eric conner
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  • Art LaFleur is Guest Speaker at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) was thrilled to have actor Art LaFleur at the Los Angeles campus on Jan. 18, 2018, as a part of the Guest Speaker Series. LaFleur took part in a Q & A following a screening of “The Sandlot.” Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond, who was the cinematographer on the movie, was also in attendance. NYFA Senior Instructor Eric Conner hosted the evening.

    LaFleur is known as a prolific character actor whose career has spanned over 40 years. He’s shared the screen with Hollywood heavyweights like Sylvester Stallone and Kevin Costner, and played American heroes like Babe Ruth as well less heroic characters like Chick Gandil (first baseman for the infamous 1919 Chicago Whitesox).

    When asked about his career and his first major role, LaFleur credited his face — literally — with helping him get a start in the industry. At the time of his first role as Ivan in the made for TV movie “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island,” LaFleur had been taking acting classes for a couple of years but says there was no trick or tip that helped him land the role. He simply had the right look: “There were people in my acting class who were really good. They were wonderful, but they wouldn’t get arrested, whereas I have this mug. I don’t know. I just have this face.”

    One of LaFleur’s most memorable roles is his portrayal of Babe Ruth in the modern classic, “The Sandlot.” To prepare for his audition he studied The Babe’s life and mannerisms by reading autobiographies and watching interviews. Most importantly, he studied old tapes of Babe Ruth playing baseball and practicing Ruth’s mannerisms. He took note of how the legend stood with a bat in his hands and how he would walk to first base. The research paid off when his portrayal won over the film’s casting director.

    It was during the filming of “The Sandlot” that LaFleur met NYFA Cinematography Chair Tony Richmond, who spoke fondly of their brief time on set together.

    “Occasionally, you get to meet incredible people like Art,” said Richmond. “Even though he was on set for only a brief time, his role gave the film credence.”

    LaFleur jumped in explaining, “I get recognized for this film more than any other. It’s the best one-day job I’ve ever had.”

    In speaking of “The Sandlot,” Richmond and LaFleur brought up an old film adage: “Never work with water, children, or animals.” Richmond explained that producers try to avoid these three elements because they can’t be controlled. “The Sandlot” featured all three. There were multiple children in the cast. Two large dogs were brought in to play the junkyard dog. There was the famous swimming pool scene, where Squints pretends to drown so he can get a kiss from Wendy Peppercorn.

    Richmond, a father himself, suggests filmmakers should simply talk to child actors as if they are adults. “Then,” says Richmond, “They’ll behave like adults.”

    One student asked, “What’s the most difficult part of working with children?” According to our guest, the most challenging aspect by far is the tighter shooting schedule. Due to child labor laws the children on “The Sandlot” could only work eight hours a day, and three of those hours had to be dedicated to their education. These regulations make scheduling challenging. It is particularly challenging when every scene has a child in it.

    Another student asked the veteran actor and cinematographer for any advice on how, as an international actor with an accent, he might be able to get ahead in the American film industry? Richmond and LaFleur agreed that success comes from collaboration and networking, which is why film schools like NYFA are the perfect place to meet future business partners and collaborators.

    Richmond said, “I love teaching at NYFA. When I was getting started, four cinematographers really helped me out. You can’t do it without help.”

    LaFleur ended the evening with some advice to the actors in the audience. “If you are lucky enough to be cast in a film or on a television series the most important thing is to be sharp. Be on your game with the dialogue and everything else. And if they don’t talk to you, you’re doing fine.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Tony Richmond and Art LaFleur for taking the time to speak with our students.

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    January 30, 2018 • Academic Programs, Acting, Film School, Guest Speakers • Views: 1947

  • NYFA’s Eric Conner Honored at Burbank Leadership Program

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    New York Film Academy instructor and NYFA Podcast Host Eric Conner was recently honored as a graduate of the Burbank Leadership Program. The Mission of Leadership Burbank is to identify, educate, and motivate current and emerging leaders in Burbank to develop ideas and solutions that make Burbank a strong, sustainable and vibrant community.

