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  • NYFA Gold Coast Campus Hosts Casting Director Ben Parkinson & Actor Joey Vieira

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    Ben Parkinson (left) and Joey Vieira (right) speak to NYFA students at the NYFA Gold Coast campus.

    Ben Parkinson (C.S.A), casting director on “Jungle” with Daniel Radcliffe, “The Shallows” featuring Blake Lively, and Australian feature “Don’t Tell,” along with actor and casting assistant Joey Vieira, offered their insight into the world of entertainment to eager acting for film students of the New York Film Academy Gold Coast during a Q&A session on Friday, May 19.

    Mr. Parkinson has been casting for over 17 years with major experience in various facets of the industry. He has worked in New York, Los Angeles and Australia-wide on major motion pictures, indie films, local and international television commercials, and music video clips. Ben’s unique eye for casting and his compassion for each project has made him one of Australia’s most highly accomplished casting directors.

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    Mr. Vieira, a California native with over 20 years experience in acting, relocated to Australian in 2014. His career has include roles on Channel 7’s mini-series “Hoges,” “Illusion V,” “Texas Rising,” “The Simpsons,” “The Shield” and “Kitchen Confidential,” as well as feature films “San Andreas” and “Jungle.”

    Hosting a comprehensive presentation to students, Parkinson and Vieira provided invaluable insider knowledge of the industry.

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    NYFA Australia acting for film student Ethann S. says of the session: “I had fun, had a laugh and learnt some interesting things … The boys helped with my question regarding contracts with a possible agent and negotiating … I definitely felt like I got something out of today. And hopefully the next time I see them it’s in the audition room.”

    Fellow student Danni-Elle C. added her thanks “for the opportunity … it was super informative.” 

    The New York Film Academy Australia would like to thank Ben Parkinson and Joey Vieira for taking the time to speak with our students. 

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    June 26, 2017 • Academic Programs, Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 3529

  • With Diverse Casting on the Rise, Some Question Quotas

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    The cast of EmpirieThere is little doubt that the television landscape drastically changed this past season due to a vast increase in non-Caucasian actor-led shows such as How To Get Away With Murder, Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, Jane The Virgin, and Empire, all of which have done well to phenomenal, especially in the case of Empire, which has increased its audience every week it’s been on the air since debuting in January.

    Casting agents are now seeing a sea change in the demand for non-white actors, which is a complete 180 degree turn from past seasons when talent agents would call up casting directors to ask them to consider using a non-white actor for a role, only to be rejected.

    However, rather than letting the diversification of television play out in an organic, color-blind fashion, many shows have been specifically designating roles as non-white, leading one talent agent to speculate that nearly 50% of the roles in pilots now need to be racially diverse. This has led some to decry the new measures as catering more to quotas than casting the actors that deserve the part the most.

    This change has been most evident in the broadcast drama pilot department as more pilots than ever before have leads that have been written for African-American actors. Meanwhile in the sitcom world, following last year’s breakout success of Black-ish, ABC has two black family pilots in the worlds, including Delores & Jermaine and Uncle Buck, a television adaptation of the 80s comedy feature hit that starred John Candy, with Mike Epps taking over the titular role.

    While this certainly a reversal of fortunes for many young actors fresh out of acting school and part of a trend students at NYFA have certainly been witness to—NBC recently visited the Academy’s Union Square to promote its efforts to hire more diverse talent—some are worried that if many of these shows fail to perform next season, the pendulum of diversity on screen might swing back to a landscape where non-white actors once again will face enormous difficulty in landing television roles.

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    March 25, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4122

  • Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy Lead Ghostbusters Reboot

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    The new ghostbusters cast

    After months of speculating about who would be starring in director Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters reboot, the director himself revealed his future ‘busters in a simple Tweet yesterday that displayed pictures of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon. The announcement shows Feig, who’s carved out a profitable niche at the box office with his female-led comedies, re-joining with his Bridesmaids star Wiig and McCarthy, who also was in the film alongside the more recent The Heat.

    While McCarthy had long been considered a likely lock for the film as Feig had indicated as such, the rest of the cast came as a bit of a surprise in its SNL-heaviness—besides Jones and McKinnon being current members of the show, Wiig is a veteran cast member and McCarthy is a frequent host. What has most surprised industry insiders is that this will be both McKinnon’s and Jones’ first leading roles in a big budget film, showing a strong vote of confidence on behalf of Feig. However, it should be remembered that the original Ghostbusters cast was also packed with SNL cast members such as Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray.

