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  • Actress Alaina Huffman Studies Filmmaking With New York Film Academy

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    Veteran actress and producer Alaina Huffman is no stranger to the film business and has appeared on some of your favorite shows and films over the past couple of decades. From Smallville and Painkiller Jane to Amber Alert and Netflix’s The Perfection, Huffman has a long list of film and TV credits that have allowed her to see the filmmaking process from both in front of and behind the camera.

    Huffman recently decided to take the time to expand her technical skills by taking one of NYFA’s Online Filmmaking Workshops, allowing her to take classes to study the filmmaking craft more in-depth.

    “I’ve had the desire to direct for some time,” Huffman shared. “I had a short I was set to direct last April but I had to postpone due to COVID. Between working and being a single mom of four, I never really felt I could fit school into my life. With all this downtime and watching my kids do homeschool, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to take classes.

    Photo courtesy of Alaina Huffman

    With a career spanning television fan-favorite titles to her indie film background, Huffman learned a lot during that time beyond being an actor, including what it takes to produce, direct, and work alongside the crew. “Once my career started to move into television, I was working with more established crews and actors. Every day on set is an education if you pay attention. You not only learn what to do, a lot of times you learn what not to do. Now 25 years into my career, I’m still learning along the way.”

    In addition to the teachable moments presented to Huffman on set, being in front of the camera over the years has brought her so much joy in collaboration. “I have a fondness for all the characters I’ve played, they are so special to me,” she revealed. “Being a part of a series is like being part of a family. There’s a closeness and special bonds that form. I have lifelong friends from my time on Stargate Universe, Smallville, Supernatural, and The 100. For me, I like when a character creates themselves. It’s almost effortless, they just come to me like it’s meant to be.”

    Photo courtesy of Alaina Huffman

    Like Huffman shared, even professionals who have been in the industry for years are constantly absorbing information and learning along the way, which is why coming to NYFA was another resource for Huffman to explore all the aspects of the filmmaking craft.

    “My advice to incoming students [at NYFA] would be to have fun! Ultimately filmmaking is a joy. Remember why you love movies and television and enjoy learning the tools to aid your creative process. It always amazes me that we all have access to the same equipment, the same information and yet we all come up with such diverse ideas. Enjoy learning from each other as much as the professors.”

    Alaina Huffman in “Stargate Universe” (Syfy)

    What’s next for Alaina Huffman? While we wait for her upcoming horror film Deep Focus, Huffman is slated to direct. “I’m shooting [a movie] next month called The Missing Twin and I’m super lucky in that in addition to playing the lead character, they’ve offered me the opportunity to direct the second unit. Once I finish that I’ll go on to direct my short film that got delayed.”

    New York Film Academy thanks Alaina Huffman for taking the time to share more about her thoughts on continuing her education at NYFA and looks forward to sharing more about her upcoming projects in the future.

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    March 2, 2021 • Entertainment News, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 851

  • New York Film Academy Welcomes Acclaimed ‘American Beauty’ Actress Mena Suvari for The NYFA Q&A Series

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    On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, New York Film Academy (NYFA) had the pleasure to hold a live video Q&A with critically acclaimed actress MENA SUVARI to discuss her acting career with NYFA students and alumni. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, moderated the event.

    Mena Suvari is an award winning actress known for her roles in hits such as American Pie (1999) and the five-time Oscar-awarded American Beauty (1999). Directed by Sam Mendes, her genuine and moving performance as the character Angeles Hayes in American Beauty earned her a ‘Best Supporting Actress’ nod by BAFTA and a SAG Award for ‘Best Ensemble Cast.’ Suvari also won a Movieline Award for ‘Breakthrough Performance’ for her role.

    Following the success of American Pie, she reunited with Jason Biggs in Amy Heckerling’s romantic comedy Loser (2000) and continued to show her acting range in projects like Jonas Åkerlund’s cult-classic Spun (2002), Rob Reiner’s Rumor Has It (2005), Tony Scott’s Domino (2005), and Factory Girl (2006), amongst others.

    Tova Laiter (Left) and Mena Suvari (Right) during live Q&A

    Laiter opened the conversation by discussing Suvari’s career in the entertainment industry, which began with Suvari booking modeling and commercial jobs, which then turned into guest star roles on television. After booking her first film, Nowhere (1997), other indie film gigs soon opened up for the actress, eventually leading her to her biggest break yet, a lead role in the cult-classic, blockbuster film American Pie.

    Suvari recalls the audition for high school chorus student Heather being very relaxed and not as intense as her audition for American Beauty. After shooting American Pie, Suvari remembers going into film Sam Mendes’ heavily awarded film American Beauty, playing a more dramatic role as Angela Hayes, known for her iconic, risqué rose petal scenes throughout the film.

    “I honestly remember thinking, at the time, ‘I’m so happy to have a job’ not necessarily the big names around me and they [American Pie and American Beauty] saved me at the time during a very personally challenging moment in my life.”

