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  • Acting Advice From Instructor Robert Lipton

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    rob liptonBeing brought up in New York City with a passion for acting, New York Film Academy Acting for Film Instructor Robert Lipton was fortunate enough to have studied with both Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg. Like so many other successful actors in the business, Lee and Stella shaped Lipton as an actor and teacher of the craft. With an extensive list of film, television and theatre credits like Bullit, Die Hard 2, The X-Files, Melrose Place and many more, Lipton’s experience has been a valuable tool for blossoming actors in the classroom.

    “I love working with young people at the Academy — the changes are dramatic and it all happens very quickly,” says Lipton. “I believe great actors don’t happen by accident. They have a method, a technique, a way of working.”

    One of the most important pieces of advice Lipton stresses is not to go out into the “real world” of acting until you are truly ready. Rather, be sure you’ve mastered your craft through student films, small theater performanes, or other independent projects that provide you with real behind the camera experience. The reason being, when you go on auditions without having quite found your comfort zone, casting directors will notice and remember you. This makes it much more difficult when you keep coming across a casting director who has already dismissed you as a talented actor.

    Lipton 60s“I’ve known actors over the years who were talented but didn’t audition well. Most of them have moved on to other careers. It’s unfortunate, but a fact of life,” admits Lipton. “Don’t audition well — don’t get the part.”

    Having been on countless auditions throughout his career, Lipton has gathered this: to have a successful audition an actor must have a technique in place. It will give them confidence in their choices and allow them to become more relaxed and focused.

    While acting is in his blood for life, Lipton’s recent focus has been more toward screenwriting. He’s recently optioned a television series, which is semi-autobiographical, and has another project that he feels can be a success in today’s market. Knowing the material is crucial toward the overall success of the film, and plays hand-in-hand with the actors’ performances.

    “For me, it’s about understanding the material and the character’s relation to it. Most problems come from an actor not getting the logic of a scene and the character’s objective in it. Understanding a character’s overall objective in a script or play helps an actor to find meaningful choices that support the logic of the material.” Another valuable piece of advice that actors and filmmakers alike should understand before going into production.

    It has been a privilege to have Mr. Lipton as a member of our esteemed staff of instructors. It’s artists like Robert Lipton that continue to make the New York Film Academy’s Acting for Film Program one of the most sought after institutions for aspiring young actors.

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    February 12, 2015 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 11700

  • Fort Bliss Screening with Michelle Monaghan and Gbenga Akinnagbe

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    Fort Bliss Screening

    One of the most common approaches for actors to take on their character in a given scene is to ask themselves the five W’s: Who, what, when, where, and why. Such was the advice from our recent guest and star of Fort Bliss, Michelle Monaghan. Michelle, who recently starred in HBO’s True Detective, played the leading lady whose character returns home from an extended tour in Afghanistan and struggles to rebuild her relationship with her young son. “I couldn’t believe what an amazing role this was,” Michelle told to a full house of New York Film Academy students. “The script was near perfect and completely original.”

    Our other guest, actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, known for playing Chris in the HBO hit The Wire, wholeheartedly agreed with Michelle in terms of the material’s originality. To them, one of the most important aspects of the film was its ability to inform the audience of the difficulties soldiers face when returning home from combat. The two of them went to the actual Fort Bliss to sink their teeth into the environment and ultimately film at the location. The film’s authenticity really shined on the screen.

    Gbenga and Michelle were gracious guests, answering insightful questions from students and our moderator, Acting for Film Chair, Glynis Rigsby. Of all of the advice that was given, one that stood in particular from Michelle was in regards to the actor’s audition process, “If I can at least make a connection with the casting director, that’s a plus.” She added, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember, they want you to get that job. After all, they invited you.”

    As for Gbenga, his wisdom was to not wrap yourself up into the business too much. “Do and value things outside this business.” His advice came after his years of experience, noting how stressed actors can become when their entire life becomes ‘the industry’. Indeed something to think about when embarking on such a strenuous and competitive field.

    You can watch the Q&A in its entirety in the video below.

     

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    September 19, 2014 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 6904

  • Acting Alumni Spotlight: Mia Ella Jordan Stars in ‘Basketball Girlfriend’

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    Mia Ella Jordan

    Within two months of graduating from New York Film Academy’s One-Year Acting for Film Conservatory, Mia Ella Jordan was cast in the feature film, Basketball Girlfriend, which is now available to rent on RedBox. She was also in Jez Dior’s music video, Who Drank My Whiskey, which, at one point in time earlier this year, was the #1 song trending on Twitter. Aside from those two projects, she was the lead actress in the short, I-589, which premiered at the LA Indie Film Festival.

