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  • Time’s Up and #MeToo Dominate the 2018 Golden Globes

    Oprah

    Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globe Awards. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

    This year’s Golden Globe Awards was clearly different from years past, and not because it was the 75th anniversary ceremony. Nearly all women in attendance, and many of the men, wore all black in a sign of solidarity for the Time’s Up initiative — a response to the gender inequality and sexual harassment prevalent in both the film industry and society as a whole.

    A very public groundswell of support for the movement started after initial reports of sexual harassment came out against megaproducer Harvey Weinstein last year. Since then, more and more women and victims of sexual assault are coming forward and being heard after decades of an institutional culture that allowed sexual assault and discrimination to flourish. In addition to accusations against numerous prominent figures in the media, politics, and elsewhere, additional gender inequalities are also being placed front and center — including a sizable gender wage gap and the disproportionately small number of women represented both in Hollywood and political positions of power.

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    Tarana Burke and Michelle Williams

    After #MeToo made clear just how many women are affected by these injustices, Time’s Up was started to take specific actions to work towards finally reversing this trend. Along with the call for women to wear black on the Golden Globes red carpet, Time’s Up is advocating for laws that will punish businesses tolerating harassment, working to balance gender parity in the industry, and starting a legal defense fund to support lower-income women seeking justice for sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.

    The Red Carpet at this year's Golden Globes

    The Red Carpet at this year’s Golden Globes
    (Getty)

    Wearing black wasn’t a fashion statement. It quickly became apparent to everyone watching the televised Golden Globes on Jan. 7 that the conversation and tone of the night would be dominated by a cause too important to be sidelined, even in the height of Hollywood’s yearly awards season. Several individual moments stuck out from the night that revealed just how deeply both gender inequality and the urgency to correct it run in the entertainment industry’s most powerful circles. Some of these moments include:

    • Talk show host and this year’s emcee Seth Meyers delivered a straightforward opening monologue in support of Time’s Up and the women of Hollywood, while also acknowledging that as a straight white man, his voice wasn’t the most important in the room.
    • While live during an E! Network red carpet interview, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing pointed out that E! was also guilty of a significant wage gap between men and women.
    • When presenting the Best Director award, Natalie Portman made sure to add in the short but poignant adjective “all-male” before listing this year’s nominees. This is especially noteworthy considering Greta Gerwig — who wasn’t nominated — directed the evening’s Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) award winner, “Lady Bird.” (Gerwig was nominated for Best Screenplay, however, and the film picked up two acting nominations and a Best Actress win for Saoirse Ronan.)

     

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    Natalie Portman and Ron Howard

    • Many women invited social activists as their guests to the ceremony, including #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, eschewing the typical tradition of bringing a significant other or relative — which has sparked its own controversy:
    • In addition to wearing black, many of the attendees and presenters displayed Time’s Up pins in support of the movement.
    • The HBO drama “Big Little Lies” dominated the television categories with a cast of mostly women playing complex female characters with nuanced storylines — something that shouldn’t be all that rare, but sadly is.
    • Entertainment icon and living legend Oprah Winfrey was presented with the Cecil B. DeMille Award — the Globes’ version of a Lifetime Achievement Award — becoming the first woman of color to receive the honor. Winfrey’s acceptance speech roused the room and was a powerful moment in a night of powerful moments, sparking a flurry of trending hashtags and fan speculation about a 2020 presidential run. Winfrey was clearly aware of her platform and influence and focused many of her words on speaking truth to power, the vital importance of a free press, and the significant role diverse role models play for children growing up in a world dominated by faces that do not resemble their own. As an example, she used her own personal experience seeing Sidney Poitier win the Academy Award for “Lillies of the Field.”

     

    These are just some specific instances of a much broader mood and drive dominating the culture right now. As an institution that prepares students for careers in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, the New York Film Academy is especially receptive to Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement. Many of the Golden Globes viewers — and even some nominees, like Issa Rae — were students, alumni, and faculty members.

    In 2013, the New York Film Academy researched gender inequality in the film industry and presented its data with an infographic that plainly showed just how serious the problem is. In the intervening years since that infographic was first published, gender inequality has not improved in the film industry. In 2017, Forbes released their annual list of highest-paid actors and actresses. The top 14 were all men, with Emma Stone ranked as the highest-paid actress at #15. A 2016 study found that women — roughly half the population — comprised only 28.7% of all speaking roles in films. Additionally, only 18% of films represented a balanced cast (half the speaking characters being female).

    The New York Film Academy prides itself on its diverse body of students, encouraging artists from any number of backgrounds to collaborate and bring together their distinct, personal visions in order to create even stronger, more meaningful stories. Indeed, in 2017 more than half of NYFA’s students were women — a hopeful sign of the industry’s future.

