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  • Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Dishani Chakraborty

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Dishani Chakraborty is ready to make her mark on the Bollywood scene. The young actress grew up in India, first in Coimbatore and then Mumbai, before moving to Los Angeles to study acting. Dishani first took the NYFA 4-week Acting for Film workshop before moving on to the 1-year Acting for Film conservatory at our Burbank-based campus.dishani chakraborty

    Since then, Dishani has steadily been increasing her skills as an actress as well as her presence online. When she returns home, she plans to hit the ground running with a career in acting that will follow in the footsteps of her brothers and her father, noted and award-winning Bollywood star Mithun Chakraborty (Disco Dancer, Agneepath, Suraksha). Indeed, buzz around her is already growing—she recently appeared in a photo story for Times of India.

    New York Film Academy recently spoke with Dishani Chakraborty about her favorite classes at NYFA, her artistic family, and what influences and inspires her as an actress:

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

    Dishani Chakraborty (DC): I grew up in a small city in the south of India called Coimbatore. I lived there with my three older brothers and parents for about nine years until we moved to Mumbai. 

    Growing up in a household full of artists, I knew when I was really little that I wanted to be an actor. A normal day in my house consisted of my family talking about movies, both Hollywood and Bollywood. My siblings and I would watch at least one movie a day after school. I was so influenced by Western culture because of the number of movies and TV shows I watched and the music I listened to. 

    I knew that I wanted to go abroad to learn the craft of filmmaking and acting once I finished high school. And what better place to learn than Hollywood itself. That’s how New York Film Academy came in the picture. I did a short, 4-week Acting workshop back in 2016 at the Los Angeles campus and I absolutely fell in love with it. It was the best intensive course I had ever taken. I was blessed to have incredible teachers. So I decided to come back and do a 1-year Acting conservatory to gain more knowledge and experience before I started my journey in Bollywood.

    dishani chakrabortyNYFA: What attracted you to learning the craft of acting?

    DC: I think I was lucky because I had the access to learn the craft of acting from a very early age thanks to my father being an actor. I remember going on his film sets and being astonished by every little aspect. But for me, the thing that excites me the most about an actor’s job is that their learning process never ends. As an actor, you really never stop growing or learning. There’s so much you can prepare for, discover and explore. As actors, we’re lucky that we can choose to be versatile by doing one job.

    NYFA: What inspires you as an actor?

    DC: Growing up, I saw a lot of Natalie Portman’s work—I felt very much like her. Because I’m a petite person with a baby face and even though I’m over 18, I’ve looked 15 for quite a long time. Natalie Portman has been a big influence on me as an actor. Watching her versatility from doing something like Léon: The Professional to Star Wars to one of my favorite movies of her, Closer. I hope to get roles with that kind of range, whether I work in Bollywood or Hollywood.

    NYFA: Your family has a great deal of experience in the entertainment industry. How do you differentiate yourself from the work they’ve done?

    DC: I’m a firm believer in there’s no “recipe for success.” Everybody’s journey is completely different. I do feel blessed because I’ve learned a lot of things about “showbiz” from my family and it certainly gives me a boost, but my father has raised my brothers and me to be hard workers, and most of all to work our way to get things.dishani chakraborty

    And I think living in LA and working here has given me a great dose of experience and independence, and I think that will help me a lot when I start working in Bollywood. I want to achieve things through my talent and hard work.

    NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you find yourself using often?

    DC: My favorite class in NYFA was Technique & Scene Study. I can say hands down that my teacher, Mr. Dig Wayne was by far the most excellent teacher I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough to also have him when I did the 4-week program in 2016. When I started NYFA, I was very shy and self-conscious. He taught us the craft of method acting and I think his class helped me overcome so many of my inhibitions. 

    I still remember my first class with him and he made us do an exercise where we closed our eyes and he told us to hear our mothers calling our name. It was the biggest triggering point for me. And he told me to open my eyes and start my scene right then and there with those emotions. I felt so authentic and organic. His method was discovering as much information as possible for your character. Their backstory, their body language, even how you think they’d sound like. I think that’s been such an important take away for character build up.

    NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

    DC: Like I mentioned before, as actors, we never really stop learning and growing. Take your time and learn. Take notes! I still to this date go back to my notebook for an audition or a shoot to read notes that I’d made while I was in school. 

    Don’t be afraid to be first in class to go up on stage. Being a shy kid, I always felt like my heart would sink into my stomach every time I thought of going first. But believe me when I say, it’s SUCH a confidence boost when you do. 

    dishani chakrabortyAnd for students starting out, I would recommend creating your own content as well. Write! I know it’s easier said than done and the first draft possibly will be trash and will suck. However, don’t be discouraged—the process of recognizing that will only make you better at it. 