    Hailing from Santiago de Chile, Mia had originally auditioned with Basketball Girlfriend director Jean-Claude La Marre for another project and, some time later, he called her in to audition for the role of Jenny and cast her that day. This is fairly common in the industry, so don’t get too discouraged when you don’t land the initial audition. Maintain strong relationships with directors and casting directors.

    Mia had been working in theatre for quite a while and while she loved it, her heart was in film. After attending an international school fair in Santiago, she was drawn to NYFA. Mia felt the Acting for Film courses were the perfect compliment to her previous acting training in theatre.

    “The Meisner technique has been the most useful to me in terms of auditioning and being on-set,” said Mia. “I’ve heard from a lot of actors and even some agents that Meisner doesn’t help in auditions, but to me listening is everything because it sustains my being in the present and so it instills me in my truth.”

    Mia eventually hopes to reach a point in her career where she can choose specific roles that truly resonate with her. As an actress, she believes she has a wonderful responsibility with the audience and wants to honor it by creating and being a part of projects that truly inspire and make a difference.

    Recently, Mia finished acting in another music video for Jez Dior’s single, Clean Me Up. She’s also finishing up filming a short film, I Forgot You Were Here, where she plays a blind woman in a troubled relationship. “I love it because it’s not moral and I believe art never should be,” she says.

    Check out Mia Ella Jordan in Jez Dior’s Who Drank My Whiskey.

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    August 13, 2014 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6181

  • Memorial Day Scholarship for Military Service Members & Veterans

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    NYFA Veterans

    In appreciation of the brave men and women who protect our nation, the New York Film Academy is providing an exclusive opportunity for military service members and honorably discharged veterans to receive a 4-Week Scholarship to study at either our Los Angeles or New York campus during the 2014 calendar year.

    We’re offering three 4-Week Scholarships–one in each of the following disciplines:
    • Filmmaking
    • Acting for Film
    • Photography (Please note: 4-Week photography students are required to have their own DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera with them at the start of the program)

    To be eligible to be selected as a scholarship winner, we ask:

    Participants need to create a 90-second video telling us your story, and upload it to your YouTube channel.

    Topics to include in the video:

    • Your military background and experience
    • Which program you want to study (Acting for Film, Filmmaking or Photography)
    • Why you want to pursue your passion at the New York Film Academy
    • Anything else you would like to share with us to help shape your story

    In addition to the above points, we encourage participants to include a sampling of their creative work within the video. Perhaps you could edit in a snippet of a short film you’ve created, a scene in which you’ve acted in, or a couple of your iconic photographs. While this is not mandatory, it never hurts to show off your artistic skills!

    How to Submit

    Participants must upload their 90-second video to their YouTube channel with the title “New York Film Academy Memorial Day Competition – Your Title/Name (ex. “Sergeant John Doe”).

    Once you have uploaded your video onto YouTube, copy the video’s URL link and paste it into a post to NYFA’s Veterans Facebook page. In your post to NYFA, include your name and contact information so we can reach the winners. If you’re uncomfortable posting your contact information online, please email your details and the link to your post to competition@nyfa.edu.

    Deadline

    Videos must be properly submitted by Memorial Day: Monday, May 26th 2014 by 11:59PM.

    How the Winners Are Selected

    The winners will be determined based on the following combination:

    • The story told to us in your video
    • The public’s response to your video on our Facebook page (therefore, don’t forget to share a link with your friends and family to our Facebook page so they can like, share and comment on your video!)
    • You’re able to submit a copy of your DD214 directly to NYFA, once we’ve contacted you as possible winner.
    • Winners will be announced before the end of June 2014!

    If you have any questions, please email competition@nyfa.edu with “Memorial Day” in the subject line. For more information about our Veterans Benefits, visit: www.nyfa.edu/veterans

    We look forward to your entries!

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    February 28, 2014 • Acting, Contests, Filmmaking, Photography, Veterans • Views: 5128

  • On Set of ‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ with NYFA’s Acting Students

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    New York Film Academy Acting students recently had the rare opportunity of stepping onto one of the busiest sets in television, NCIS: Los Angeles as well as visiting their post production facilities on the Paramount Studios lot with Acting for Film Instructor, Melissa Sullivan.