    It goes without saying that there is still a lot of work to be done, and a lot of changes that need to be made to both the entertainment industry and the contemporary culture it inhabits. As Oprah Winfrey said in her acceptance speech, telling stories and speaking truth to power is one important way to help bring about these changes. The New York Film Academy encourages those who were previously afraid to use their voice to tell their stories, and to be loud as possible — the time is now.

    • "Big Little Lies" at the Golden Globes

      “Big Little Lies” at the Golden Globes (Photo by @Ramona_Rosales)

    January 10, 2018 • Entertainment News • Views: 540

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

    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.

    December 22, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1932

  • NYFA Gold Coast Advanced Diploma April ’17 Students Hold Graduation Showcase

    The April ’17 Graduates with Acting Coordinator Louise Lee Mei

    On November 9th, the New York Film Academy Gold Coast campus held its Advanced April ’17 Actors End of Year Showcase and Graduation. Graduating students were joined by family and friends at Event Cinemas at Pacific Fair to celebrate their achievements and the body of work they accomplished throughout the year.

    New York Film Academy Australia delivers the nationally recognized Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media, with chosen coursework focused on the craft and business of acting for film. Students who enroll with the program commit a tremendous amount of time and effort, which paid off handsomely with a much-anticipated screening at the April ’17 graduation.

    Acting Coordinator, Louise Lee Mei, opened the event by welcoming guests and congratulating the four graduating students: Christopher Gillham, Esther Crane, Marc Johnson and Sherry Kawecki.

    “The Advanced April Actors are a group of very hard workers who we are extremely proud of,” said Mei. “We are excited to present these great actors to the industry.”

    The screening included Acting for Film scenes and the group’s pilot episode “Eternity”, concerning a jilted lover turning her hand to black magic and threatening the delicate balance between good and evil.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates our NYFA Gold Coast Advanced April ’17 Actors!

     

    November 14, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 857

  • NYFA Los Angeles Celebrates it’s Fall 2017 Graduates

    On Saturday, September 23rd, 2017, the New York Film Academy congratulated another graduating class as they crossed into the next stage of their professional careers. Three ceremonies were held throughout the day to accommodate the more than two hundred students who have now completed their education at NYFA.

    Many students spent the previous day at Warner Brother’s Studios screening their final films on the backlot. The occasion is always an emotional one. Warner Brothers is a Hollywood institution that has been home to some of the greatest names and films in the entertainment industry.

    Families were able to gather for photos before the ceremony began. A NYFA backdrop had everyone looking red carpet ready. When it was time for parents to take their seats, students formed neat rows as they filed into the building.

    This year’s commencement speakers ranged from a Hollywood star, a casting director who worked closely with Stephen Spielberg, and a producer/writer for several of the greatest television shows ever made. Each speaker had a copious amount of advice to give to the graduates. A common theme to all the speeches was that the students should learn from the speaker’s own mistakes so they could do even better in their own careers.

    New York Film Academy | Acting School Graduation

    The first speaker to grace the stage was Valorie Massalas, casting director extraordinaire. Her credits include “Indiana Jones,” “Chaplin,” “Total Recall,” “Alive,” “Honeymoon in Vegas,” “Gods and Monsters,” and “Back to the Future II” and III. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on “Annie.” She is a new inductee into the Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

    Massalas spoke directly to the actors about how the industry has changed since she began her career. The most disturbing change to Massalas is the rise of the social media actor. These are Hollywood hopefuls who have never taken an acting class but have 20 thousand or more followers, and they are being cast in major motion pictures because the heads of studios believe they can put audience members into seats.

    “I’m sharing that with you because it’s disturbing to me that you spend all your time training like you’ve done, with these beautiful people, honing your craft, but if you don’t have social media numbers you could lose a job to somebody who does,” Massalas said. “It’s important for you to be aware of that because it’s just part of our world today. It’s not going to go away, In fact, it’s going to get worse.”

    It wasn’t all bad news. Certainly, some of the changes would be favorable for the next generation chosen to run Hollywood. Social media is also giving other creatives access to the tight-knit entertainment community. “When I was first starting out you didn’t have the kind of access that you have today with social media,” Massalas said.

    “The most important thing you must always remember is that you are the president of your own company. You have to be prepared to run your business like the president of a company. If you’re not doing that, you’re failing your career because nobody is going to run your business better than you.” Massalas warned students.

    New York Film Academy | Film School Graduation

    The second commencement speaker to take the stage was actor Joshua Helman. Helman’s credits include some of the biggest action films of the last ten years including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Jack Reacher.” He’s also been prolific in television starring in HBO’s “The Pacific,” the mini-series “Flesh and Bone,” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Wayward Pines.”

    Throughout Helman’s hilarious speech, he blended solid life advice with anecdotes from his time getting started in the industry. He began with a bit of advice he had learned from a teacher. “When I was in acting school, a singing teacher told me that the most valuable things an entertainer has to offer the audience are vulnerability and generosity. And not only have I never forgotten that, but I found it to be true.” He concluded this thought saying, “Come back to vulnerability and generosity. It will never be wrong. Find the stuff that challenges you, the truth that scares you, and offer it up to the world with joy.”

