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  • NYFA Alum brings 3D Animation to the Stage

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    bob marley

    On Wednesday, May 13, New York Film Academy 3D Animation alumnus and instructor Mark Reynolds stormed Baltimore’s prestigious Center Stage Theater — not as an actor or musician, but as a 3D animator.

    As a member of the animation team for Center Stage’s production of the new musical Marley, a biography of reggae legend Bob Marley, Mark provided 3D models and animation of numerous locations in the play, from Jamaica’s Trench Town slums to the mountains of Ethiopia, and some very specific locations such as Bob Marley’s house and the breathtaking Bet Giyorgis church in Lalibela, Ethiopia. Under the direction of Projections Designer Alex Koch, the team created a stylized look that combines the earthiness of hand-drawn lines and textures with the bold camera movements and dramatic lighting at which computer graphics excel.

    “What we accomplished is pretty remarkable,” Mark says. “The projections and animation run pretty much throughout the play. We essentially made a two-hour animated feature in ten weeks.”

    Mark, who himself completed NYFA’s one-year 3D Animation program in 2013, now teaches at the school, in addition to working as a freelancer. Most recently, his work was seen projected on the H&M tent ceiling at Coachella. “I spent a week making cartoons of cats shooting lasers out of their eyes. It was ridiculous. This is the kind of gig where you can leave work at the end of the day and say, ‘That was so silly. I love my job!'”

    Marley was written and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, and runs through June 14.

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    May 14, 2015 • 3D Animation • Views: 4624

  • New York Film Academy and The Young Storytellers

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    young storytellers

    “In 1997, a group of film students learned that Los Angeles public schools were cutting creative arts programs from the budget. Knowing the value arts-education held in their own lives, they created a volunteer-based creative arts program they could take directly into public schools.” (From http://www.youngstorytellers.com/)

    For close to twenty years, the Young Storytellers Foundation has continued to bring art into thousands of students’ lives. Along the way, New York Film Academy has teamed with YSF by teaching production to their high school students and helping them create their own projects on the Universal backlot.

    nyfa storytellers

    This year – with the invaluable help of YSF’s Bill Thompson & Pilar Alvarez and Valley View Elementary’s Susan Kim – New York Film Academy has become one of a select few colleges running its own Young Storyteller classroom.

    For the eight weeks, a dozen NYFA students and alumni will each mentor a fifth grader from Valley View Elementary school. Led by “head mentors” Dean of Students Eric Conner, the mentors will encourage their students to create and write their own five page screenplays which will be performed as a “live staged reading” by a group of NYFA Actors.

    young storytellers nyfa

    YSF’s Pilar Alvarez trained and prepared the NYFA mentors for the daunting task of keeping up with the ten-year-olds’ minds! Each weekly session will be split between a lecture on the fundamentals of screenwriting followed by and the fifth graders workshopping their own ideas. One lesson in and the budding writers from Valley View Elementary have already reviewed the basics of three-act structure and what makes us all love storytelling.

    The young writers devised an agreement detailing how the class will be run and what is expected from each of them (and their scripts). Next week’s class can’t come soon enough. Stay tuned!

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    March 12, 2015 • Acting • Views: 4511

  • Acting Grad & Instructor Team Up For One-Woman Show

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    emma mcwilliams

    We’re so proud to announce the upcoming production of mislabeledilEMMA: No, I Don’t Have Downs Syndrome, which will make its premiere at the 18th annual New York International Fringe Festival. The show not only features a one woman show written and performed by New York Film Academy AFA Acting graduate, Emma McWilliams, but was also developed and is directed by NYFA Associate Chair of Acting/Departmental Programming, Anne Moore. Moore’s theater credits include the Off-Broadway two woman show, Sit N’ Spin, at the world renowned Atlantic Theater. She also co-founded the critically acclaimed sketch comedy group, The Flying Queens and starred in, Anne Moore and more and more at Catch a Rising Star. Her TV/Film credits include Vegas, Grey’s Anatomy, Good Intentions, and more. She has also won an award for her documentary short film, Czech Daze.

    Her newest production, mislabeledilEMMA: No, I Don’t Have Downs Syndrome with Emma McWilliams is an autobiographical account of a quirky girl’s search for identity amidst the confusion of being told she’s “disabled.” She captivates all–transforming into over 20 different unique characters that help share her heartwarming story as she tries to understand her syndrome she was born with spontaneously: Nail Patella Syndrome.

    anne mooreNail Patella Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that occurs in 1 and 50,000 people. The most obvious symptoms are poorly developed fingernails and kneecaps. Other symptoms include: dysfunctional elbows, stiff joints, kidney failure, and glaucoma. Emma is the first in her family to have the syndrome, and her story deals with the issues of discrimination, gender equality, racism, religion, “fitting in”, and finding your identity. In the end, after many laughs and tears, you’ll learn what changed everything, as Emma learns that labels don’t matter.

    First and foremost, Emma wants the world to know that, “NO, SHE DOES NOT HAVE DOWN SYNDROME.” While attending NYFA, Emma’s knack for comedy and standup compiled with her unique look was clearly noticed, and she was encouraged by her former teacher (Moore) to create a one woman show—thus where the project began. Emma is said to be an upbeat quirky girl who will definitely spice up your life. She is a muffin with rainbow sprinkles, a cross between Amanda Plummer and Joan Cusack. She has a wide range that always keeps her having fun; “crazy asylum girl” on Teen Wolf and “the modest girl” on Ant Farm.