    Paramount set

    Paramount set

    Our gracious host, Eric Whitmyre, Producer and head of the Editorial Department, discussed the show’s processes for each episode from production to post-production. Students got a first hand look of the editorial facilities, meeting editor Ed Sailor and the assistant editor Eric Lucas, before touring the sound stages that include a massive two-story set piece of the main headquarters in the show.

    Eric Olsen

    Eric Olsen

    Eric Christian Olsen, who plays ‘Detective Marty Deeks’ in the show, gave us a few minutes of his time and kind words about his life experiences as an actor.

    Students were also greeted whole-heartedly by LL Cool J, who plays ‘Special Agent Sam Hanna.’

    A big thanks to Eric Whitmyre and the NCIS: Los Angeles family for the visit and their time.

    -Shawn Dawes

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    December 12, 2013 • Acting • Views: 6202

  • NYFA Students Star in Richie Ramone’s New Music Video

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    Richie Ramone

    Richie Ramone

    As the drummer of the legendary New York punk rock group, The Ramones, Richie Ramone channels his experiences to perform in the short film/music video, Criminal, directed by Steven Hanft.

    “Ramone came to me with a limited video budget and asked if I could make him a music video that was a full on psycho thriller with a plot,” said Steven Hanft. “Something with suspense, like a Hitchcock TV show, or like Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers. I said yeah, I could try. I penned the script going with the idea of a short suspense film about two desperate bank robbers hiding out on the outskirts of Los Angeles.”

    Through the help of New York Film Academy Acting for Film Instructor, Melissa Sullivan, Steven was able to cast two of her student actors, Bonnie Lawrence and Nikita Tserev, to play the young outlaw lead parts in the short.

    The video is slated to premiere on Billboard.com in early January 2014 and will coincide with the release of Richie Ramone’s single Criminal.

    Nikita pool close up _Criminal_

    Nikita Tserva

    Bonnie Lawrence

    Bonnie Lawrence

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    December 9, 2013 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4263

  • NYFA On the Lot: Paramount Studios

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    IMG_5444

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film students on the Paramount Studios backlot

    New York Film Academy Acting for Film students were recently invited to tour Paramount Studios, and visit the set of NCIS: Los Angeles, the popular television drama starring Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J.

    In the conference room with Erik Whitmyre, Co-Producer for NCIS: Los Angeles

    In the conference room with Erik Whitmyre, Co-Producer for NCIS: Los Angeles

    Paramount Studios, the last major studio in Hollywood proper, moved into its current home in 1927. Paramount built its legacy as the home to legendary actors and directors including Mae West, W.C. Fields, D.W. Griffith, Cecil B. DeMille, the Marx Brothers, and Claudette Colbert. Students entered the historic lot, walking past trailers and crew working on the hit TV show, Glee, before moving onto the Technicolor building. Working on projects for HBO and Marvel, Technicolor has the highest security for any post-production building in the world.

    Inside the conference room, Erik Whitmyre, Co-Producer for NCIS: Los Angeles, spoke to excited students about all aspects of filming and post-production. He spoke about what makes an actor great, the importance of physical continuity (while being able to alter the emotional performance of his/her character), attitude on set, how the voice translates on film, and what makes a great close-up.

    On the set of NCIS: Los Angeles

    On the set of NCIS: Los Angeles

    Students then visited the editing team, where Assistant Editor Eric Wilson showed them the latest episodes they were working on. Whitmyre explained the evolution of technology, the systems that editors had worked on in the past, and what they are working with now. Students also spoke with VFX Supervisor Robert Konuch. Along with Russell Welch and James Olney, the team had overseen the effects on CSI: Miami, and are now working with the NCIS: Los Angeles crew. Robert and the team were busy at work, adding snow to a winter scene shot in the desert. Before leaving the NCIS set, students got to take a visit to the set of NCIS headquarters.

    The students ended their tour at the studio’s Bronson Gate, where Norma Desmond entered the lot in Sunset Blvd. Legend has it that the upper filigree was added to the gate after a throng of adoring female fans swarmed security and climbed the gate, trying to chase silent film star Rudolph Valentino!