    Helman also wanted to prepare students for the reality of how long it can take to start a career. “You have to prove yourself and that can suck. It means working a day job, it means losing sleep, and it means facing long stretches of seemingly infinite time when you feel like you are going nowhere. That is par for the course. Each of you, if you’re not an insane person, is going to want to give up at some point…”

    But, Helman amended, there’s a way to survive the hard years. “You can make peace with it if you never forget that you are doing it in order to do the job that you love and that (entertainment) is your real job.”

    New York Film Academy | Producing School Graduation

    The final speaker of the night was Cherie Steinkellner. She is perhaps best known for producing the multi-award winning television show, “Cheers.” She also wrote for such groundbreaking shows as “The Jeffersons” and “Who’s the Boss?” Finally, she wrote for and produced the Disney animated series and feature film, “Teacher’s Pet” starring Nathan Lane.

    Steinkellner takes issue with the adage, “Those who can’t-do, teach.” “I don’t believe that to be true,” she said. “I think those who can’t-do, learn. Which is to say, if you find yourself to be an irresistible force up against an immovable object, if you find that you can’t achieve something, instead of fighting the same darn thing, consider that the point isn’t to step over that obstacle. Maybe the point of the lesson is: What can I learn from this?”

    With that thought in mind, Steinkellner also wanted to make sure students didn’t think that graduating meant their best days were behind them. She closed out her speech stating,

    “When I was in school, in the seventies, people would say to me these are the best years of your life. I hated that. School is short and life is long. You will never forget the years that you have spent here at the New York Film Academy. I haven’t forgotten the years that I spent in college. Please, trust this elder. The good stuff is all ahead of you. Let’s see what you make. Let’s see what you do. Let’s see your ‘weird.’ Congratulations on your graduation and welcome my friends to the best years of your life.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Joshua Helman, Valorie Massalas, and Cherie Steinkellner for taking the time to speak with our students. We’d also like to congratulate all of our incredible students on their graduation. We hope to see you back here soon, telling the next generation your success story.

    MFA in Acting:

    Vicente Almuna Morales

    Ainur Rauilyevna

    Alejandra Gonzalez

    Vincson Green II

    Haoran Li

    Elizabeth Otaola Cortina

    Nanli Wang

    Chaoyue Zhao

     

    BFA in Acting:

    Melissa Abugattas Lozada

    Reya Al-Jaroudy

    Ratnavali Anderson

    Ira Calilung

    Whitney Cheng

    Abbilyn Chuha

    Jennifer Anne Cipolla

    Briana Davis

    Joseph Ekstrom

    Michael Furlough

    Emmanouil Giamas

    Maria Manuela Gomez

    Anes Hasi

    Christian Elijah Leighty

    Nina Madzirov

    Phillip McNair

    Bethany Rhiannon Daisy Milner

    Rebecca Momo

    Alessio Mongardi

    Analisa Moreno

    Vanessa Rene Nuevo

    Chunxiao Ouyang

    Trinity Page

    Fernando Peralta

    Zachary Thomas Perry

    Raven Ramos

    Maurice Roberson II

    Simran Sangian

    Billy Xiong

    Ming Jie Yang

     

    AFA in Acting:

    Tia Blackwill

    Corinna Camero

    Melissa Celikovic

    Jassen Charron

    Gregory James Drake

    Kurt Alexander Eberle

    Andre Forrest

    Aaliyah Jones

    Wadley Sterlin

    Travis Nevin Tendler

    Robert Tevlin

    Danielle Torck

     

    MFA in Producing:

    Mazen Aleqbali

     

    BFA in Producing:

    Ruddy Cano Hernandez

    Nyshon Ferrell

    Carlos Gonzalez

    Chor Kei Hui

    Brandon William McCarthy

    Thandiwe Mlauli

    Gilma Edith Montecer Lore

    Sagar Patel

    Angel J. Pitre

    Sim Sagiroglu

    Peijun Zou

     

    AFA in Producing:

    Mengying Sun

     

    MFA in Photography:

    Amal Alahdal

    Dania Saud Altalhi

    Pamela Garcia-Aguirre

     

    BFA in Photography:

    Rushank Anil Agrawal

    Brenda Cantu

    Tanya Gawdi

    Kingi Kingibe

    Ziomara Ramirez

    Wen Tao Tu

     

    MFA in Documentary:

    Sultan Sulaiman Aljurays

    Camilla Elisabeth Borel Rinkes

    Amira Hamour

    Ashley Danielle Harris

    Yuan Li

    Kristin Lydsdottir

    Huda Abdulsalam Moraidikha

    Maria Carolina Sosa Andres

    Guangli Zhu

     

    MFA in Cinematography:

    Jhonny Fabian Garcia Sarmiento

    Rafael O. Rivera

    Maria Sevilla

    Manuel Velasquez Isaza

     

    MFA in Film:

    Joud AlAmri

    Gerald Albitre

    Mahfouz Maeid M. Alzahrani

    Almaz Amandossov

    Dias Azimzhanov

    Yang Bai

    Alma Baimuratova

    Rushikesh Bhadane

    Beatriz Cabrera Figuerez

    Xiaoyue Cao

    Yue Chen

    Moataz Ezzat Elsayed Gamal Elbahaey

    Boise Badilla Esquerra

    Efrain Santiago Fierro

    Anuja Ganpule-Sheorey

    Zesheng Gao

    Mariia Gerasymiuk

    Di Hang

    Amber A. Harris

    Jacob Houghton

    Oboatarhe Ikuku

    Runjie Ji

    Annu Kapil

    Gabriela Ledesma

    Jian Li

    Yitong Li

    Yixin Liang

    Gengru Liu

    Zichen Liu

    Michael Louka

    Kendra McDonald

    Rachel Gebrael Meguerdijian

    Maria Mitkovskaya

    Sonakshi Mittal

    Aditya Rajendra Mohite

    Amanda Molefe

    Rima Mori

    Dina Najialdaies

    Vibhav Vinayak Nayak

    Kevin Nwankwor

    Anita Name Dos Santos

    Hiroki Ohsawa

    Derek Parker

    Ana Camila Parra Bernal

    Yuntong Peng

    Rene Rodriguez

    Francia Romero

    Guoqiang Sheng

    Yu Sheng

    Savannah Sivert

    Jourdain Antoine Smith

    Julien Supplice

    Mohitha Vankima

    Shashank Narendra Varma

    Chenyi Wang

    Tixiao Wang

    Zheng Wang

    Erxuan Wu

    Yuzuan Wu

    Lijun Yang

    Meng Yu

    Xiankai Zhang

    Xiaoxiao Zhang

    Xiwen Zhang

    Rui Zhu

    Xuerong Zhu

     

    AFA in Film:

    James Bonfiglio

    Peter Farquhar

    Casey Swing

    Zhen Wang

     

    MFA in Screenwriting:

    Jean-Baptiste Hakim

    Keaton Kaplan

    Kobus Louw

    Aida Marie-Louise Noujaim

     

    MA in Screenwriting:

    Kwang Jin Chai

    Rosa Falu-Carrion

    Samuel Gonzalez Jr.

    Roberto Tapia

     

    BFA in Screenwriting:

    Nick Davis

    Nawaf al Hoshani

    Felix Martinez Autin

     

    MFA in Game Design:

    May Alotaibi

     

    BFA in Game Design:

    Cody Fowler

    Min Han

    Alecksandar Jackowicz

    Mario Monaco

     

    MA in Film:

    Mina Abrahim

    Vedang Bhatt

    Dhriti Borah

    Julian Andres Bueno Sanchez

    Maurice Cassidy

    Jaya Prasad Chitturi

    Xingyue Dai

    Abdallah ElDaly

    Jiawei Gao

    Giunel Ismaiylova

    Abebowale Johnson

    Melissa Johnson

    Vicken Joulfayan

    Chenyang Li

    Mengke Li

    Xi Lin

    Yilin Liu

    Haixiao Lu

    Hin Lam Allan Ng

    Yu Qiu

    Srikanth Navarathna Raju

    Jose Mario Salas Boza

    Kongpob Sangsanga

    Elizabeth Soto-Lara

    Sukrut Shirish Teni

    Jianyu Wang

    Yu Wang

    Jiaxing Wu

    Sipei Wu

    Xueqing Wu

    Siqi Xiao

    Qingjing Yan

    Zain Zaman

    Chen Zhang

    Yiyun Zhang

    Yang Zhou

     

    BFAin Film:

    Ryan Adams

    Sara Ait Benabdallah

    Fawaz Saleh Al-Batati

    Basil Alamri

    Abdullah Saleh Alawaji

    Hani Alqattan

    Ayman Ahmed Alzahrani

    Jascha Bellaiche

    Rolf Niklas Martin Berggren

    Ambre-India Bourdon

    Tammy Cook

    Jose Guilherme Correia Jr.

    Antonio Gassan Darwiche

    Rumena Dinevska

    Gabriel Erwin

    Cirenia Raquel Escobedo Esquivel

    Jiaqing Ge

    Daniel Ivan Gonzalez Ramirez

    Oliver Granö

    Kartikye Gupta

    Akira Hayakawa

    Anton Hermawan

    Nuria Stella Hernandez

    Dongyan Jiang

    Yudi Jiang

    Autumn Joiner

    Joanna Krawczyk

    Henrique Kraychete Freire

    Gabriel Legua

    Xuejiao Liu

    Zhuangzi Liu

    Ana Catalina Loret de Mola

    Mario Mazzarella

    Eric Milzarski

    Nikola Nikolovski

    Varunn Pandya

    Konstantinos Pateronis

    Vladislav Petrov

    Celeste Pillay

    Katherine Pinkston

    Albert Theodore Pranoto

    Anastasia Reinhard

    Alejandro Rojas Melo

    Brooke Schulte

    Richard Selvi

    Denis Semikin

    Muhamad Ashram Shahrivar

    Shiyi Shao

    Jiajin Song

    Michael Tharp

    Hary Johann Tuukkanen Itriago

    Santos Verdia-Cross

    Tiange Wei

    Assem Yedgey

  • NYFA Acting for Film Alumna Samantha Hamadeh Hosts Comedy Central Arabia’s “Ridiculousness Arabia”