    Kevin Spacey (Left) and Mena Suvari (Right) in ‘American Beauty’

    Suvari, who has experienced shooting some intimate scenes across her filmography, also touched on what it can be like for actors on set when filming a very sensual or more explicit scene.

    “It can definitely be awkward sometimes,” she laughs, “I have worked in all types of scenarios, but when you are shooting intimate scenes you want to keep the crew as small as possible and make everything feel very considerate.” For American Beauty, Suvari recalls everything being handled very professionally and carefully and remembers that Mendes was “very supportive” throughout the process.

    Mena Suvari in ‘American Pie’ (1999)

    A student then asked Suvari how she personally gets into approaching a role when reading a script. “It depends on the project,” she shared. “I am currently working on a project now, for example, where there is a tight family dynamic and I am trying to understand where the characters are coming from and their motivations.”

    Ultimately, Suvari explains, approaching a script is really about collaboration, as well. “I want to approach the writer, the director, and whoever I can to understand the genesis of the story and what it means to them, and ask as many questions as I can.”

    Mena Suvari (Left) and Alicia Silverstone (Right) in ‘American Woman’

    Suvari closed the conversation, by sharing some advice with NYFA students that has always stuck with her throughout her career while she was shooting Orpheus in 2007. “It was something that you think would be so simple, but the director [Bruce Beresford] just said ‘listen, listen listen,’ which can be tricky if you think about it, because you already know the script and what will happen because you are familiar with everything, but you need to be as present as possible in the moment.”

    Laiter then thanked Suvari for joining the conversation and giving students some excellent insight for their future productions in front of the camera or for those directing actors, while Suvari exclaimed she was so happy to be part of the conversation and to speak with the students.

    New York Film Academy would like to thank actress Mena Suvari for sharing her time and her experiences working on set from being a young actress to a seasoned performer. NYFA encourages everyone to check out Suvari’s upcoming film Grace and Grit, set to release later in 2020.

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    July 15, 2020 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1884

  • Brazilian Actress Franciely Freduzeski Gives Tips to Foreign Actors in Hollywood

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    Franciely FreduzeskiThree years ago famous Brazilian actress Franciely Freduzeski, known from her work on O Clone, América, Zorra Total and Malhação for Globo TV as well as the Brazilian Version of Desperate Housewives for RedeTV and A Fazenda for Rede Record amongst many other credits in Film, Theatre and TV, came to Los Angeles to attend an 8-Week Acting for Film Workshop at the New York Film Academy. After that program she made a very brave decision to start a new career in the entertainment capital of the world.

    In a friendly conversation with NYFA, Franciely Freduzeski shared some useful tips for newcomers to Hollywood based on her personal experience:

    • Learn English and take accent reduction classes! Know that language will stop you a lot. My English wasn’t good when I came here and because of that I was denied for some roles. Scene study and Monologue classes helped me a lot to improve my English. When you do scenes or monologues you are not only practicing language, you are also learning how to act in this language and how to add emotions to what you are saying.
    • Different country, different rules. Before jumping into the industry, study very hard, every day. Not just acting, but how Americans work here—learn about culture. There is a lot of competition here. Be prepared to miss family, friends and hear a lot of no’s.
    • Franciely FreduzeskiBe sure you have the right headshots and know the general auditions rules. At the beginning I didn’t know what pictures I should submit for auditions, what the requirements were, or what the right headshot for different castings should be. Also, I never did cold readings before coming to Hollywood. We don’t have them in Brazil, so I wasn’t prepared for that. At NYFA we had special class where we practiced cold reading technique and it helped.
    • After all, it is Hollywood and, as they say, you have to be in the right place at the right time. So always be prepared. You never know when that “right moment” will come. In Brazil actors are usually notified about upcoming auditions at least a week in advance and are provided with lines. In Hollywood you might be called and asked to come for the audition 2 hours before the actual casting. Now I am always ready for that: I always have high heels in my bag and a makeup set, just in case.
    • Know that it won’t be easy. You have to really dedicate yourself. Sometimes you might feel lonely and desperate. To be honest there were moments when I was crying and wanted to give up, but, as Coco Chanel said, “Success is often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.”

    Franciely Freduzeski is very thankful for the great support of her son, her boyfriend and her family. With time she managed to find balance between living and working in both countries: Brazil and the United States. Her latest projects in Brazil were a television series called Mascara and a stage play, Exilados, where she played Bertha — a woman with a strong personality who comes to challenge the ideals defended by her husband.

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  • MFA Actress Cast in Off-Broadway Play ‘I’m Sorry’

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    Charlotte MakalaThis past June, the Afrikan Women’s Repertory Company put on The Spring into Summer Festival, which consisted of seven plays over the span of one weekend at the Producers Club in New York City. Of the seven plays from playwright and director Vivian Bonnie Wright, the premiere play was I’m Sorry, a too familiar tale of gun violence. The play is a heartbreaking urban tale where four talented and smart teens head off to prom and only three come back.

