencer

    Adam Tetelbaum

    Elon Washington

    MFA Photography

    Brittney Cathcart

    Monika Sedziute

    Yunzhi Wang

    MFA Documentary Filmmaking

    Hanan Higgi

    Amjad Tkroni

    Zhengyi Zhong

    MFA Game Design

    Nouf Bagazi

    Grace Ogwo

    Grettir Olafsson

    Santosh Peri

    Hetian Wang

    AFA Filmmaking

    Awana Morris

    BFA Filmmaking

    Ahmed Adil

    Hamda Al Midfa

    Ahmed Alghamdi

    Lionel Allen

    Saleh Mohammed Almalki

    Abdulaziz Almughrbi

    Faris Salah Beitar

    Danila Butovskiy

    Yujing Gao

    Yaser Hammad

    Wesley Garin Hobbs

    Lingxiao Jin

    Michael Moran

    Muhammad Raheem Sultan

    Victor Valerio

    Paulina Zamorano Castillo

    Marc Vital Guerin

    Jialei Li

    Yaonan Liu

    Topaz Peretz

    Yiding Xia

    Federico Sanna

    MA Film & Media Production

    Praveen Albert

    Oliver Berger

    Mansi Nitin Desai

    Qiqi Duan

    Hongzhi Guo

    Maryna Kovalevska

    Katlego Makhudu

    Natsumi Shibata

    Brionna Sutton

    Alessandro Turco

    Donatela Vacca

    Nihal Vasudevan

    Chuning Wang

    Ala Waznah

    Bingqi Xue

    Shipeng Yu

    MFA Filmmaking

    Khalid Ahmed Alsghair Ismail

    Roque Banos

    Siyuan Chen

    Chaaritha Dheerasinghe

    Travis Donald

    Weilun Feng

    Guoqing Fu

    Jialin Fu

    Yuanmei Ge

    Tingting Hua

    Shuntian Jiang

    Hongdon Lee

    Yixiang Li

    Hai Yao Liang

    Na Liu

    Yiwen Liu

    Jianan Ma

    Sholpan Murabuldayeva

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Guangtao Pi

    Hugo Machado Salvaterra

    George Savidis

    Zicheng Tian

    Jiewen Wang

    Qiushi Xi

    Yuanyuan Xu

    Yuan Yue

    Han Zeng

    Shiyun Zeng

    Haoruo Zhang

    Hao Zhang

    Yuqing Zhang

    Jingwei Zhou

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  • New York Film Academy Alum DonnaLee Roberts in Production for Stroomop in South Africa

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    DonnaLee Roberts via IMDB

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film grad DonnaLee Roberts is a model for on-screen performers seeking to build their own career, their way.

    The prolific, award-winning South African performer-turned-writer/producer is now shooting feature-length adventure film Stroomop, in which she not only stars but also serves as co-writer and co-producer.

    Stroomop is the directorial debut of Roberts’ frequent collaborator and fellow South African A-lister Ivan Botha, who shared the screen with Roberts in South African blockbusters Vir Altyd and Pad na jou Hart, which the team also co-wrote and co-produced.

    Screen Africa reports that Stroomop is slated for a nationwide release on South Africa’s Women’s Day, Aug. 9, 2018, through the distributor Ster-Kinekor Entertainment.

    Roberts, who holds South Africa’s prestigious Huisgenoot Tempo Award for both Best Actress and Best Feature Film, told Screen Africa that she did some serious water training in preparation for Stroomop, which follows five women on a whitewater rafting misadventure on the Orange River.

    “My character finds herself in a situation where she must take the lead in rough waters,” Roberts said, “So it was crucial for me to be fully prepared for the challenges of filming on the river.”

    At a moment when the eyes of the world are on Hollywood’s gender imbalance, it’s especially exciting to see Roberts leading the way both on screen and behind-the-scenes as a content creator. Roberts summed up her strong work ethic and inspiring outlook well in a previous interview with the NYFA Blog:

    “In this industry we are all creative beings. Create the world you want to play in, create the characters you want to portray. It takes long hours of hard work, commitment and passion to make your dreams come true. The 8-Week Acting for Film Program at the New York Film Academy inspired and motivated me even more. I thought, I can now do this by myself. I don’t need to wait for success to fall onto my lap.”

    Bravo, DonnaLee!

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  • From the Olympics to “Vikings” with New York Film Academy Acting Alum Ragga Ragnars

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Ragga Ragnars has quite the resume: the two-time-Olympic-swimmer-turned-actress recently snagged a role on the hit show “Vikings.” NYFA had the chance to sit down and catch up with her via email in between her busy schedule filming in Ireland and Iceland, to discuss her transition from athlete to actress.
    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to the New York Film Academy?

    RR: I have been a swimmer all my life and for about 15 years I was a professional swimmer. I swam at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and after sitting out the 2012 Olympics to have my son, I decided that it was time to pursue my other passion, acting.

    I have always loved California and, as a teenager, I swam in Mission Viejo, where I also attended high school for a while. I also swam in Ventura for a while in my 20s and always loved coming to California. It had always been like a second home to me. So when I was looking at acting schools, NYFA kept popping up.