    In 2010 Samantha Hamadeh graduated from the One Year Acting Program at New York Film Academy. Her 3.9 GPA should have tipped everyone off that she was headed toward great things. In just a few years Hamadeh was on Comedy Central co-hosting one of their most popular shows. Hamadeh sat down with NYFA Correspondent Joelle Smith, to talk about where it all began and how NYFA helped her to get where she is now.

    NYFA: When did you fall in love with acting?

    Hamadeh: I was in 1st or 2nd grade. My friend and I used to hand out little notes to people in the class to come watch our plays on the playground. There was a tree ring made of cement. That was our stage.

    NYFA: What were some challenges you faced in your craft before coming to NYFA?

    Hamadeh: Although I’m a firm believer that people are born with a talent, I still thought that there was so much that I needed to learn about myself in order to be able to understand and portray different characters. Also, I took 3 years off from the theater because I was getting a degree at university. I was nervous about getting back into the world of acting.

    NYFA: How did NYFA help you move through these challenges?

    Hamadeh: I had some of the best teachers and mentors. From Kelly Hughes to Caitlin Muelder, Scott Ferrara, Valorie Hubbard, and Anthony Montes – they were all so supportive and truly believed in me. In class, I was able to work on my technique while also developing new skills.

    NYFA: What is your best memory from NYFA?

    Hamadeh: My dream of going to film school came true! The entire experience was life changing. I also got to meet some of the most amazing and talented students who I look up to, especially Eliza Delacourt and Maria Carvalho, who are now family to me. Some of the best years of my life were in Los Angeles, both on and off campus.

    NYFA: Tell us about your show, “Ridiculousness Arabia.”

    Hamadeh: Ridiculousness is an American comedy clip show, which presents viral videos. Comedy Central Arabia got the rights and I got to co-host the Arabic version – “Ridiculousness Arabia.”

    Samantha Hamadeh | NYFA Alumni Spotlight

    NYFA: How did you become involved with the project?

    Hamadeh: I work in marketing and was at a meeting with Comedy Central because they were looking to film their stand up comedy show at my brother’s venue, Stereo Arcade in Dubai. The CC team mentioned they were also working on Ridiculousness and I got excited because I love the US version. The producer asked if I was interested in co-hosting. Obviously, I said yes.

    NYFA: What was your goal with the project?

    Hamadeh: It was pure improv so we didn’t have much time to rehearse and we filmed two to three episodes a day over five to six days. My goal was to stay focused and enjoy filming every episode. There’s no character work. What you see on tv is who I am in person.

    NYFA: What’s been the most rewarding part of being involved with “Ridiculousness Arabia?”

    Hamadeh: Being part of a production like this was a dream come true! And I enjoyed every single minute of it because I got to work with really talented guys; Mohanad, the host and Khaled, the co-host.

    NYFA: What advice do you have for an aspiring host?

    Hamadeh: You’re going to hear a lot of no’s before you get a yes. It’s hard to be patient, I know, but when the right opportunity comes along you’re going to be happy that you were.

    NYFA: Where and when can people watch your show? 

    Hamadeh: Every Sunday night on Comedy Central Arabia.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Samantha Hamadeh for taking the time to speak with us.

     

     

    August 18, 2017 • Acting, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1287

  • NYFA’s Ragga Thordarson Continues to Garner International Recognition

    NYFA’s Ragga Thordarson continues to garner international recognition, this time in her native country of Iceland. Interviewed by Morgunblaðið, one Iceland’s leading papers, Ragga spoke of her success in the film and television industry as a producer, director, and consultant.

    The article went on to discuss her role within the New York Film Academy and the importance of the inclusive, diverse environment NYFA fosters.

    You can find the original article here. An English version can be found below.

    “The World of Film is International”

    Ragnhildur Magnúsdóttir Thordarson, or Ragga, as she is called, lives in Los Angeles where she works at the prestigious New York Film Academy. Ragga has produced and participated in a number of creative and film projects both overseas and here at home in Iceland and was among other things, a consultant to the team behind “The Simpsons” on the Simpsons’ Iceland episode.

    Ragga Thordarson | New York Film Academy

    “This started when I graduated with a Master’s degree in Producing For Film and Television  from New York Film Academy in March 2012. I left Iceland in 2010 and graduated two years later,” says Ragga, who has done well in recent years in Los Angeles, California, USA, as a Producer. The projects include short films that have been featured at various film festivals.