    The movie is set to start shooting this summer and although The Holly Reporter indicates that Wiig, Jones, and McKinnon are still in negotiations, the fact that Feig made the announcement himself makes the casting seem all like a done deal.

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    January 28, 2015 • Entertainment News • Views: 4591

  • NYFA Los Angeles Filmmaking Grad Launches Online Casting Website

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    Talent MENA

    MFA Filmmaking graduate, Mohamed Koaik, from New York Film Academy in Los Angeles, has recently launched an online casting website Talent MENA for the Middle East & North African region (MENA). It is the first of its kind. Unlike other casting websites in the area, where filmmakers, casting directors or content creators in general can only cast for talent on those sites and use other means to find crew, specially for low budget productions, Talent MENA allows users to list his or her project for talent casting calls and also list crew jobs under the same project.

    Mohamed started the site after leaving NYFA and relocating back to Dubai in 2012. “Since the launch, we have been getting a lot of positive feedback from the industry,” says Koaik. “Back in December, we set up a booth at the Dubai International Film Festival to educate the public and promote the business module. In this short period (less than a year), we have over 1,200 subscribers and it’s growing everyday!”

    Below is a tutorial video on how to use the site.

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    April 1, 2014 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4892

  • Head of Casting for Paramount Pictures Gives Advice to NYFA Acting Students

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    Joseph Middleton

    Joseph Middleton

    Tuesday night, Producer Tova Laiter brought us Casting Director Joseph Middleton to Warner Bros Theater 4 and we had yet another full house of New York Film Academy students. Middleton is one of the most celebrated and established casting directors in the United States. He began his career casting for ensembles, so that the films he worked on would garner more attention. He was an independent Casting Director for years after starting out in the business and is currently the Executive of Casting at Paramount Pictures. Middleton is always on the look out for undiscovered talent, and has an uncanny ability to spot the next big thing. Some of his most recognized credits include Old School, American Pie, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Bring It On and Legally Blonde.

    Joseph says casting is often about looking for organic, truthful and talented performances. He also talked about the “3rd eye” — a gift that you likely either have or you don’t have when it comes to spotting talent.

    He playfully compared casting to the culinary arts, saying it’s like looking at different flavors and styles. He admitted he had had some luck with his career and how one project leads to another, but stressed that one must really stay on top of their game in order to stay relevant. You need to be constantly looking for talent, watching films and plays, seeing what is out there.

    Joseph accidentally fell into casting. He went to American University to study International Relations and had a dream of going into the service as a secret agent. He came out during his college years and admitted that being gay wasn’t exactly conducive to the culture of the service at the time. Someone suggested he take a gig as an assistant accountant on the film Mississippi Burning and off he went. One day he found himself telling the Director Alan Parker that he thought someone looked “too contemporary” for a scene in the film. Parker told him he had “a keen eye.” From there, the career of a Casting Director was born.

    So what is it that Joseph is looking for?

    “I may be looking for something specific, but if the actor can make me pick their view or vision, then that might be it. Guide yourself toward the Casting Director’s tone, and if you have done your homework, you know what that is.”

    Deal-breakers or examples of such are when actors come in to audition and do not pay attention to what feedback they are getting from the Casting Director. Also, having good energy is quite important, Joseph notes. And don’t try to read the room too much – focus on your job – acting!

    How can an actor get discovered with no real credits or an agent?

    “Don’t wait, create something! Make content, build your reel, develop it if you have to. Nowadays it’s all about having footage or ‘tape’.” Joseph also advised students to get a good headshot that “really looks like you.” Attach video to anything online and figure out WHAT IT IS THAT YOU SELL!

    Any advice for minorities trying to break into the acting business?

    “We just had a ‘China Week’ at the studio. China is a big market for Hollywood studios and I’m always looking for Chinese actors who speak English. The movies are now global and the opportunities are there, but it is not the accent that is the problem, but the diction (so the audience can understand you). Focus on what you have and can offer. If you are young, beautiful and athletic, work on those skills, because stars (like Tom Cruise) often prefer actors who can do their own stunts/ action.”

    Can you give actors some general advice?

    1. Stay healthy – set hours are long and you must be fit for all that work!
    2. Educate yourself in the craft, take classes
    3. Know content, watch films and plays!
    4. Learn letter-writing skills and remember that people like sincerity
    5. Keep your energy good, loosen up if needed
    6. Remember the assistants and associates in the business and BE NICE to them!

    Overall, Joseph was a truly great speaker: informative, sincere and fun.