    Lastly, try to be in front of the camera as much as possible. As actors, we’re born to critique ourselves. But the positive side on that is you’ll discover so much about yourself when you watch yourself. And HAVE FUN!! Because these are going to be the best days of your lives.


    New York Film Academy thanks Acting for Film alum Dishani Chakraborty for taking the time to thoughtfully answer our questions and share her experiences with the NYFA Community! 

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    June 19, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 434

  • South African New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Meet Up at Inaugural Events

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    This May, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted inaugural South African NYFA alumni events in Johannesburg and Cape Town. This was a fantastic opportunity for NYFA’s South African alumni to connect and expand their network. South Africa Alumni Event

    Blake Babbitt, NYFA Associate Director of Outreach, has been traveling to South Africa for that past 7 years on behalf of the school, and was very delighted to see a true community of New York Film Academy artists coming together in their home country. 

    “There is a growing entertainment industry here in South Africa,” says Babbitt. “Ultimately we want our graduates to use the techniques and knowledge gained at NYFA to influence the industry not only in America, but in their home countries as well.”

    Babbitt continues, “The power of community is essential to the entertainment industry and to artistic success. I am very pleased to see a community of New York Film Academy artists forming here in South Africa, and I’m excited to see how this budding community will expand and impact the way South African stories are told. The sky is the limit for this group!” 

    During the event, NYFA alumni exchanged contact information, formed WhatsApp groups, and tagged each other in social media posts and stories. There was even discussion to form an official alumni chapter in South Africa. 

    Additionally, many alumni expressed their gratitude for the training they received at New York Film Academy, and for NYFA’s concern for them after they graduated. “Once you join us at New York Film Academy, you become a part of our family for life,” Babbitt told the alumni. “We don’t forget about you the second you graduate. Seeing you succeed is incredibly important to us.”

    “Blake and Maria were the most gracious hosts,” says BFA Filmmaking alum Zack Schofield-Nel. “The people that I was blessed to have networked with were incredible; I have built connections that will last for a long time to come. This could have only have happened because I was fortunate enough to attend the New York Film Academy.”

    He adds, “It is the most supercalifragilisticexpialidocious that I could have ever imagined!”

    Attendees included the following NYFA alumni:

    • Lunathi Mampofu (2-year Acting for Film): Trailblazing South African actress. Working on multiple TV shows in South Africa.

    • Eden Classens (2-year Musical Theatre): Runner-up, Dancing with the Stars South Africa; Lead on Afrikaans series Suidooster; recently cast in Netflix’s Kissing Booth 2.

    • Rethabile Ramaphakela (8-week Screenwriting): South African production company co-owner and voiceover artist best known as the voice of the Vuzu shows V-Entertainment and 10 Over 10. Co-owner of the production company Burnt Onion Productions with her brothers Tshepo and Katleho, who created and produced the SABC1 sitcom My Perfect Family and the Vuzu mockumentary Check-Coast. Produced and created a show that is currently available on Amazon Prime. Directing her first feature film in June.

    • Zandi Zim (MFA Acting for Film): Formed her own production company. South African actress that has performed at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival and Cape Town Fringe Festival. Stage actor since the age of eight and has studied Meisner and Alexander Technique. Zandi also sings, plays jazz piano and marimbas, and speaks English and conversational Sesotho.

    • Jacqueline Rainers Setai (8-week Screenwriting, continuing into 1-year Screenwriting): Head of Mojalove Channel on DSTV; well-known and established South African writer, producer, documentarian, broadcaster.

    • Petrone van der Merwe (8-week Acting for Film): Currently in two stage productions for the ADK (Academy of Dramatic Arts)’s 80th birthday celebrations that will premiere at the UJ Artscape Theater in Johannesburg and will also be performed in Stellenbosch at the Drostdy Theater. Signed with the talent agency, Gaenor Artiste Management.

    • Audrey Mokono (1-year Acting for Film, continuing into BFA Acting for Film): Recent graduate of NYFA’s 1-year Acting for Film program and will continue her studies in NYFA’s BFA Acting for Film program.

    • Anlezia Venter (BFA Acting for Film): Opened her own fitness studio in Cape Town.

    • Zackary Nel (BFA Filmmaking): Currently finishing his BFA thesis film in Cape Town, and has hired his own local crew.

    • Paul Fulton (8-week Screenwriting): Copywriter for ad agency. Has two feature-length scripts he is working on getting sold.

    • Keyuri Naidoo (6-week Acting for Film): From Johannesburg; known for her role as Karishma in Droomdag (2017) directed by Willie Esterhuizen. During her time at NYFA-Los Angeles, Keyuri directed and acted in numerous student short films.