    In 2012, Filmbreak named Ragga Best Producer for one such project. Her short sketch video was named Carlos & Brandi 2 and was a follow-up to the first Carlos and Brandi, based on short episodes of the Icelandic-American couple created by Ragga. She also wrote and directed the documentary From Oakland to Iceland. Ragnhildur now works as Director of Admissions at New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, which oversees students’ applications worldwide.

    Consultant for Icelandic Simpsons

    “Before I graduated, I worked as a radio and television host (in Iceland) and as a filmmaker. So I have been producing across platforms for a considerable amount of time,” says Ragga

    “After graduating, I started working as a Producer in LA in various projects. Among other things, I worked for Reebok and was a consultant on “The Simpsons” Iceland episode. I produced and wrote content that was featured on “Funny or Die.” In fact, I was working on various types of projects. Then I started working in events for New York Film Academy. “

    Industry professionals with impressive resumes

    Ragga then began managing Q and A´s and various events at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. “We had guests coming to Warner Brothers for screenings and Q and A’s. There were people from all different jobs in entertainment and film; screenwriters and actors, for example, such as Linda Woolverton, Josh Brolin and Jonah Hill. Then there were filmmakers, even animation experts and others, some household names and others less known to the public, but industry professionals who have great bodies of work and extensive credits, sometimes behind the scenes. These people come to share their creative and industry experiences with students. This was a great job.” Ragga is raised in the United States, but is Icelandic and has spent considerable time living in Iceland as well. She and her husband have lived in Los Angeles in recent years.

    New York Film Academy is International

    The environment is international

    Ragga managed events at NYFA until she was eight months pregnant with her first child. “I had my daughter Stella three years ago, and was what in Iceland would be considered a ‘last minute mom’” says Ragga, and laughs.

    “After becoming a mom, I went to work on new projects for New York Film Academy and because I knew the school so well, I ended up working in Admissions. My job then evolved into the position I am in now. I love this school, the departments within it work well together, and  more than half of the students are international. This is a very global environment, and it’s great to be surrounded by people who are storytellers from all over the world. You hear Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and many more languages ​​daily here. It reflects in my opinion the cinema world which is far more international than I think people generally realize. “Hollywood is such a multinational place and New York Film Academy’s student body reflects that. Then filmmakers (including NYFA’s) meet at various film festivals across the world, with their common love of and passion for film. “

     

    July 31, 2017 • Academic Programs, Faculty Highlights, Film School, Filmmaking • Views: 2197

  • 5 Things We Learned From Chris Devane’s Casting Class

    Outside of the New York Film Academy, Acting Instructor, Chris Devane is a giant in the casting industry. Devane detailed his experience with large casting calls, which can include seeing over 400 people in a single day, to an hour-long casting rehearsal with a single actress. With clients like Wal-Mart and major production studios, Devane knows everything there is to know about the casting process. Most importantly, he has been able to pass that information on to acting students. Here are the top 5 lessons we took from Devane’s Casting Class.

    1. There Are a Lot of Actors Actively Seeking Work

    Devane began the class with a simple question, “How many union actors are working in the United States of America?” After letting students take a guess, Devane revealed the staggering number.

    There are 160,000 actors in the union and untold scores of hopeful eyed youngsters trying to enter the industry every day. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that the average income for those 160,000 union actors is $7,000. This includes big stars like Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana who make millions of dollars per movie.

    Devane brought up these numbers to make a point. Those that want to act had better be prepared to work for free or very little. They will need to love their craft beacuse acting is not always kind to actors.

    “The only person who can help your career is you,” Devane told his students. “Getting success is easy. Keeping it is a challenge.” Many actors come to LA from smaller cities where they have had some success. It means nothing when they get to Hollywood. “There are no failed actors. Just people who quit.”

    Casting Tips | New York Film Academy

    1. You Have to Really, Really Love Acting

    “There’s more competition in acting than any other field in the world,” Devane said. While working for free or very little upfront may be necessary, eventually, payment will be required. “Who’s paying your rent or putting gas in your car if you work for free? This is show business,” Devane warned. Deciding how much one’s work is worth can be challenging.

    This is all part of the gig. Actors typically work twelve to eighteen hour days, six days a week. This is an exhausting and demanding schedule. All the while, actors are being judged. They’re judged for their looks, they are judged for their talent, and they are even judged for their behavior. This scrutiny tends to get the better of most people.

    Self-promotion is of the utmost importance. There are more opportunities to be seen with YouTube and other social media platforms but there’s also a bigger opportunity to fail. A good casting director will not place an actor in a role for which they are not prepared. But the advent of casting based on followers has a lot of young talent scrambling to put out any work they have in hopes of gaining a following.

    Devane suggests putting only polished work out for consumption. Start developing a style and a voice now. Don’t rely on followers. They do not denote talent. Do solid work, help others in developing their work, and promote the finished projects.