    IMG_5448 IMG_5418 IMG_5411 IMG_5367 IMG_5342 IMG_5458

     

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    March 27, 2013 • Academic Programs, Acting • Views: 4866

  • Taiwanese Celeb Attends NYFA Acting Workshop

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    finalhannahQA2A8760

    Hannah Quinlivan recently finished a 8-Week Acting for Film Workshop at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus. The Taiwanese-Australian actress first gained attention in Taiwan when she joined a successful girl group in 2008. Since then she has worked as a model, acted on a television drama, and has been a host on MTV and game shows. She recently landed her first major role in a feature film, and came to New York Film Academy to brush up on her acting skills.

    “I’ve had a really good time here. I really jumped out of my safe zone,” she says. “That was a really big step for me. And I really enjoyed my time shooting on the Universal Studios backlot. I used to really enjoy the Universal tour, and now I got the chance to shoot there!” Hannah says she loved the short-term program and looks forward to returning to New York Film Academy soon.

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  • Actors Can Never Stop Learning

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    After dreaming of studying acting in New York for ten years, South African native, Donnalee Roberts made her dreams come true with New York Film Academy’s 8 Week Acting for Film workshop. However, Donnalee came to NYFA with an already blossoming career in acting and filmmaking back at home. Roberts is a regular on the popular South African soap, 7de Laan, where she plays the vibrant young waitress, Annelie. “It is amazing to play this part,” said Donnalee. “A lot of young girls can relate to the character.”

    In addition to her work on the popular television show, Donnalee will star in the feature film, Klein Karoo. The film plays off the central location of the South African town, Klein Karoo. Landing the role was another dream of Donnalee’s, rewarding her the opportunity to work with a director she’s always admired and respected. Though, she wasn’t always lucky in her career. Donnalee spoke about perseverance and maintaining a positive attitude in the highly competitive field of acting. “You can go on 100 auditions and never get the part. It just means the part wasn’t meant for you, but don’t give up.”

    Next, Donnalee will be playing the lead in a new romantic comedy, Pad na jou HART (Road to Your Heart), which she co-wrote and is co-producing. “I’m very excited about where the South African film industry is going.”

    Aside from her passionate acting and filmmaking work, Donnalee is heavily involved with a charity called Children of Fire. The charity aids young burn victims in South Africa. For more information on how you can help in this cause visit their website: http://www.firechildren.org.

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  • From Hollywood to Bollywood

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    Originally from Kolkata, India, Sharad Malhotra took an early interest in sports. He played soccer and cricket as a child. He went on to play professionally for the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB). He also spent some time working as a financial advisor. He hadn’t really considered a life on the silver screen, but at his girlfriend’s suggestion, Sharad got in contact with scouts from Zee TV, a leading entertainment channel in India — a choice changed the course of his life.

    After getting good feedback and support from Zee TV, Sharad moved to Mumbai where he began going on auditions. He modeled for a number of national and international print campaigns before landing a leading role on Banoo Main Teri Dulhann, a wildly popular Indian soap opera.

    He won several Best Actor awards for his work on the television show, but Sharad says, “I was hungry to learn more and better the craft. So as soon as my show ended, I headed toward the mecca of acting and filmmaking.” Impressed by New York Film Academy’s list of notable grads (including Paul Dano and Owen Kline, and Bollywood actors Imran Khan and Ahana Deol), Sharad decided to move from the west coast of India to the west coast of America, to attend the school’s Los Angeles campus.

    “It was a beautiful amalgamation of students of different… creeds, color, religions, nationalities, all coming under one roof with their own unique creative abilities and bonding over a common passion called cinema,” he says. “As we say in India, NYFA is a complete paisa wasool — worth every penny!”

    Since completing an Acting for Film program in 2009, Sharad has been busy at work in Mumbai. He recently completed his first Bollywood feature film, From Sydney With Love – the story of a small town girl from West Bengal who finds a new love and a new life while attending school in Australia. Sharad is looking forward to the Indian premiere of From Sydney With Love on August 31. The buzz about the film has already led to interest from film directors looking to book him for future projects.

    Sharad describes his journey as, “nothing short of a beautiful roller coaster ride…. It helped me mature as a person and made me realize that the essential five ingredients that are solely responsible for fulfilling dreams: patience, hard work, determination, belief, and finally the luck factor to put it all in place. From a cricketer to a financial advisor to a model and now an actor, it’s been one helluva fun trip.”

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