    • Thuto Marrengula (1-year Acting for Film): Thuto Marrengula is an actor, known for Non American Dreamers (2018) and Ask Questions Later (2016); currently developing an hour-long stand up routine.

    • Nyeleti Khoza (AFA Acting for Film):  South African actor known for The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead (2016), Black Tea (2017), and Remember Me (2017). Recently cast in Giyani – Land of Blood, a new highly-viewed telenovela on SABC2

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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Academy Award-winning Actor Sir Ben Kingsley

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a Q&A with Academy Award-winning actor Sir Ben Kingsley last Thursday, May 23, following a screening of the first episode of the new Epix series, Perpetual Grace, LTD. The event was moderated by NYFA admissions specialist Chris Devane.

    Sir Ben Kingsley
    Kingsley began his career by studying theatre in Manchester, England and eventually acted professionally in the West End in London and then on Broadway in New York. After establishing himself on the stage, Kingsley began working as an actor in television and film in Hollywood, quickly drawing acclaim for his work. In 1983, he won the Academy Award for Lead Actor for his work in Gandhi.

    Other notable film roles include Schindler’s List, House of Sand and Fog, Hugo, Iron Man 3, Ender’s Game, Night at the Museum, and The Jungle Book. In 2002, Kingsley was named a Knight Bachelor by Queen Elizabeth II for his contributions to the British film industry.

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    Moderator Chris Devane began the Q&A by asking what inspired Kingsley to become a professional actor. “My absolute desire was to be seen and heard,” answered Kingsley, adding, “impersonation gave a great comfort in that I could—for a fleeting moment—acquire an identity and a voice … and entertain and connect with people.”

    “Eventually,” he continued, “it was clear to me that I could, in fact, turn what one could call … an urge … into a craft … Without the urge to connect, one isn’t really an artist.”

    One student in the audience asked what Kingsley has learned from his many years as an actor. “When one was younger, one did an awful lot of acting and, as one matures in the craft, paradoxically, you do less and less and less and less acting … and, hopefully, you embark on a process of being.”

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    Kingsley was asked by another student how he is able to switch from one role to the next so quickly. Kingsley replied that when he was acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company, he was playing multiple roles each week. He elaborated, “As a matter of survival, you [learn], you [have] to get off that horse and get on another one and you know the horses are very different; it simply is practice, but, unless you have that muscle that’s practiced in you that can switch from one role to another, it’s going to be very difficult.”

    Kingsley added, “I have learned, onstage, through my work in the great rehearsal room … after each take … I let go … I’m constantly letting go … I do not stay in character between takes and I do not stay in character when I go home.”

    Sir Ben Kingsley

    New York Film Academy thanks Sir Ben Kingsley for sharing his insights about the art and craft of acting as well as anecdotes from his renowned and prolific career in film, theatre, and television.

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    May 29, 2019 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 402

  • ‘Birdy’ Screening and Q&A with Actor and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Board Member Matthew Modine

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    On Monday, May 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of Birdy (1984), starring Nicolas Cage and Matthew Modine, followed by a Q&A with actor, director, and NYFA board member, Matthew Modine, moderated by NYFA Screenwriting instructor, Eric Conner.

    Matthew Modine Birdy

    Modine studied with Stella Adler at her Conservatory of Acting in New York City. While still a student of hers, he was cast in lead roles in film and later theatre and television. Modine has acted in a number of films including Vision Quest (1985), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and he has worked with a number of critically-acclaimed directors including Robert Altman, Stanley Kubrick, Spike Lee, Christopher Nolan, and Oliver Stone. He has been nominated for Golden Globes, Emmy Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards. Modine is currently running for president of SAG-AFTRA.

    The NYFA Theater was packed with NYFA students, including veteran-students enrolled in various programs at NYFA. Many military servicemembers have a special fondness for the famed actor because of his numerous portrayals of the life of a soldier–including his standout roles in Birdy, Full Metal Jacket, and Memphis Belle.

    Birdy is a 1984 Vietnam War drama that follows the story of two teenage friends, Birdy (Modine) and Al (Nicolas Cage) who served in the Vietnam War and are forced to cope with the post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences in combat. Birdy appears to completely lose touch with all reality, and Al struggles to help his friend regain his connection with the existent world. Modine gives a tremendous performance as the young, traumatized Vietnam veteran.

    Matthew Modine Birdy
    Mike Kunselman, a veteran and member of the NYFA DVS staff, expressed,  “As a veteran, and an actor myself, I was very interested in Mr. Modine’s emphasis on the importance of being proactive with one’s own career.” Kunselman continued, “I also was intrigued by his portrayal of a Vietnam War US combat serviceman, and his ability to own the sympathetic character of Birdy.”