    1. Casting Has Nothing to Do with Talent

    When Devane revealed this information there was tangible hitch within the audience. Talent, fairy tales would have you believe, is the most important aspect in getting started in the entertainment industry. How else can someone with little experience get his or her start?

    Devane says the most important thing an actor should be able to do is be themselves on camera. It is the job of a casting agent to find the best person for the role and not the best actor in the world. So, if an actor is relaxed and natural on camera than they can be cast in something.

    Most people who have difficulty getting cast believe it’s something they have done wrong. According to Devane most of these people are missing a personality. Many balked at this statement because it can be rather difficult information to process. Some take it as an insult. But nothing could be further from the truth.

    The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is a problem. Devane suggests actively listening to get more parts. Listen to the partner in the scene. Don’t just wait for the next line. Also, listen to the casting director. If one is asked to try the line a different way, you should really think about how that note changes the reading. Being able to take direction makes any actor more desirable.

    1. Reputation Travels Faster than any Human

    Reputations cannot be bought or erased. They are earned through the most precious non-renewable source, time. With this in mind, Devane advised students to guard and protect their reputations with everything they have.

    “The person who gets cast is the one who can work with the director.” Being a diva on set or overstepping boundaries will have an actor on the outs faster than they can sign a contract. Once a job is booked, it’s important to know on-set rules so as not to become a liability. “If you hear ‘points’ on set you need to know what that means and act accordingly,” Devane told students.

    Don’t turn down work. “Look, sometimes being picky can be beneficial, but when someone brings you a job turning it down can look ungrateful at best and disrespectful at worst.” When auditioning for a role make sure the shoot days do not conflict with any other projects or personal appointments. If there’s a potential for conflict mention it at the start of the audition.

    Be on time. Every minute of production can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Crew call is often much earlier and much later than an actor’s call time. There is zero excuse for holding up a production and everyone will remember who caused that hold up.

    1. There is No Way to Tell Why You Did Not Get Cast

    Devane let students in on a secret that most professional working actors do not know. He told them that not only does talent not matter but there are a million little reasons behind why an individual does get cast. “Get rid of the feeling of I could have done better.”

    Sometimes one individual will pair better with an actor that has already been cast. Other times a director might have a working relationship with an actor. Sometimes a client will change their mind and want a different look than they originally set out to cast. It could be that there was just a better actor in the room that day.

    It is important to remember that, “You’re going to be frustrated throughout your entire career. Be positive and confident in your ability, skills, and knowledge. It’s the only thing to separate you from the 180 other people auditioning for the role.”

    It’s heartbreaking to get rejection after rejection but again, acting is not for the faint of heart. It requires great passion and equally as much patience and keep in mind that somewhere out there is the perfect role.

    Devane left students with this thought, “The harder you work, the more fortune you’ll have.” Do not wait to be chosen. Be your own biggest advocate.

    July 27, 2017 • Acting • Views: 1051

  • NYFA: In Celebration of International Education Week (November 14-18)

    For those of us deeply engaged in of the field of international education, last week was analogous to the film industry’s Academy Awards week. This year’s International Education Week (IEW) highlighted the international education community’s efforts to increase the number of students and scholars that cross borders worldwide and, with exuberance, showcased the scores of success stories pertaining to this global exchange of knowledge. The week was also full of discussions and musings about possible changes to the sector that may occur when the new administration begins working in Washington, DC in six weeks.

    International education holds an important place here at the New York Film Academy (NYFA), where more than 50% of the School’s enrollment is international; tens of thousands of visual and performing artists from nearly 120 countries have studied at NYFA since its founding 25 years ago, including dozens of Fulbright Foreign Students.

    For the 2nd year in a row, NYFA is proud to be ranked in the top 5 ‘SPECIAL FOCUS INSTITUTIONS’ that host international students, according to the Open Doors Report, an annual report issued by the Institute of International Education (IIE) that was released last week by IIE and the U.S. Department of State. In the 2015-2016 academic year NYFA hosted 1,492 foreign students in the College’s degree programs, and also welcomed nearly 2,000 additional international students to non-degree and short-term programs that were not counted in the Open Doors Report data.

    On the outgoing side of international education, for two decades NYFA has offered a wide range of study abroad programs at four permanent international locations (Paris, France; Florence, Italy; Gold Coast, Australia; and Sydney, Australia), as well as at many satellite locations, including Kyoto, Japan; Beijing, China; and Amsterdam, Netherlands.

    This year, NYFA made great strides in increasing study abroad opportunities by launching unique faculty led international ‘excursion’ programs, which included NYFA trips for students in the Photography and Documentary Filmmaking Departments. A total of 73 students traveled to Belize, Cyprus, and the Dominican Republic to experience unique aspects of these cultures as well as witness and develop a better awareness of important and critical events currently happening in the countries. This was part of NYFA’s commitment to the Generation Study Abroad Initiative — an undertaking to increase the number of U.S. students studying abroad.