    Emma’s motto: “To inspire, impact, and entertain the human spirit—one stage, one theater, one seat at a time.”

    Please come out and support Emma and Anne in this wonderful show, which runs from August 8th-24th at Fringe NYC. For tickets or more information, CLICK HERE.

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    July 21, 2014 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4039

  • Master Class with Award-Winning Filmmaker & NYFA Grad Rob Hardy

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    Rob HardyAs part of the African Black Film Festival 2014, New York Film Academy graduate and highly successful filmmaker, Rob Hardy, will be holding a Master Class at the SVA Theatre in New York City on Saturday, June 21st from 4:30pm- 6:30pm.

    Rob Hardy, who is a 2014 NAACP Image Award nominee, broke into network television with his January 2007 directorial debut of the Emmy Award winning show ER. Soon after, Black Enterprise Magazine listed him among the Top 40 Entertainers under 40 for the year 2008. Since recently Executive Producing on Think Like A Man Too for Sony Pictures, Hardy has returned to television with directing stints on several shows including: Criminal Minds, Arrow, Castle, The Vampire Diaries, Bones, 90210, The Game, The Originals, Grey’s Anatomy, Being Mary Jane, Single Ladies, and Ravenswood.

    Hardy began his career as a high school Senior, with the camcorder-shot movie G-Man. While pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Florida A & M University, he made the leap to film with the low-budget motion picture Chocolate City. This experience earned him the institution’s highest honor, the Bernard Hendricks Student Leadership Award, and launched his company Rainforest Films. The underground buzz on the project soon led to his controversial film Trois. Hardy not only directed and co-wrote the thriller, he was also instrumental in self-distributing the project to be the fastest Independent African American film to pass the $1 million dollar mark. In 2003, after directing the critically acclaimed thriller Pandora’s Box, he added the role of “Producer” to his credits by collaborating with business partner Will Packer, to produce several movies including: Three Can Play that Game, Puff Puff Pass and Motives. 2004 saw penning an “untitled Usher” project for MTV Films. Hardy then wrote and directed the spiritually themed drama entitled The Gospel, and produced the companion Gospel Live!. His hard-earned success has garnered a 2006 “Best Screenplay” (Black Movie Awards) nomination. He then Executive Produced Stomp The Yard, which held the #1 position at the box office for two weekends in January of 2007 and received the 2007 Movie of the Year Award from the BET Hip Hop awards and later directed it’s sequel Stomp the Yard: Homecoming. Later, he created the Sprite Step off TV series for MTV 2 that placed a fraternity step competition into the reality TV space. A documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr’s life as a fraternity member called AlphaMan: The Brotherhood of MLK, soon aired.

    The Hollywood Reporter (December 2002) listed him amongst the New Establishment of Black Power Brokers. Florida A&M University awarded him with the Meritorious Achievement Award, which is the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus. After which he received the inaugural Woody Strode / Paul Robeson Award of Excellence from his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

    His company Rainforest Films, was listed as one of the Top 25 Money Makers in Entertainment (2007) by Black Enterprise Magazine and has gone on to produce feature films including: Ride Along, No Good Deed, This Christmas, Obsessed and Takers.

    Additionally, Hardy has directed commercial projects for clients, including: CNN, TBS (Turner Broadcasting), American Honda, Coca-Cola, Georgia Lottery and The National Cancer Institute. He serves on the Advisory Board for the International Feature Project (IFP) Film Lab series. He resides in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two sons.

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    June 12, 2014 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4689

  • NYFA Grad Releases New Book: ‘Notes From a Colored Girl’

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    Notes From Colored GirlNew York Film Academy graduate, Karsonya Wise Whitehead has recently released a book entitled, Notes from a Colored Girl: The Civil War Pocket Diaries of Emilie Frances Davis. In the book, Whitehead examines the life and experiences of Emilie Frances Davis, a freeborn twenty-one-year-old mulatto woman, through a close reading of three pocket diaries she kept from 1863 to 1865. Emilie’s world-views and politics, her perceptions of both public and private events, her personal relationships, and her place in Philadelphia’s free black community in the nineteenth century, are all explored. The diaries of Emilie Frances Davis is one of only a handful of resources written by a free black woman from the nineteenth century.

    Whitehead’s book was resoundingly endorsed by Harvard Professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “’To day has bin a memorable day. I thank God I have bin here to see it.’ So begins the pocket diaries of free black woman Emilie Davis of Philadelphia on the day of Emancipation at the midpoint of the Civil War. Her words also capture my feelings in seeing Davis’s diaries published under the expert eye of Karsonya Wise Whitehead, whose scholarly annotations not only set the scene but reveal how this ‘everyday’ domestic-dressmaker’s decision to record her thoughts at the critical hours of the African American journey was itself an emancipatory act.”

    Since graduating from NYFA, Dr. Karsonya Wise Whitehead is now an assistant professor of communication and African and African American studies in the Department of Communication at Loyola University Maryland; a Master Teacher in African American History for intermediate, secondary and college teachers; the 2007 Gilder Lehrman Preserve America Maryland History Teacher of the Year; and, a three-time New York Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker.

    In addition, she has been a featured speaker at the 2013 and 2014 White House Black History Month panels co-sponsored by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).

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    May 28, 2014 • Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5230