    Conner opened the Q&A by asking Modine what he’s learned from his prolific career as an actor in Hollywood. Modine replied, “The only moment that an actor can completely control is between ‘action’ and ‘cut’… that’s your moment… Everything else is out of your control. The editing. The distribution. It’s all out of your control. I worked just as hard on the successful films I’ve made as I did on the films that weren’t successful—what’s the lesson? Simple, always do your very best … work really hard and be present and, if you’re lucky, it all comes together.”

    Modine shared a piece of advice for the producers and directors in the audience, “When you’re putting your crew together, that’s just like casting the movie with your actors; you want to cast your crew and your actors that you know and trust.”

    Matthew Modine Birdy

    One of the students in the audience asked Modine for advice for actors just starting out in the business. Modine said that actors should trust themselves and their instincts: “If you’re waiting to be directed, you’ve lost, you have to be self-prepared and have made choices about your character. Your choices are your talent!” he emphasized. 

    “Mr. Modine was very informative with the information that he shared,” said Jonathan Garza, a Navy Veteran and BFA Producing alum. His stories from being on set were very entertaining. Even as an alumnus of the Producing program, I can take the information that he shared and apply it to my craft.”

    Modine also shared that he believes the auditioning process to be very important as an actor and that, when actors are feeling discouraged, they should remember that, “Every no is a step closer to a yes.”

    New York Film Academy and the NYFA Division of Veteran Services would like to thank Matthew Modine for sharing his advice for actors and directors as well as anecdotes from his experiences in the entertainment industry.

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    May 10, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights, Guest Speakers • Views: 802

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Jason Shah Interviewed by ‘The Tribune’

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    Earlier this year, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum Jason Shah was interviewed in a Q&A with The Tribune, the daily English-language newspaper that has been circulated throughout India since 1881.

    Shah first attended NYFA’s Acting for Film program in September 2009 at our New York City campus, where he received a hands-on education from working, professional actors, writers, directors, and producers who are veterans of Hollywood, independent film, and television. In addition to acting, he has modeled and worked as a fitness coach.

    Jason Shah

    His credits include Indian productions such as Bigg Boss, Chandrashekhar Azaad, Inside Edge Season II, and the film Dev D. His latest role in the historical drama Jhansi Ki Rani, which co-stars Anuja Sathe, Aishwarya Raj Bhakuni, and Rajesh Shringarpure, gained Shah enough buzz for The Tribune to sit down with him for an interview.

    Shah spoke of his background—he is half English and half American—as well as his new role in Jhansi Ki Rani. The series, which premiered this year, is the story of the fierce warrior Manikarnika, who was later given the name of Rani Laxmibai, Queen of Jhansi. Shah credits his fluency in Hindi as a crucial skill for landing the part, as well as sharing a lot in common with his character, a foreigner in India.

    Acting isn’t Shah’s only passion. When asked by The Tribune where he saw himself in five years, Shah replied, “I feel after this I might want to go into direction and produce something myself. I have been working on it with a few friends, just waiting for the right time.”

    The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Jason Shah on his Tribune interview and his role on Jhansi Ki Rani!

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    April 24, 2019 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 534

  • ‘Boxing Girls’ Features Two New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni

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    Boxing Girls, a new Arabic-language drama from the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) premiered earlier this year and is the screenwriting debut of New York Film Academy (NYFA) alum Afnan Alqasimi. Additionally, the program features actress and NYFA alum Dana Al Salem.

    Alqasimi hails from the United Arab Emirates and attended NYFA’s 4-week Filmmaking workshop in April 2012. Alqasimi previously worked on the animation short Homecoming. Al Salem is originally from Bahrain and enrolled in NYFA’s 4-week Filmmaking workshop at our Los Angeles campus in August 2015. Al Salem previously appeared in The Sleeping Tree and the short film Canary.

    Boxing Girls is gaining buzz for its focus on female characters and stars several well-known Arabic performers, including Fatima Al Hosani, Ali Al Sherif, and Shaifan Al Otaibi. The program was directed by Saudi filmmaker Samir Aref and was produced by O3 Productions and twofour54 Abu Dhabi.

    Boxing Girls

    “This drama production is particularly unique, because it puts a real emphasis on the region’s young talent — both in front of and behind the camera,” says Maryam Eid AlMheiri, CEO of Media Zone Authority, Abu Dhabi (MZA) and twofour54.

    The program was shot over two months across various locations in Abu Dhabi, before completing production in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Additional cast members include Mila Zahrani, Abdul Aziz Skeirin, Alaa Shaker, Anoud Al Saoud, Abeer Sander, Noura Ezzer, Mohammed Meshaal, Rakan, Zuhair Haider, and Zara Al Balushi.

    Boxing Girls debuted in February of this year.