    I had looked into NYFA a few times before and decided I would start with an 8-Week Acting for Film program to see if I liked it. I had my son and my family with me and needed to make sure it was the right choice before committing to a longer course. I, of course, loved the 8-week program and enrolled in a one-year program right away.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us?

    RR: I made so many great friends while attending NYFA and got to know so many amazing teachers and instructors. There are so many moments that stand out for me and it’s hard to choose just one to mention. I do remember some great Q&A sessions with people from the industry that really taught me a lot. I also loved working on the backlot and getting to experience that aspect of the courses.

    NYFA: Why acting? What inspired you to shift gears in life to pursue your acting career?

    RR: Acting has always been a passion I have had. While I was swimming, acting was always in the back of my head. I don’t think it’s something I decided. I just always knew I would be an actress. Since I can remember, I knew that it was something I had to do.

    NYFA: You came back for the 1-Year Acting for Film program after finishing a short-term program with us — what made you decide to go to our conservatory?

    RR: I had such an amazing time in the 8-week program that I knew I wanted to keep going. I wanted to see how it would work out having a family and a young son with me so far away from the rest of my family. It was easier than I expected and my son loved the California sunshine, so it was a no-brainer. I also knew I had more to learn from the great teachers and instructors at NYFA.

    NYFA: Many of our students can relate to your experience of coming to learn the arts in a foreign country. What was it like for you as an international student, coming to study at NYFA Los Angeles? Can you tell us a bit about that experience?

    RR: Because California has always been like a second home to me, I almost felt like I was not an international student and more of a local. I knew LA pretty well and while at NYFA I got to know the city better.

    The only thing that I can remember being a difficult aspect of being an international student was to make sure that all of the paperwork was correct and that I had everything in order. With great help from NYFA it wasn’t too hard, but with getting a Visa, applying for an OPT and all of that, it was definitely a challenge. It was all worth it and I am so happy I decided to give it a try.

    NYFA: You’ve competed in the Olympics as a swimmer, and now you are working as an actor on “Vikings.” As a career-changer, what would you say was the most challenging and the most surprising part of going from one intense career to another?

    RR: The most surprising thing is how similar my life is, from when I was a competitive swimmer. Working on a big production is hard work, I want to stay in good shape and get ready for a day of work similar to when I was competing. I work out, warm up before big scenes, meditate and take care of what I eat in the same way I did when I was preparing for the World Championships or competing at the Olympics. There is so much time spent in preparing for scenes, learning dialogue and text, working on a character and getting ready. I am happy that I have years of experience as a swimmer in being focused, determined and knowing that nothing comes for free.

    It takes hard work for a long time to achieve goals and you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

    NYFA: Can you tell us about your experience working on “Vikings” — are there any surprises or challenges you’ve encountered in working internationally in Ireland and Iceland?

    RR: Ireland and Iceland are quite similar places. I feel like Irish people have a lot in common with the Icelandic — very welcoming and have a bit of a small town vibe to them, just like in Iceland. It has been difficult to be away from my son who attends school in Iceland, but I travel back and forth quite a bit and he comes to Ireland every time we can manage that. I have loved the process so far and I am looking forward to continuing working internationally and broadening my horizon even more in this field.

    NYFA: Do you have any advice for our current students in transitioning from our conservatory training to the real world?

    RR: My advice is to set goals with everything you do and want to do in life and enjoy the process, the good and the bad.

    Rejection from one place is not the end of the road.

    Also, there is not one way to achieve success in this business. I signed with an agent before I even finished NYFA, I had a few agents who wanted to sign me and I thought that was the only way to get ahead. Then when I realized that the partnership was not working, I decided to do it on my own and that proved to be the right way for me at the time.

    But I learned from every failed audition and self tape, from every production I worked on while on my OPT, and I always kept up a positive attitude towards my goals.

    NYFA: Would you say your time studying at NYFA was at all useful in preparing for the work you are doing today?

    RR: Absolutely. I learned so much while attending NYFA. So many things were new to me as an actor before I attended NYFA. I feel like I got a very extensive overview of techniques and tools to choose from while working. Not everything that I learned works for me and some things I learned I have kept on learning after NYFA. I keep in touch with some of my teachers in NYFA and I feel like all of them took a real interest in teaching us and even as a former student, being able to send a quick line to a former teacher and still getting help with something is amazing.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Ragga for taking the time to share a part of her journey with our community.

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  • New York Film Academy Master Class With Lyle Kessler Wraps With Impressive Performances

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    NYFA Master Class with Lyle Kessler

    NYFA Master Class with Lyle Kessler

    This December, students from the New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film 2-Year Conservatory performed scenes written and directed by renowned actor/playwright Lyle Kessler. The performances were the culmination of an 8-Week Master Class taught by Kessler, who has been an icon in the world of theatre for several decades.

    Kessler studied acting under industry legend Lee Strasberg and has been a longtime member of the famed Actor’s Studio. Kessler had the opportunity to play Strasberg in the 2001 biopic “James Dean.”