    Joseph Middleton with Tova Laiter

    Joseph Middleton with Tova Laiter

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    December 12, 2013 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 17537

  • Advice From a Hollywood Talent Manager

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    susan zachary

    Talent Manager Susan Zachary was our guest last night, arriving to a packed crowd of students in the Welles screening room at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. The moderator was Producer Tova Laiter, who just so happened to bring Susan to NYFA.

    Susan started out working at a number of different jobs, including public relations, advertising for film, and working within the studios. From there, she produced several films. Then, about 11 years ago, she founded her own management company, where she definitely seems to have found her niche.

    As a manager, Susan deals with the clients, talent, producers and goes through the breakdowns, which is a key element in the Hollywood casting process. “The management business is secure and predictable, compared to the life of an independent film producer.” said Susan. “It’s all about selling! Whether it’s a network or studio – when pushing talent – you’re always essentially in sales.

    So what makes a great manager? “An honest, communicative and persistent one. We always hear NO – a lot of reasons why an actor does not potentially work – so it all comes back to selling.

    In regards to what exactly managers look for in a client, Susan said, “We are very selective. You should ideally have a body of work, a reel, a resume, and be SAG eligible.” When asked by a student if there were any exceptions to this, as far as taking on new talent, she told the students that managers go to “The Leagues” (acting school showcases) every year, and on rare occasion 1-2 people will get signed.

    She was realistic about the hardships of getting picked up by a manager without lots of experience, but also stressed how perseverance is key and encouraged the students to love, practice, and hone the craft of acting. Most importantly, find ways to make yourself stand out.

    zacharysHere are some great tips she provided for our students:

    • Join casting director workshops
    • Make a reel
    • If you don’t have content for a reel, create it!
    • Do the ‘work’ – take acting classes!
    • Don’t sit around and wait
    • Treat acting like a job
    • Get recommended by someone
    • Show ingenuity
    • Make yourself marketable for the manager and be creative about it

    Susan also stressed the importance of making and maintaining good relationships in the business. In the literary world, it’s important to be cooperative (take notes and directions when asked to change scripts) and the same goes for actors as well. While actors can get away with more undesirable behavior if they have pure talent, it is rare these days because of the state of the economy. Her final words of advice, “Auditioning is a job! You must treat it like one.

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    August 15, 2013 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 14147

  • Tips From a Commercial Talent Agent

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    Jennifer Boyce, the head of the Commercial Talent Department at The Savage Agency for 22 years, spoke to more than 60 acting students in the Welles Screening room at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. The Savage Agency has been one of the top agencies for young talent – from ages 3 to 40 – for over 35 years. They represent actors for theatrical, voice over, and commercials.

    Here are some of the facts that she feels are important for new talent to know:

    1. Having an awesome photo is important! If you are not known to the Casting Director, they have no imaginations. Have several pictures with different looks. Once the Casting office gets to know you, they will have an idea of your type.
    2. Be a “CAN DO” client. Jennifer said, “I work for free until you work, so if I worked for a year for you to finally get a job, that’s one day’s work. You will earn $627.00 at scale for a commercial. I will make $62.70. So I don’t make money unless you make it. So I want clients to work. If I make a suggestion you should pay attention to that. You have to show me you are passionate about this.”
    3. An audition is not a pedicure appointment. You have to really want it. If you don’t there are lots of others who do. Every audition is an opportunity! When you are starting out, you should be willing to do everything.
    4. Don’t just rely on your agent. Don’t just sit by the phone and wait, complaining that your agent isn’t doing anything for you. “I make 10%, so I always say I will do 10% of the work, but you have to do 90%. I get you in the door, but after that the rest is up to you.” It’s important to create your own work – be in plays, improv groups, get yourself out there.
    5. If something is not working, don’t blame your agent, look to yourself.
    6. At the end of the day your job is to audition. Some actors hate the casting process. Get used to it. They might pick somebody because they look like their sister or girlfriend, but that is what happens. You can’t control what they are looking for, but you can control what you do in the room. If you’re getting callbacks, you are doing your job. If you don’t get the job, it’s not on you. You can’t get involved in the politics. That’s the only way you can enjoy being in the business.

    CA1A5857The audience had many questions for her, including the following:

    Q: How do you choose new clients?
    A: I usually choose through referral. If it’s not a referral, I go off picture and resume submission. I look for a GREAT picture, lots of training, improv groups, Second City and Groundlings. A lot of commercials are improv and funny, so those skills are especially important to me.