    Conner recently stepped down as Dean to spend more time with his growing family. “This was something a little bit different. I wanted to serve the whole community not just a piece of it,” said Conner.

    eric conner

    As a citizen of Burbank, he began looking around and seeing an opportunities to connect more with the community. As VP of Education for the Temple Emanu El, he started building relationships with individual citizens. Conner MC’d the platinum anniversary, which included esteemed guests U.S. Representative Adam Shiff, Senator Anthony Portantino, Former Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes, and Councilman Bob Frutos.

    Leadership Burbank was, in essence, a class. I’ve taken classes once a month since September. The class was two-dozen people representing the Police Department, Fire Department, Clergy, local school district, and Salvation Army. A veterinarian, it’s a cross section of Burbank.

    burbank leadership

    “I think what they’re trying to do is cultivate the next batch of civil leaders. For me, since I grew up in Delaware, which is so small, it didn’t take much to get involved in things. Delaware has one congressman and my mother was his treasurer. She helped raise money for a retirement board while still working a full-time job.” Community Outreach runs in Conner’s blood.

    Classes were held all over town including the Burbank airport and churches in order to introduce members to key organizations in Burbank. “There are so many elements of an airport that you don’t think about until you’re in there,” Conner stated. A few years ago there was an accident at the airport. A plane skidded off the runway and through a gate. “We studied what changes were made to make the airport safer. I really liked that class.”

    Part of his leadership included building a Wellness Center for Burrow’s High School. “The Wellness Center is a place where high school students with mental health issues, gender identity issues, anxiety, or depression can congregate and seek help. The space is conducive to helping mental health victims through art therapy.”

    The New York Film Academy donated Summer Camp experiences to both the Emanu El 75th Anniversary Celebration and the Gala to support the Wellness Center. Conner was touched at the gesture. “This is something I sought on my own. To have NYFA to two separate organizations was really cool. The school’s been doing a lot to connect to the community.”

    Conner intends to use the lessons learned from this course to one day apply for a cabinet seat or chair a board in the near future. “Burbank has its foot in Mayberry. There are two VCR repair shops within walking distance of my house and they advertise themselves that way. Burbank Leadership is trying to push and expand Burbank. These are things I’ve started to think about after I became a homeowner here.”

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    May 31, 2017 • Faculty Highlights • Views: 2733

  • Congrats to our Degree Program Graduates in Los Angeles!

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    2012 graduates

    September 2012 MFA and AFA Filmmaking Graduates

    New York Film Academy Los Angeles September 2012 MFA and AFA Film Graduates gathered at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood, California dressed in cap and gown and walked on stage to receive their diplomas. Art Helterbran (Chair of the Filmmaking Department), Mike Civille (Dean of Academic Advising), Adam Finer (Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development), and Eric Conner (Dean of Students) spoke to the graduates, offering moving words of encouragement for the future. The Commencement Speaker, Harley Peyton (Producer and writer for television shows Twin Peaks and Dracula and feature films Bandits and Friends with Benefits), inspired the graduates with very practical advice for navigating the entertainment industry. Mr. Peyton was extremely surprised and touched when Eric Conner presented him with an Honorary MFA Degree in Producing from the New York Film Academy. Graduates and their family and friends assembled at Bugatta Supper Club afterwards for a fun celebration.

    acting graduates

    BFA, AFA, and MA Filmmaking and Acting Graduation in Los Angeles

    NYFA graduates from the September 2012 BFA Film and Acting, September 2012 MA Film, and March 2013 AFA Acting programs received their degrees during an exciting commencement ceremony at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood California. Dan Mackler (NYFA Los Angeles Director), Lynda Goodfriend (Acting Department Chair), Art Helterbran (Filmmaking Department Chair), and Adam Finer (Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development) presided on stage and spoke to the graduates, reminiscing of their time together and encouraging them to pursue their future careers with as much enthusiasm as they did their degrees. The Commencement Speaker, Yuri Lowenthal (one of the most prolific voice over actors in Hollywood and the voice of famed cartoon character Ben Ten), gave a rousing and entertaining address to graduates about the importance of constantly producing work and always finishing what you started. Family and friends in attendance erupted in applause and cheers when degrees were officially conferred upon the graduates and they threw their caps in the air.