    Playing the role of Christine, a talkative teen with a tender spirit, was New York Film Academy MFA Acting alumnus, Charlotte Makala. Charlotte first became involved with the production simply by applying on Backstage and auditioning for a spot in the cast. Most of the cast had already been selected apart from two roles. At the audition, Charlotte felt an immediate rapport with Miss Bonnie Wright and it was no surprise when later that day she was informed that she would play the role of Christine. The play would be her first outside of NYFA.

    “New York Film Academy’s MFA program was and still is integral to my profession because the training helped me understand the technical aspects of what it is I was doing,” says Makala. “It’s one thing to do what you are told but another to know what you are doing. Whenever stage directions were called, I knew what I was doing. Prior to NYFA, I had limited knowledge as to what and why things were – in terms of acting. NYFA’s program helped me get in touch with my creativity for the craft, which I thought I had lost (because it had been two years since I last acted professionally before I joined the program).”

    Charlotte stresses the importance of patience in a field that requires countless hours of waiting and auditions. “There is a lot of waiting; waiting for your next audition, waiting for a call back, waiting on set and waiting back stage. So, what’s the key to maintaining your cool in an arduous field with many ups and downs? Have fun! “I’m sure some actors are rolling their eyes right now, but this little “note-to-self” is key in my auditioning process.”

    Charlotte’s goal as a professional is and has always been to entertain and to tell stories — stories that matter and stories that capture the essence of what is to be human. As for now, Charlotte says she’s simply living one audition at a time. With her experience, persistence and patience, we’re sure Charlotte has a bright future ahead of her!

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    July 18, 2014 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6321

  • Q&A with Parks and Recreation Star and Former Student Aubrey Plaza

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    aubrey plazaThere’s no prouder moment for the New York Film Academy than seeing our very own break through the walls of Hollywood to become a household name. Such is the case with Parks and Recreation star, Aubrey Plaza. At a young age, Aubrey has already had the privilege of working with incredible talent like Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Nick Offerman, and many others. In addition to her breakout role as April on NBC’s Park and Recreation, Aubrey has worked on major productions, including Funny People, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Portlandia, and is currently in pre-production on a new series called Welcome to Sweden.

    While there is never a direct path to stardom, it’s always interesting to hear everyone’s unique path to success. Recently, NYFA had the opportunity to catch up with the former NYFA acting student through an exclusive Q&A, which can be read in its new Student Resources section.

    In the Q&A, Aubrey talks about being an actress, her affection for Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, and which Parks & Rec star she thinks is an asshole. (Hint: it’s not Amy Poehler.)

    CLICK HERE to read the Q&A in its entirety.

     

     

     

     

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    June 27, 2014 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 6108

  • And the Oscar Nominees are…

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    86th oscars

    We all dream of someday having our own Oscar nominations, but for now let’s see which talented artists and films were nominated for this year’s 86th Annual Academy Awards…

    Best Motion Picture of the Year
    Nominees:

    • American Hustle (2013)
    • Captain Phillips (2013)
    • Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
    • Gravity (2013)
    • Her (2013)
    • Nebraska (2013)
    • Philomena (2013)
    • 12 Years a Slave (2013)
    • The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

    Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
    Nominees:

    • Christian Bale for American Hustle (2013)
    • Bruce Dern for Nebraska (2013)
    • Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    • Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
    • Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

    Continue Reading

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    January 16, 2014 • Academic Programs • Views: 5324

  • New York Film Academy’s Silu Yu Shines In China

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    Silu YuActress Silu Yu (余思潞) has found success after finishing New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Acting program in New York City. She explains, “After graduating in 2009 from NYFA, I moved to Los Angeles for work. I got my talent agent after an audition and I was very lucky to been approved by the SAG union after working three months. Due to family reasons, I moved back to China in 2010 and was signed by Star Shining International Talent Agency through a friend, one of the top talent agencies in China, and started the first steps in my acting career in China.”

    Since then, Silu landed a role in the big-budget Chinese feature film Scheme With Me. She is also currently in production on 30 episodes of the television program Shanghai Forest. The young actress has a hectic schedule, going from the set, to media interviews, as well as doing promotion for her recently-completed film.

    In an interview via email, Silu explained the difficulties of working in the film industry in China. “In Hollywood, the camera speaks for you,” said the actress. “The talent agency selects the idea candidates who may match the characters then you still need to go through an official audition to get the role. In China, you not only need an audition but also need a personal network and relationships.”
    “I really enjoyed myself a lot while I studied at NYFA!” said Silu. “Due to the culture and language difference, it took time for adjusting to others. I learned during this adjustment period and the lessons taught me so much about myself. Don’t lose confidence or question your appearance and flaws. A real artist will affect the audience with her soul and spirit, not just simply her looks.”

    Silu went on to share her thoughts on acting. “People always say that a good actor must be good at lying, but I think a good liar is not really a good actor. A real professional actor is performing the truth even truer than the truth. If an actor couldn’t believe the situation himself, how could he persuade the audience?  Being actors, we need to feel it from our hearts and make an authentic performance for the audience. So, don’t think we are liars!”

    Chinese readers can keep up with Silu’s growing success on Baidu and her official fan site.

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    March 14, 2012 • Acting • Views: 5990