    Kessler is best known as a playwright though, with numerous works that have helped shape the modern era of American theatre. For Peter Allen Stone, New York Film Academy’s Chair of Acting for Film, Kessler was a vital part of his education. “I used to dig through his plays in my college library looking for monologues and scenes many years ago,” remarked Stone, “so it was something special for me to get to know him and come full circle.”

    Scene from "The Display Man"

    Scene from “The Display Man”

    The best known work written by Kessler is “Orphans,” which first debuted in 1983 at Chicago’s world-renowned Steppenwolf Theatre and was originally directed by Gary Sinise. It was later adapted into a feature film starring Matthew Modine and Albert Finney, and has been performed on Broadway as recently as 2013 with Alec Baldwin and Ben Foster.

    After running the playwriting division of the Actor’s Studio in Los Angeles for many years, Kessler is still active and working with the Actor’s Studio in New York City. The NYFA students attending Kessler’s Master Class were able to visit the Actor’s Studio as part of their course. Student Elizabeth Hopland reflected that “going to the Actor’s Studio was a highlight of my acting career so far, thanks to Lyle.”

    The NYFA students who were privileged to work with Kessler started in Fall 2016, and began their 2nd Year training in the summer of 2017. Each session of the 8-week Master Class focused on a specific aspect of the craft, like the inner anger of a particular character. The acting students worked on scenes from new works written by Kessler, who directed and worked closely with them throughout the course.

    Scene from "Prisoner"

    Scene from “Prisoner”

    The scenes were two-person dialogues, with the acting students performing multiple roles and plays. One of Kessler’s new works included “Prisoner,” about a privileged woman tied up during a burglary, who poked and prodded her captor while trying to learn more about him. Other new works included “The Display Man” and “The Great Divide,” the latter concerning two brothers dealing with a woman claiming to be pregnant with the older brother’s child.

    The final session of the Master Class included performances of the scenes for a small audience, including New York Film Academy president Michael Young. The final scenes of the evening were from another of Kessler’s new works—“Temptation”—about inappropriate sexual behavior between a psychiatrist and his patient, a story and theme that is especially relevant in today’s current Hollywood climate.

    Kessler Directing "Prisoner"

    Kessler Directing “Prisoner”

    One of the performers, student Agnes Hedwall Schmidt, remarked “What I liked most about working with Lyle was the way he made the work a collaboration. We give him our view of the text and the character, he gives his, and together we create a scene that is so much fun to act in, and allows me to keep growing and learning as an actor.” Schmidt added, “I had so much fun working with Lyle!”

    The appreciation was mutual—the performances ended with Kessler thanking the students for their strong, courageous work, and the students overwhelmingly thanking Kessler for his invaluable training and direction. Of the students, Kessler said he was “very impressed by the work and talent of the group of actors at NYFA who acted in my plays. They kept growing in their roles. A real commitment.”

    The Acting for Film students couldn’t ask for a better compliment from an artist of Kessler’s stature. The New York Film Academy thanks Lyle Kessler for giving our students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study and learn from one of the theatre world’s greats.

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    December 22, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 2270

  • New York Film Academy Alumna Kellyanne Chippendale Talks “Meisnered” at NYFA Los Angeles

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    On Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, director and comedian Kellyanne Chippendale brought her short documentary “Meisnered” to the New York Film Academy. The film chronicles her experiences studying the Meisner Technique, and how it changed her life. The documentary also includes the short film “Getting Meisnered.” Director of the Q&A Series Tova Laiter and Chair of Acting for Film Anne Moore hosted the evening.

    Kellyanne Chippendale had an unconventional path into the entertainment industry. She began the same way as many, with a passion for watching movies that was passed down from her parents. But by the time she was in college, her focus had shifted. She went to school for broadcast journalism, focused on becoming an educator, and thought about having a family.

    “I taught every single subject and every single grade except math,” Chippendale said. But something was missing. She wanted to try acting, but the audition process never seemed to go her way. “I’d prepare so well and then once I got into the room…” So she did what any rational adult would do: She joined a stand-up comedy class. When they asked her to come back the following season she knew she was on to something.

    Her continued hard work led her to wear many hats for the company. “I started producing my own shows because that’s the only way you can make money in comedy when you’re first starting out.” She began with dinner shows, where patrons would pay $50 a table to have dinner and a show. Through this she began to form relationships with other comedians, getting invited to perform at other shows, and building a roster for her own performances.

    Her film “Getting Meisnered” is about this process of becoming an actress and, more specifically, about her instructor, Wolfgang, who helped her have a major breakthrough in acting through the Meisner technique. She says this experience changed her life. The idea of working off an actor’s true essence and building a scene with a partner was a philosophy she was able to take into her real life.

    Moore and Chippendale gave a short demonstration of one of the Meisner exercises. One actor makes an observation about the other. Then the statement is acknowledged and repeated as the actors search for the truth in the moment.

    One student asked which books would be best to read if they were interested in studying the Meisner technique independently. The answer they received was “Meisner on Acting” and Larry Silverberg’s four-part series “The Sanford Meisner Approach: An Actor’s Workbook.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Chippendale for taking the time to speak with our students. Check out her short film “Getting Meisnered” on IMDB by clicking here.

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    November 16, 2017 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 797