    The New York Film Academy congratulates workshop alumni Afnan Alqasimi and  Dana Al Salem on the production and success of Boxing Girls

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  • Q&A with NYFA Acting for Film Instructor Melissa Sullivan

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    Melissa Sullivan was so shy growing up, she would stare at the ceiling to avoid looking at people. Eventually, realizing “ceilings weren’t going to get me anywhere in life,” she decided to make a change—and committed to talking to one stranger a day. That, plus an affinity for the stage, got Sullivan out of her shell and into a variety of performing arts: theatre, television, film, and music. 

    Melissa Sullivan

    Sullivan, who teaches acting and is the musical director of the NYFA Glee Club, took some time to discuss her career as a multi-hyphenate and her upcoming album.

    New York Film Academy (NYFA): How/when did you know you wanted to pursue the performing arts?

    Melissa Sullivan (MS): In Naha, Okinawa, my mother put me in a ballet class. I remember a performance being back stage. I loved it. The smell of the stage, the curtains, the anticipation of the performance. I wasn’t the best dancer but the experience was informative and I knew I was at home in the theatre.

    NYFA: You’ve performed in a variety of fields—theater, television, film, and music—and have also directed. As an artist, how do you see yourself and why?

    MS: When I first moved to Los Angeles things were very different than they are now. I heard “Are you an actor, or a singer? You need to pick one.” Now it is much more fluid. Performers have more freedom to explore, perhaps because of technology and the access to it. The connection of artists globally through technology is amazing. I studied at California Institute of the Arts where all disciplines lived side by side. You would hear music in the hallway, walk by a piece of art, see dancers in the distance, artists in the gallery discussing someone’s work, and watch filmmakers editing in the graffitied sub-level. It was such a great environment. After I graduated, I never gave that spirit up.

    NYFA: Speaking of, you have a long list of credits in various mediums. Of all the work you’ve done, what are you most proud of and why? 

    MS: Recording my album of original music and playing Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at the Actors Studio, directed by Barbara Bain.

    NYFA: Additionally, are there any others that stick out in your mind of being particularly memorable and why? 

    MS: Filming an episode of Shameless. I had been called into the casting office for Shameless for a few years and was happy to finally land a part. I’m really happy with the work that I did on that show. The experience was fast paced and yet enjoyable. It is a great production from the actors, directors, AD’s, scripts, grips and on.

    Melissa Sullivan

    NYFA: As a multi-hyphenate, what is the most challenging aspect about wearing different hats, project to project? How do you take on the challenge? 

    MS: Working on a few things at once suits my mind. I am very busy, so I write music while I walk my dogs or drive to work. I wrote some of my favorite songs in my car. I guess to be a multi-hyphenate you have to organize your time well and I have gotten better at this. Teaching has inspired me to take more risks. When you talk with students about their growth and how to facilitate it, you in turn have to follow suit with your own work.

    NYFA: You’re the musical director of the NYFA Glee Club and have said that “music can transform people.” Can you elaborate on that? 

    MS: I have seen students petrified to sing in front of one person, but at the end of the semester they are performing in front of an audience of 90 people. Singing brings people confidence. It is a raw emotional expression. With the Glee Club I try to foster leadership and collaboration. We have student conductors and section leaders. I am blown away by their talent.

    NYFA: Speaking of music, you have an album coming out in December. How would you describe your music? 

    MS: I am a trained jazz singer so my songs come from a jazz foundation, but it is an amalgam of genres: jazz, blues, and pop. I am almost finished! It’s been quite a journey.

    NYFA: What’s your favorite thing about teaching at NYFA? 

    MS: I admire my colleagues. I appreciate the support that the acting and filmmaking teachers give to one another. I also love the fact that the students are from all over the world. I have so much respect for foreign students who open their hearts and act in a second language. I also really like working with the veterans. I appreciate the time they served for our country and I find most of them are highly disciplined at NYFA. They are brave and want to dive into the craft.

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    April 16, 2019 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 472

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film Alum Alberto Frezza Lands Lead Role on ‘Station 19’

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    ABC has cast Alberto Frezza, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Acting for Film alum, in a lead role in Station 19, a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy. Frezza plays Seattle police officer Ryan Tanner, who has a close relationship with the show’s lead, played by Jaina Lee Ortiz.

    Before landing the role, Frezza previously made several appearances in short films and television, including Criminal Minds on CBS. Firefighting-action dramaStation 19 is the latest show from Shonda Rhimes, creator of popular medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. It takes place in the same city and cinematic universe.

    Frezza recently spoke with NYFA about the casting process for the series. “It took almost a month with four audition/callbacks, one test audition, and a chemistry read with Jaina Lee Ortiz. By far the longest audition process I have gone through for a role.”