    Master's Degree

    Master of Arts Filmmaking Degrees Conferred Upon NYFA Graduates

    On a beautiful day in Hollywood, California, NYFA Los Angeles Master of Arts Film graduates sharply dressed in cap and gown, walked the stage at the Harmony Gold Theater and received their diplomas in front of an audience of proud family and friends looking on. Dan Mackler (NYFA Los Angeles Director), Eric Conner (Dean of Students), Mike Civille (Dean of Academic Advising), Adam Finer (Chair of Industry Outreach and Professional Development), and Louis Fantasia (Dean of Faculty) were in attendance and addressed the graduates, congratulating them on their significant accomplishment and giving sage advice for the future. The Commencement Speaker, Maureen Milligan (who has produced for television shows such as One Tree Hill, Reign, and Eastbound and Down), spoke to the graduates about the importance of pursuing work that incites a spark of inspiration inside them, which coined as “alchemy.” Congratulations to these New York Film Academy Master of Arts Film graduates and the best of luck pursuing your dreams!

    Below is a list of all of our graduates:

    MFA in Filmmaking

    • Khaliel S. Abdelrahim
    • Siddhant Adlakha
    • Ao Ni MGL
    • David Betran
    • Luca Brinciottimf
    • Sharice Nicole Bryant
    • Gabriel Alicto Chavez
    • Bruce Sze Han Chen
    • ChunYu Chu
    • Massiel Leonor Cordero Núñez
    • Christiano Dias
    • Corinna Elwood
    • Daniel Chinweze Enenta
    • Badr Farha
    • Abhijit Gajwani
    • Aurélien Heilbronn
    • Matt James Hielsberg
    • Kuei-Chieh Hsu
    • Zhifan Huang
    • Kirill Iakimetc
    • Denise Ntombikayise Khumalo
    • Ruchi Kishore
    • Ji Li
    • Jiayi Liang
    • Shangyuan Liao
    • Jiaqi Lin
    • Di Liu
    • Miao Liu
    • Ivan Sergeyevich Lopatkin
    • Yiting Lyu
    • Utku Macuncu
    • Andrew John Messersmith
    • Yusuke Nagasaki
    • Daria Nazarova
    • Nigina Niyazmatova
    • Batuhan Ozbek
    • Kyle David Pavlin
    • Jeremy Paul Pelsinki
    • Laura Elisa Pérez Rebullén
    • Lingling Ruan
    • Michelle Sainz Castro
    • Maral Servat
    • Shaik Nazrin Shah Bin Abdul Rahim
    • Muhan Shen
    • Nuo Shi
    • Nathália Pereira Guerra Simões
    • Song Song
    • Anvita Sudarshan
    • Suleyman Suleymanoglu
    • Huanglizi Sun
    • Yu Sun (Max)
    • Yu Sun
    • Nicci Thompson
    • Chia Ying, Tsai
    • Sevgi Tumen
    • Javier Urtasun
    • Arturo Alejandro Vargas
    • Heran Wang
    • Jing Wen
    • Beixi Wu
    • Shuai Yang
    • Xi Yang
    • Bo Yao
    • Oxana V. Yatsenko
    • Yuki Yoshimatsu
    • Liping Yu
    • An Zhang
    • Xiaoyu Zhang
    • Yating Zhang
    • Zhang Yi
    • Difei Zhou
    • Gabriela Zogall