    Q: How many head-shots should I have?
    A: Have one good headshot to get you to see the agent. But don’t spend a lot of money on it, because most likely your agent will want you to get new ones. Every agents has different taste. A theatrical headshot is different – you need one great one. For commercials, you should have several looks that show different types that you can play.

    Q: What do you look for in a headshot?
    A: For commercials, I look for a headshot to be well lit. I want it to “pop” and see what role you’re going to play.

    Q: How easy is it to get Non-SAG actors into auditions?
    A: It’s getting harder to get commercials for non-union actors. A production company has to write an “essay” about why they need to use you for a union production, and if they don’t have a good reason, they will be fined $750. Casting has become more competitive so the Casting Director is not as willing to bring in non-union actors anymore because of this. They are more likely to call in names and their heavy hitters that they know. So new actors have a harder time getting in. Not everyone gets in to every audition – no matter who they are.

    Q: What about sending candy or gifts to an agent in order to get a meeting?
    A: I never open anything from anyone I don’t know. Better to send a postcard. A postcard is a very nice way to introduce yourself, and I can see it without opening anything.

    NYFA thanks Jennifer for taking the time out to provide invaluable advice for our acting students. Her final words of advice could not be more helpful, “Be grateful and thankful for every opportunity you get.”

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    July 25, 2013 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 41559

  • NYFA Alum Raises 70k For First Feature

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    Abigail Schwarz and Nicola Scandiffo

    New York Film Academy alumni, Abigail Schwarz, will be shooting her first feature film, Those Who Wander. The independent comedy, written and directed by Schwarz, is about growing up, growing apart and getting lost along the way. The project recently raised $70,000 through Kickstater and is gearing up for production. Signed on to the project thus far are producer Nicola Scandiffio, executive producer James Frey (Bestselling Author, A Million Little Pieces), cinematographer Elisha Christian (Save the Date), casting director Adrienne Stern (ASC Casting), Emmy Award Winning actress Anna Holbrook, and countless others.

    Abigail is currently still casting and looking for crew in NYC and LA, and the project is part of the SAG Ultra Low Budget Indie Agreement for low budget feature films.

    If you would like to be involved in the film in any context, please contact wanderproduction@gmail.com.

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    July 22, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5341

  • New York Film Academy’s Top 5 Robert De Niro Acting Roles

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    Roger Del Pozo is the Director of Acting Admissions at the New York Film Academy. In addition to his work at NYFA, he has also been a casting director in New York for the last 10 years. In that time he has cast hundreds of television commercials, as well as films, plays, voice overs, video games, music videos and industrials for many of the top casting companies and advertising agencies in New York.

    1. MEAN STREETS — The original! De Niro’s first movie with Martin Scorsese is certainly one of his best. Johnny Boy jumps off the screen with such vitality and menace that it seems almost “too real” to be simply called a performance. Both hysterical and frightening, De Niro created a character that set the precedent for gritty, urban performances.  Some may argue he defined American acting from the 1970’s forward.
    2. TAXI DRIVER — De Niro’s iconic role is memorable for so many reasons. The delivery, the transformation, the impact on popular culture… The mohawk! Travis Bickle was immortalized as “God’s Lonely Man”. He frightens because he is so effortlessly real. Nothing about this character feels like a performance. De Niro famously drove a night-shift cab for months to prepare for this role. It shows. We don’t doubt him for a minute. Who can look at cabbies the same way again after watching this? 
    3. RAGING BULL — Of course the famous weight gain is impressive. Everything else about this powerhouse performance, however, also shines. De Niro won his first Best Actor statute portraying the troubled pugilist Jake LaMotta, and he definitely deserved it. The fight scenes are some of the most realistic ever filmed. Most importantly, he humanizes a man with very few redeeming qualities. A classic in every way.
    4. THE GODFATHER 2 — De Niro had huge shoes to fill playing the young version of Vito Corleone, a role made famous by his hero Marlon Brando. He didn’t disappoint. Winning his first Academy Award, he spoke entirely in Sicilian which he learned for the role. De Niro portrays a young Don driven by his need for power and revenge. It’s a study in quiet strength and menace. Undoubtedly, this role solidified De Niro as an actor for the ages. 
    5. GOODFELLAS — De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese once again. As the leader of career gangsters, he is chillingly and darkly hilarious. One of my all time favorite films, this film would’ve sunk without De Niro’s performance. Jimmy Conway is so vibrant and memorable that De Niro has parlayed his later career playing a version of this role in subsequent roles. 
    Do you agree with Roger? Give us your thoughts. Moreover, don’t forget to learn more about the acting program here.
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    March 8, 2012 • Acting • Views: 1880