    Born in Milan, Italy, Frezza was raised in Ethiopia. As a child, he hoped to become a soccer player, but after seeing River Phoenix’s 1986 film Stand By Me, he decided to become an actor.

    Eventually, Frezza moved to the United States and enrolled in the Acting for Film program at New York Film Academy, where Frezza trained intensively in screen acting and modern on-camera acting techniques through a hands-on, practical curriculum.

    In addition to acting, Frezza also enjoys diving and photography. He applies both hobbies to another passion: environmentalism. Frezza cites his upbringing in Ethiopia’s Lake Langano area for his interest in the conservation of animals.

    His Instagram account documents the exotic animals he comes across in his travels, and who he strives to protect through environmental endeavors. As his star power grows, Frezza’s passion for the environment reaches more and more followers. The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Alberto Frezza on his new role in the Shondaland television drama Station 19, which airs on the ABC network.

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    April 12, 2019 • Academic Programs, Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 156

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Florence Students Shoot Stunning New Video

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    Several students attending New York Film Academy (NYFA) in Florence, Italy came together to shoot a stunning new video about the experience of learning film and acting in the breathtakingly beautiful city.

    All of the Fall 2018 Florence students were invited to participate in the shooting of a new video and photo shoot for NYFA’s Florence programs. By working as crew members, and acting in the piece, the students were getting first-hand experience doing the very things they came to Florence to learn.

    The students went through auditions and casting, as well as interviews, to mimic the process it takes to score coveted roles in a highly competitive industry. While some of the students were assigned smaller roles than they may have tried out for, it was nonetheless a lesson in humility and acceptance that is needed to continue a career in the visual arts.

    The leading actors cast in the video were students David Puskas (1-semester Acting for Film) and Faranak Moradi (1-semester Filmmaking). Additionally, Filmmaking students Joren Pelsma, Pietro Barba, Scott Carlson worked as camera assistants and second unit director of photography. Several other NYFA Florence students participated in the shoot as supporting actors, extras, make up artists, and other roles.

    Everyone involved showed a deep level of commitment toward their craft and a passion for learning as much as possible. The shoot started at dawn—the Magic Hour—so the students were up very early and ready to work. To mimic a professional set, the students all sat and ate breakfast together before the first shot.

    Students weren’t just involved in the production of the video, but the post-production as well. They were given the opportunity to watch an early cut of the video and give their feedback and notes for the next re-edit.

    Projects such as this newest video are not uncommon at NYFA Florence, and students often have a chance to work on projects outside of their own that are deeply tied to the Renaissance city. Thanks to a well-established relationship between NYFA and the municipal government of Florence, NYFA students and staff are often invited to shoot professional videos in collaboration with the city of Florence itself, including its orchestral Strings City event. This, in turn, also gives the students professional credits to add to their resumes before they’ve even finished the program!

    You can find more information on the programs offered at NYFA Florence HERE.

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    April 10, 2019 • Acting, Filmmaking, Study Abroad • Views: 383

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Make Alma Mater Proud

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailIn its 27-year history, countless students have graduated from the conservatories, camps, workshops, and degree programs of New York Film Academy (NYFA). NYFA is frequently and consistently pleased to hear the latest successes of our alumni as they continue to move forward in their careers and push themselves artistically in an industry that thrives on hard work and intensive competition. 

    Here are just some of the latest updates from alumni—filmmakers, actors, screenwriters, producers, musical theatre performers, documentarians, cinematographers, broadcast journalists, virtual reality and game designers, graphic designers, editors, animators, visual effects artists, and everything in between—as they continue to flourish in their crafts and make New York Film Academy proud to be their school of choice.

    Sakshi Talwar

    NYFA Sakshi Talwar took the skills she learned at our 1-week Filmmaking workshop to write and direct the short film Letter of Intent, which went onto be an official selection at the 2018 LA Shorts Awards. Last summer, the film won Bronze at the NYC Indie Film Festival, an incredibly impressive achievement for a filmmaker whose just getting started!

    Sakshi Talwar
    Varuun Pandya

    BFA Filmmaking alum Varuun Pandya has been called an “acclaimed screenwriter” by Broadway World and was recently honored for two of his screenplays. His script, The House, earned Best Screenplay at the Calcutta Cult Film Festival, while his script XYZ won Best Sci-Fi Short Screenplay at the Hollywood Just4Shorts Short Film & Screenplay Competition.

    Fabio Ribak

    MFA in Game Design alum Fabio Ribak is now a 3D Animator at Sony Playstation Studios. The company is hard at work developing their flagship console for the next generation of gaming devices, the Playstation 5. Ribak is working with motion capture animations in Maya cinematic cut scenes in video games.