    The New York Film Academy highlighted its study abroad opportunities and accomplishments during the national celebration of International Education Week by hosting a social media contest: NYFA students and alumni had the opportunity to submit photographic representations of what “home” means to them via Facebook or Instagram by including the hashtag #NYFAInternational and tagging @NewYorkFilmAcademy. This contest was open to all current NYFA students (nearly 8,500) from the U.S. campuses in New York, Los Angeles, and South Beach, Florida, as well as students studying at all of our locations abroad in Florence, Italy; Paris, France; and Gold Coast and Sydney, Australia. The winner was announced this past Saturday and the image can be seen here.

    Michael Young, President of NYFA, recently stated, “the power of storytelling is not owned by any one nation, it is an art form the entire world needs in times of peace and stability, and even more so during chaos and uncertainty. Thanks to the most powerful form of communication that exists, we expect our students to be the voices that will be heard through the noise.”

    Like making lemonade from lemons, visual and performing artists have the opportunity to make lovely music — i.e. films, photographs, and performances — from all of the noise now out there.

    November 23, 2016 • Community Highlights • Views: 2900

  • Northern Exposure Star Janine Turner Video Chats with NYFA Students on Acting and Activism

    On November 18th, acting students from the New York Film Academy Los Angeles were virtually visited by Northern Exposure star Janine Turner to discuss her career as an actress and activist.

    Growing up in Texas, Turner started modeling at a young age. At fifteen she moved to New York City on her own dime to become the youngest model at Wilhelmina Modeling Agency.  By seventeen she progressed to acting in Hollywood.

    janine turner

    After initial damsel in distress characters on shows like A-Team, Dallas, and Knight Rider, Turner cut her hair and studied the craft of acting at the Actor’s Studio. “I made lifelong friends with the people from acting class,” she remarked fondly.

    Turner persevered through career lulls because of her personal faith, passion for the industry and drive to succeed. With a broken engagement and eight dollars in her bank account, Turner was on the verge of giving up acting for good. After getting lost trying to run away from Manhattan, she returned to the city to audition for a television pilot. With that audition, she landed the role of Maggie O’Connell on the much beloved ensemble series Northern Exposure.

    She explained her acting process to students, following the sensory method. Turner went to the executive producers to learn more about Maggie. With each script she would call her acting coach, go over her scenes and make specific choices for her character. On set, she balanced maintaining her sensory emotive state for the character and remaining her friendly self with the cast and crew. When it comes to the notes from multiple directors on a season, Turner advised, “Listen and be open-minded, but stay true to the character—take what you like and leave the rest.”

    nyfa class

    Janine Turner has been in notable movies like Cliffhanger with Sylvester Stallone, Dr. T and the Women and hit shows like Friday Night Lights. Her current passion is towards activism. “Thespians are great humanitarians; it’s a wonderful way to feed the soul,” Turner notes. She launched and co-chairs the Constituting America foundation. It’s mission is to educate America’s youth about the importance of the United States Constitution, and encourages them to write and direct short films, PSA, and songs about the founding document and how it has shaped and protects our civil liberties.

    We thank Janine Turner for taking time to speak with us and wish her great success with her career and foundation.

    November 20, 2015 • Acting, Community Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 2754

  • Al Pacino and ‘Insurgent’ Win Box-Office

     

    pacinoInsurgent, the second entry in the Divergent series, topped last weekend’s box office, earning over $54 million in its debut release. Starring Shailene Woodley, the films are adaptations of the popular YA dystopian series, similar to The Hunger Games’ cross-media success. Earning approximately half its budget in its first weekend, Insurgent is on track to make back its money and then some, although its opening hasn’t grown much from Divergent’s initial numbers, suggesting the audience hasn’t expanded as much as its studio would like.

    Cinderella, Disney’s live-action princess epic, performed well with $34 million in its second week, surpassing its $95 million budget with a total $122 million gross. Less successful was The Gunman, a Sean Penn action vehicle many have compared to Liam Neeson’s original foray into the genre. Where Neeson found huge success and a series of sequels and similarly-styled movies, Penn’s film looks dead in the water and may be a failed experiment for the actor. Ironically, the Liam Neeson action film currently out, Run All Night, which has also been underperforming, beat out newcomer The Gunman for the third spot in the weekend’s box office charts.

    While Al Pacino’s indie film Danny Collins hasn’t made nearly as much money as the current box office champs, it has made the most per theater, the metric most independent films in limited release use as a measure of financial success. It edged out Insurgent, earning $73,000 in only five theaters, for an average of $14,640 per theater. Danny Collins is a dramedy about an aging rocker reevaluating his life and family, with an all-star cast including Christopher Plummer, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, and Melissa Benoist. Al Pacino, who recently spoke at the New York Film Academy about acting and Hollywood, stars as Collins.

    The box-office top ten is listed below:

    Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 2.52.03 PM

    March 23, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 3260