comedy
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  • A Standing Ovation for Jonah Hill at NYFA

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    Jonah Hill with Tova Laiter

    Jonah Hill with Tova Laiter

    Jonah Hill has come a long way from his brief comedic appearance in the The 40 Year Old Virgin, to his Oscar nomination in Moneyball. His comedic presence and timing puts him at the top of his class, and yet his transition into more dramatic roles has been something to marvel. This week, the New York Film Academy was thrilled when Mr. Hill came in to speak with students and alumni. As a testament to his comedic timing, Jonah started the evening shouting,”I’m here! I’m here already!” as Eric Conner, the Dean of Students, introduced the actor who had already been sitting in the back of the room.

    Jonah was in high spirits throughout the night, quickly acknowledging his true passion in life – making movies. He feels it’s what he’s been put on this Earth to do, and he encouraged the crowd to aggressively pursue filmmaking if they feel the same. “This business is so weird,” said Jonah. “If this isn’t the only thing you want to do in life, then leave the room and don’t do it. But if this is the only thing you want to do in life and can’t imagine doing anything else, then don’t worry about how much time it’s taking. It will happen in whatever incarnation it’s supposed to happen. But you have to just ‘make stuff’ constantly and don’t worry about ‘making it.'”

    At a young age, Jonah wanted to direct, but says he was really bad in giving directions to actors. So, he took acting classes to find out how an actor would want to be given direction. As a result, he fell in love with acting as well. He studied Meisner in school, but admits he now uses a variety of techniques that vary from film to film. He also likes to improv, as long as it’s about the character and not to be funny. Jonah recalled his improved scenes with Martin Scorsese in The Wolf of Wall Street. “It’s so cool that new stuff can happen, that no one knew about ever, and that makes the reactions real – because they’re hearing it for the first time.”

    In regards to the challenges he faces as an actor, Jonah said, “I think the most challenging part of being an actor comes from the days where something really bad is happening in your personal life. Let’s say some death or breakup or friendship thing – some personal thing that’s going on outside of work – and you have to show up that day and act and give your performance like none of that is happening.”

    His journey through Hollywood grew as he managed to maintain friendly working relations with so many talented artists, namely Judd Apatow, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen. “You find the people who you’re creatively in tune with.”

    Like most people, Jonah recognized how some would have assumed he, being the comedy guy, would be an odd casting choice as the second dramatic lead next to Brad Pitt in Moneyball. Typically, once you’ve successfully done one thing in Hollywood, most people will push you to do the same thing over and over. But, for Jonah, it’s important to make all kinds of movie. “I think I’m a product of two things: The Simpsons and Goodfellas.” The Simpsons encouraged his taste in comedy and Goodfellas, the other side of things.

    While admitting he was nervous talking about himself, Jonah was very appreciative of being able to speak in front of our students and his positive rapport was undeniable after closing on a standing ovation. He’s currently writing a movie that he plans on directing next year. His new movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, will be out in theaters on November 15.

    standing ovation

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    August 21, 2013 • Guest Speakers • Views: 9198

  • Disney Star Sierra McCormick Speaks to NYFA High School Students

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    sierra3

    This summer, the New York Film Academy summer camp students in Los Angeles were treated to a special guest appearance by Disney star, Sierra McCormick. We screened the most recent episode of her Disney Channel show, A.N.T. Farm, which is a huge hit with the tweens!

    Sierra became interested in acting at the age of 8 years old, when she took an acting class at her school. Her acting teacher saw something in her and got the ball rolling from there. She landed her first role on the TV show, ‘Til Death. Now, at the age of fifteen, she’s already appeared in TV and film, with genres varying from comedy to more darker, dramatic roles.

    “Working within the Disney family has been great!” said Sierra. “They treat you very well and really accommodate you.” She started with a small role in Disney’s Hannah Montana and is very fond of the character she plays on A.N.T. Farm, the super smart Olive.

    When asked by a high school student, Lulu, what her favorite film genre is, Sierra answered, “Cerebral movies: including comedies, dramas, horror, and foreign films.” Pretty diverse for a young mind. She added that she likes roles that are challenging, empathetic, different from her real self – she loves strong female characters. In regards to auditioning, she says it’s very important for her to memorize lines, so that she is not distracted, and can focus on the acting. To calm her nerves, she’s changed her attitude, realizing, “I have nothing to lose.”

    Being such a young actress, Sierra must balance her career and education. “It’s my main goal to go to a good college.” She gave example of plenty of “cool actresses” that have done so, such as Natalie Portman and Claire Danes.

    With wit and poise, Sierra shows definitive signs of maturity. Her time away from the camera is primarily composed of “doing regular things” and surrounding herself with “grounded people.” Something that is dearly needed with a girl in her position. Sierra closed with these wise words of advise, “Don’t let yourself slip away. Hold onto yourself and your beliefs.”

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    August 7, 2013 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 8522

  • NYFA Alum Raises 70k For First Feature

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    Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.28.06 PM

    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: 5615

  • Larry David Is a Pretty, Pretty Funny Writer

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    We’re wishing Larry David a happy birthday, even though he hates The Happy Birthday Song. The man wouldn’t even sing for Ben Stiller. Like most things in life, it’s a whole “to do.” This is essentially the core of Larry’s humor. His witty observations about the nuances of life and rules of society are the basis for arguably two of the best comedy programs ever made. Seinfeld, which he co-created with Jerry Seinfeld, revolutionized the sitcom. At a time when sitcoms were churning out an A story and a short B story, Larry was packing in four intertwined character arcs into one episode. Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine were integral parts of each episode. If you dissect individual episodes, you would find that a lazier show runner could have easily created four whole episodes out of one show. Each of those episodes would still be funny, but that’s not Larry’s style. This is what puts Larry above the rest. His show will forever be a part of popular culture. One can compare everyday situations to episodes of Seinfeld, as if the show was a handbook for life. Even quoting Seinfeld is a part of life for some. Here are some of the more popular phrases from the show, in case you’ve been living under a rock.

    After Seinfeld, Larry was given a little more freedom with his own HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Again, breaking barriers. His loose, single camera improv approach to comedy was refreshing and new. We no longer needed the three camera sets and canned laughter to let us know when it was safe to laugh. Plus, Larry brings himself in front of the camera, and he’s actually “pretty, pretty” good at it. The plots and subplots of the episodes are established in an outline written by David and the dialogue is almost all improvised. Much like Seinfeld, the subject matter in Curb Your Enthusiasm often involves the intricacies of daily life and problems of a conventional society. Larry David always has the need to express his feelings of such problems, which almost always leads him into awkward situations. The situations range from absurdity to pure bad luck, and yet we somehow relate. Check out some of these hilarious moments from the show.

    After eight seasons of Curb and nine seasons of Seinfeld, there’s no telling where Larry can go next. One thing we can tell you, is the man has made quite a pretty penny on his brilliant comedy creations. But, his unique character can never be swayed by money. He is a true individual with an unmistakable personality that can only be, Larry David.

    Tweet us your favorite moments from Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm @NYFA!

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    July 2, 2013 • Acting • Views: 7640