    AFA in Filmmaking

    • Ikem Mfon Chukwudifu
    • Diana Maritza Guerrero
    • JayRex Hale
    • Alejandro Kahuam Lopez
    • Ryan Kenny
    • Roman Kolesov
    • Denis Kulikov
    • Euphrasie Leloup
    • Victor Olea
    • Paul Renna
    • Reghis Reginauld F. Romero V
    • Petros Skevis

    BFA in Filmmaking

    • Abdullah Ahmed Badeeb
    • Ge Zhen
    • Yang Jin
    • Liu Jiaqi
    • Mukhomedzhan Ruslan
    • Vladislav Nikitin
    • Christopher Payne Medina
    • Natalia Sofia Raful Guzmán
    • Feiyang Sun
    • Lilian Teplan
    • Kuan Wang

    BFA in Acting

    • Xizi Chen
    • Kenneth Michael Huitt
    • Judith Morales Martinez
    • Gabriel Uzcategui
    • Maegan Christine Wilson

    AFA in Acting

    • Kelly W Auble
    • David Alanson Bradberry
    • Paulina Garcia Matar
    • Mario J. Lozano-Pacheco
    • Christin Muuli
    • Gabric Ramos
    • Samat Turgunbaev
    • Victoria Sage Watlington

    MA in Film & Media Production

    • Adeyemi Hafeez Adesoji
    • Meshari Abdullah B. Albarrak
    • Yiru Chen
    • Robin de Corbière
    • Alon Golan
    • Guanyu Hu
    • Yue Hu
    • Lili Huang
    • Sujith John
    • Veddaant P Joshi
    • Anqi Li
    • Xinyi Liu
    • Matias Azevedo Lovro
    • Khachatur Martirosyan
    • Takafumi Sakabe

    MA in Film & Media Production

    • Hagar Mostafa Ali
    • Abdullah Alrachid
    • Marija Apchevska
    • Emilio Sebastiano Caccetta
    • Valeriya Elenskaya
    • Mengxue Gu
    • Soraya Adeline Hajjaji
    • Eduardo Hidalgo Caballero
    • Yue Huang
    • Jin Ye
    • Zhen Li
    • Cunyang Liu
    • Adam Paul Marino
    • John McCain
    • Soni Mizrahi Tuvachi
    • Sandra Prieto Murcia
    • Carlos Rodriguez Izaguirre
    • Zhanbo Shang
    • Yichang Sun
    • Deniz Tokdemir
    • Wang Tian
    • Wang Ying
    • Zhixin Weng
    • Tianyi Wu
    • Liye Yan
    • Zijian Zhang
    • Yao Zhang
    • Yizhao Zhang
    • Ji Zhe

     

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    October 6, 2014 • Acting, Community Highlights, Filmmaking • Views: 5999

  • Final Hours of the Imagine Film Challenge

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    imagine film challenge

    The Imagine Film Challenge is in full swing. Team NYFA (aka The Broken Slates) – including over two dozen actors from NYFA – are 24 Hours away from exhibiting Deliver Us, and hopefully “delivering us” a win! NYFA and the other three schools were required to film part of their projects on the Convention floor of the Cable Show.

    In a moment of life imitating art, a potential real life protest march interfered with the Broken Slates filming their own protest march. The Convention Center is right next to the Staples Center, where the Clippers play. Right before game-time, there was supposed to be a massive protest rally against the owner of the team (in light of his recent ban from the NBA due to his racist comments). NYFA had to then scramble to find a new location to film their own protest rally, which in the end turned out to be larger than the real-life demonstration.

    The team continues to film and edit as this is written, all in preparation for tomorrow’s screening at the Convention Center. Among the judges is Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner!

    “I’m very proud of NYFA‘s team for their ambition and work ethic,” says Eric Conner. “And to all of our two dozen plus actors for being part of the project.”