    Tyler D’Andrea Lambert

    Tyler D’Andrea Lambert enrolled in the 1-year Acting for Film conservatory at NYFA’s New York campus after competing a 1-week workshop. Before he even graduated, Lambert earned an on-screen role on hit sitcom The Neighborhood in its seventh episode, “Welcome to the Barbershop.” Lambert got to act alongside series star and previous NYFA guest speaker Cedric the Entertainer, and told NYFA, I’m so glad I came here, it changed my life. I met some amazing friends, teachers, and the energy is great. Can’t wait to hit the pavement and start running. I’m excited for what the future holds.”

    Tyler D'Andrea Lambert

    Cedric the Entertainer & Tyler D’Andrea Lambert


    Davin Tjen

    BFA Producing alum David Tjen has put his skills to work as a segment producer at Mythical Entertainment. The incredibly successful production company was founded by Rhett James McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III, collectively known as Rhett & Link, and is the home of multiple projects, including YouTube series Good Mythical Morning, which boasts over 15 million subscribers. 

    Celeste Pillay

    BFA Filmmaking alum Celeste Pillay’s first professional gig on a feature film was as a production assistant on the Bollywood film Race 3, starring Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, and Anil Kapoor. She recently worked as a production coordinator on a Hollywood production in Abu Dhabi in a more senior role, leading the local crew through production and liaising between the local and international production teams. Only one year into her professional career, Pillay is off to a great start and already lining up projects with household name blockbuster directors!

    Celeste Pillay


    Linnea Lardsdotter & Johan Matton

    Linea Lardsdotter (2-year Musical Theatre) and Johan Matton (2-year Acting) are both native to Sweden and studied at our New York campus. After graduation, the two collaborated to form the Nordic International Film Festival. The fest is the biggest Nordic Film Festival outside Europe, and held its 5th annual edition in New York City, with a focus on women’s empowerment in the industry, including a panel discussion entitled “Breaking Boundaries.”

    Keren Seol & Muriel Moraes

    1-year Producing alumni Keren Seol and Muriel Moraes studied together at our New York City campus in 2011. Both are producers on the 2018 feature documentary Olympia, about Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis. Seol previously produced several short films, TV pilot The Loft, documentary The Case of Josephine H., and TV movie The Reel Life. Among other credits, Moraes has worked on animated films Epic and Ferdinand. 

    Olympia
    Orlando Braun

    MFA in Producing alum Orlando Braun is now an associate producer on the Discovery ID series In Plain Sight. Braun previously won Best Musical Short at the New York Independent Film Festival and Best Director and Best Ensemble Cast at BAFF (Best Actor Film Festival), and was nominated for the Canadian Screen Awards Diversity Award and won the Award of Excellence in Filmmaking at the Canada International Film Festival. His short film War Bride premiered at the 2013 Festival de Cannes in the Short Film Corner followed by multiple Official Selections in other festivals.

    Cameron Cubbison

    NYFA alum Cameron Cubbison co-founded the screenwriting platform Screencraft after working as an experienced reader, script consultant, and screenwriter. As a studio reader and script consultant, he provided notes hundreds of screenplays and books for companies including the Sundance Institute, Lionsgate, Resolution, Paradigm Talent Agency, United Talent Agency, ICM Partners, Penguin Random House, Open Road Films, Attraction Entertainment, Circle Associates, Amazon Studios, and Fresh Voices. He currently has two spec film scripts and a web series in active development.

    Gianni McLaughlin

    8-week Filmmaking alum Gianni McLaughlin is preparing to adapt the the award-winning short film he made at NYFA’s New York City campus, Bless Me Father, into a feature film. The New Jersey filmmaker is also an actor, having appeared in Peaky Blinders and HBO’s The Deuce as well as FedEx and Perry Ellis advertising campaigns.

    Gianni McLaughlin

    Grettir Olafsson

    Grettir Olafsson hails from Iceland and earned his MFA in Game Design from NYFA-Los Angeles. He is now working as a game designer at Rockstar Games, the studio behind video game juggernauts Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and L.A. Noire. 

    Eva & Diana Melkonyan

    Sisters Eva and Diana Melkonyan both attended NYFA-Los Angeles camps in summer 2018. Eva graduated from the 6-week Filmmaking camp for teens and Diana is an alum of the 2-week Acting for Film camp for kids. The sisters perform as a piano duo and recently played Carnegie Hall at a concert presented by Global Artists Debut Concerts, featuring winners from the Suzanne Culley Competition in the United States and the Viva-Music International Competition in Russia. The Melkonyan Sisters previously gave their debut concert at the Bolshoi Theater in Russia.