    The final films will be broadcast on Shorts TV.

    imagine film challenge 2
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    May 1, 2014 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4015

  • NYFA Screens ‘The Monuments Men’ with Writer / Producer Grant Heslov

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    Grant Heslov NYFA

    Tova Laiter with Grant Heslov at a full house

    Grant Heslov, Academy Award winning Writer/ Producer (Argo) and George Clooney’s partner at Smokehouse, was the guest tonight at the New York Film Academy for a sneak preview of the upcoming SONY Pictures release The Monuments Men! Over 220 eager students participated in the Q&A, which was moderated by Producer Tova Laiter.

    One of the first questions on Tova’s mind was how the film came about. Grant, a very funny and charming speaker, told the students that, “I was traveling, forgot my book at the hotel, so I went to the airport bookstore. I really loved it. It was a story I’d never heard before and George (Clooney) and I decided to make it. You never know what you’re going to find in an airport!”

    When asked by Tova how he and Clooney met Grant described his college days. “It was the summer of my freshman year, when I was about 19. I took an acting class and George was in it. We’ve been friends ever since.”

    grant heslovGrant earned a BFA in Theater and Acting at USC and was an actor for 20 years. He feels that his education in acting has been a great base for much of the work he does in terms of writing and character, being on sets, and observing how it’s all done.

    A student asked Grant about the writing process and specifically about handling a writing block in the middle of a project. Grant admitted that writing is challenging. “The middle is always hard. I’m lucky that I write with a partner. You have to turn off your editor mind and just write whatever.”

    Steven, a student, asked Grant what drives him, especially now that he is an accomplished actor, writer and producer. “The desire to tell good stories is the drive.”

    Grant plays a doctor in The Monuments Men, although this was not planned. He told the story of a British actor whose wife went into labor and pulled out of the project at the last minute. George Clooney suggested Grant jump in and play the doctor. “I still have my SAG card,” he joked.

    Student, Marielle asked Grant about the responsibility involved in telling real stories, which he has done plenty of in recent film projects (Good Night and Good Luck, Argo, and now The Monuments Men). Grant explained, “We aren’t making docs or docu-dramas, but you try to stay true. In Good Night and Good Luck, for example, we had access to the newscasters as they were still around. In Argo, we stuck pretty close to the story except for the end. In this film, there were hundreds of Monuments Men. Then you are trying to piece it all together, and we changed the names so we can get into the flaws of the characters more.”

    Asked what were his biggest assets and obstacles in becoming a filmmaker, he joked that in both cases it was, “being an actor.”

    A student asked Grant what was his relationship with art and history as a storyteller. “I love art and I love history. I am interested in World War II –as it was a defining moment in history. I’m Jewish, and there is a connection.”

    Clearly Grant and George have a good system in place working together. He shared with the audience that all of their films have been produced and completed under budget. The Monuments Men finished $5 million under budget and they wrote it in 3-4 months.

    Finally, Grant told another comedic story about having a hard time naming their production company, Smokehouse Productions. He said that his and George’s office was directly across the street from the restaurant in Burbank, and that they used to go there to drink at the bar (It is also across the street from one of the NYFA buildings in Burbank). One day, George called him and suggested they name their production company after the restaurant.

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    February 3, 2014 • Guest Speakers • Views: 4911

  • Team NYFA Walking in LA

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    Drew Carey

    Drew Carey at AIDS WALK in LA

    On Sunday, October 13, dozens of staff, faculty and students from New York Film Academy joined a crowd of 25,000 for the 10K LA AIDS Walk. Since its inception in 1985, AIDS Walk Los Angeles has benefited AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), a service organization dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by HIV disease, reducing the incidence of HIV infection and advocating for fair and effective HIV–related public policy.

    This year, Drew Carey and the always-resplendent Richard Simmons helped rally the troops as thousands took to the streets and proved that people really do walk in LA. (And, in the process, raised more than $2 Million for APLA!)

    Braving early morning shuttles, road closures and the overwhelming desire to sleep in, Team NYFA made its presence known at AIDS Walk. Team co-captain Sara Blindauer led the charge while two-year-old Judah Conner pushed co-captain Eric Conner to reach the finish line. Thankfully, AIDS Walk’s volunteers enabled the team to go strong via water, snack bars, popsicles and Cheetos!

    With the help of star fundraising students like Amanda Vanucchi & Arndt Werling and the generosity of the school’s faculty & staff, New York Film Academy is one of the AIDS Walk’s top five fundraising Universities… and rising.

    To donate to our team (till Nov 8) or learn more about AIDS Walk, visit: http://awla2013.kintera.org/nyfa.

    ready to rock

    richard simmons

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    October 16, 2013 • Community Highlights • Views: 3981

  • Superheroes are Taking Over Hollywood (and I Feel Fine)

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     Eric Conner is the Chair of the Screenwriting Department for New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios – Los Angeles campus. With an MFA degree from USC School of Cinema and Television and a BA from UPenn, Eric is currently developing two TV pilots, a sci-fi feature, and trying to add to his collection of ironic snapshots with Stormtroopers. Feel free to email him at eric@nyfa.edu

    I often warn my students to avoid becoming “That Guy.” You know “That Guy.” He’s the one in the theater who complains about a director “crossing the 180 line” or using the wrong lens. He’s the one who LOUDLY critiques a movie in terms of “sequences” and “denouement.” Summer’s an especially difficult time for “That Guy” since the multiplexes are filled with Hollywood’s biggest, loudest, and franchise-iest products — though to be fair, there’s a Wes Anderson gem also playing in the theaters, but it’s on a screen smaller than your car. For my $14 (or $28 if you choose the couches and food service of iPic Theaters in Pasadena), I don’t watch a movie with a notebook or penlight. I go to the theaters simply to be transported.

    Sometimes it’s to the dark emotional wilderness of Into the Wild. Other times to see Kevin Bacon singlehandedly ignite the Cold War in X-Men: First Class. Please note: I’m pretty sure the Cuban Missile Crisis did not actually play out that way, especially since my own father was on one of the ships during those tense thirteen days in 1962. But that didn’t make me enjoy the scene any less. This likely goes back to why I work in the arts in the first place. Similar to many of my peers, I grew up on the films of Allen, Scorsese, Coppola, Ashby, Polanski, and Altman, and spent most of my college days working on one play or another. However, I also spent many hours in my native Delaware reading comics, Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and — please don’t hold it against me or my department — watching professional wrestling! Meaning that I’m equally transfixed by the damaged honesty of The Descendants as when the Hulk mops up the floor with Loki. In fact, my favorite line of dialogue this decade came out of Bruce Banner’s mouth just as he got his green on. (No spoilers here!)

    With The Avengers approaching Titanic-level grosses, we’re likely to see even more superhero films in the future. And I’m here to tell you that’s okay. Some of them will be stinkers (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider), but others will give us the same thrill that George Lucas unleashed in 1977 with one unforgettable opening shot. For every Daredevil, Elektra, or Green Lantern, there’s a Superman or Spiderman 2. I still think  Magneto’s unorthodox escape from his glass prison — featuring a poor guard with “too much iron in his blood” — is as cinematic as cinema can get. Hopefully, the screenwriters who are developing the next mega-budget superhero adaptations remember the wonder they felt as kids, flipping through the pages of The Flash. Or take a cue from Chris Nolan, who’s been treating Batman like part of the Godfather franchise.

    In fact, our writing department in Los Angeles has even begun to address this head-on by adding comic book writing and game design to our curriculum. Both of these mediums have provided some of the greatest modern writing around. As long as there’s money to be made and stories to be told, Hollywood will continue to look for new films from these existing properties. Some films will anger the aforementioned “That Guy.” But other films will sweep him up in their worlds and remind him why he came to film school in the first place. If you want to discuss this with me, I can be found at either the Ahmanson touring production of War Horse or the opening weekend of Dark Knight Rises

    Eric Connor in a tiff with Darth Vader.

    Learn more about NYFA’s screenwriting program. Click here for more info! 
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    June 14, 2012 • Academic Programs, Screenwriting • Views: 6453