    Peipei Duan

    MFA in Producing alum Peipei Duan produced several short films while studying at NYFA-Los Angeles. One of the films, Lip Reader: Game of Detective, won the “Golden Award” at the 15th Guangzhou Student Film Festival. Duan was recently the recipient of the Cathay Bank Scholarship, which awards and supports Chinese students of great academic achievement. She will use the money to produce a new short film and take it to the Festival circuit.

    Peipei Duan
    Dave Cebrero

    8-week Filmmaking workshop alum Dave Cebrero is celebrating the fourth year of the Houston Latino Film Festival, which he founded. Surprised at the lack of film festivals in one of the largest cities in America, Cebrero took it upon himself to create the fest. “From its inception, we wanted it to become sort of a conference,” tells the Houston Chronicle. “The education aspect of it, we want it to grow.”

    Moe Myat May Zarchi

    1-Year Filmmaking alum Moe Myat May Zarchi studied in New York City and is determined to raise the industry’s awareness of cinema in her home country of Myanmar. She has created 3 ACT, the first-ever film magazine in Myanmar, which she also edits and write for. The magazine is already making an impact, and has been invited to the Tokyo International Film Festival as foreign press last year, and has also been acclaimed by both the French film magazine Cahiers Du Cinema and Japan’s Nikkei Asia Review.

    Maddie Quarm

    8-week Filmmaking alum Maddie Quarm has started work on her next film, Go For Alayna, a farcical comedy about an aspiring filmmaker and a famous actress who are pit against each other while working on the set of a big budget film. The film covers very relevant topics including the perception of female power, #MeToo, systemic sexism, and performative feminism—using satire to convey these themes.

    Reggie Luck

    BFA Producing alum Reggie Luck made the short film My Brother Wes while at NYFA-Los Angeles. The film recently won three festival awards: Best Narrative Short at the Marina del Rey Film Festival, Best Screenplay at the Culver City Film Festival, and Best Short Film at Battle of the Film Schools Film Festival. The film inspired by his grandchildren, and Luck has already locked most of the funds for a feature adaptation. He hopes to shoot the film this summer.

    Reggie Luck
    Anna Solano

    1-year Cinematography alum Anna Solano has shot the feature film The Farewell, about a Chinese family preparing for the death of their elderly matriarch. The film stars Awkwafina, Tzi Ma, and Gil Perez-Abraham and competed at the Sundance Film Festival. The Spanish cinematographer has also co-written Silent Notes, which she shot, and which is currently in post-production. 

    Jameelah Rose Lineses

    Atareek, the Saudi music video film written and directed by Jameelah Rose Lineses and winner of the Best Cinematography award at the International Film Festival Manhattan 2018, is now an Official Selection and will be competing at the Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival in Houston, Texas later this summer.

    Raitis Ābele

    Filmmaking alum Raitis Ābele co-directed Baltic Tribes with his brother Lauris Ābele, a feature documentary produced in Latvia that includes reenactments and animation to tell the story of a Swedish merchant named Lars and the pagan tribes from centuries ago. The film had its US premiere at the Baltic Film Festival in New York, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

    Kai D’Amour

    The Watchmaker was the Diploma Final Film for Kai D’Amour when studied Filmmaking at NYFA-Australia’s Gold Coast campus. The film has had numerous successes since then, winning the Top Shorts Online Film Festival, Screen It Film Festival, LA Film Awards, New York Film Awards, and Latitude Film Awards. Additionally, The Watchmaker was nominated for Best Narrative Film at GUFA (Global University Film Awards – Hong Kong), selected in the Top 8 out of more than 1800 short films entered into the fest.

    Obinna Eze-Ajoku

    MFA in Game Design alum Obinna Eze Ajoku is now the Technical Program Manager at Microsoft Studios, where he began as a Software Design Engineer. He is also senior consultant at Techno Brain Group and has previously worked for WWE, Electronic Arts, and Playstation for their triple-A game God of War.

    Farhan Abbas

    NYFA Filmmaking alum Farhan Abbas has been very productive and successful since graduation, and has been involved with several film festivals, won awards, and has facilitated creative workshops with other filmmakers. He was a Jury Member at the 6th Edition of Emirates Short Film Festival 2019, one of the biggest festivals in Dubai. How director showreel can be found here.

    Alexander J. Farrell

    Acting for Film alum Alexander J. Farrell went behind the camera to direct the stunning documentary Refugee, about a Syrian mother who was separated from her family while trying to seek asylum during the height of the war in her home country. The film shares producers with Oscar-winning documentaries Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Farrell first enrolled at NYFA’s New York campus in 2012, before completing his studies at our Los Angeles campus.

    refugee alexander farrell
    New York Film Academy congratulates all of our alumni on their incredible achievements and wish them the best of success as they continue to advance in their careers and contribute their artistic voices to the entertainment industry!

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    April 2, 2019 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 540