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  • Masters of Game Design Series: Bill Roper Talks Games With NYFA

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    On April 8, 2020,  video game industry legend Bill Roper talked with NYFA’s Scott Rogers as part of the Masters of Game Design speaker series.

    Roper discussed his career at Blizzard Entertainment, starting with him creating music and performing as a voice-over actor for the hit game Warcraft.

    Video game designer Bill Roper

    Roper chronicled his rise to creative director, leading the teams for Diablo and Starcraft. He discussed starting his own company, Flagship Entertainment, and creating Hellgate: London. Roper also talked about his time as Vice-President at Disney Interactive, guiding the teams for Disney Infinity and Fantasia: Music Evolved. He talked about his recent transition to Chief Creative Officer at AuthorDigital/Adept Games. Roper also took questions from the Zoom audience.

    ‘Hellgate: London’

    A recording of this talk will be available at a future date. To learn more about upcoming Masters of Game Design speakers, please join the NYFA Game Mentor Network at Meetup.com. For more on NYFA’s School of Game Design, click here

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    April 13, 2020 • Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 119

  • Editor at Large for Special Projects at ‘TIME’ Paul Moakley and Magnum Photos’ Moises Saman Lead Discussion with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Photography Students

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    On Friday, February 7, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted, along with Magnum Photos and Mana Contemporary, Magnum Photos photographer Moises Saman and Editor at Large for Special Projects at TIME Magazine, Paul Moakley. Both presented highlights from their body of work at NYFA’s New York campus and screened TIME Magazine’s documentary short, The Capital Gazette Won’t Be Silenced 1 Year Later, which was directed and shot by Saman, and produced by Moakley.

    Moises Saman, a member of Magnum Photos, began his career at Newsday, covering the fallout of the 9/11 attacks. Throughout his career, he spent most of his time in the Middle East, shooting monumental moments of conflict like the Iraq War, the Arab Spring, and the Syrian Civil War. “As a journalist, I’m a product of the time I’m living in,” he said when asked about his professional career and motivation for visual storytelling.

    Saman opened the discussion by recounting the start of his career in the newspaper industry. “It meant working really fast,” he says, emphasizing the constant deadlines and, at times, the personal sacrifice it took to get a story out. He then went on to describe how engulfed in his work he had become as a photojournalist, being constantly on the road 12 months out of the year. That kind of dedication, however, produced his stunning photographs capturing moments in time, like an image of a boy with a hunting rifle running through a sandstorm or another image he displayed of a man taming an Arabian horse, looted from one of Saddam Hussien’s palaces in Baghdad.

    Moises Saman (Left) and Paul Moakley (Right) speak with the audience | Photo courtesy of Cecilia Collantes, Magnum Photos

    Saman also discussed developing a professional relationship with Paul Moakley. Moakley, Editor at Large for Special Projects at TIME Magazine has managed TIME’s visual coverage of breaking news, presidential elections and key franchises such as TIME’s Person of the Year and TIME 100 for the past decade. Moakley was always interested in Saman’s work, but it took both of them at least 20 years until they ended up actually working together.

    Moakley opened up to the audience about how the professional relationship between himself and Saman evolved over the years from photographer and editor to producer and director. “It is incredibly cool when we work together,” he says, “it’s not a transaction, it’s a relationship.”

    Moakley, who recently worked with climate activist Greta Thunberg for the TIME’s Person of The Year for 2020, recalled when he asked Saman to shoot the TIME Person of the Year cover for 2018. This particular assignment meant Saman having to fly 30,000 miles around the world to shoot 18 people for 4 covers. This was the year TIME profiled “The Guardians and the War on Truth,” acknowledging slain reporter Jamal Khashoggi, imprisoned reporters Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone, Rappler founder Maria Ressa, and the entire staff of the Capital Gazette.

    Saman recalls meeting each person he photographed saying, “for me, the people on these covers, especially the two women (the wives of the two imprisoned reporters), had experiences I related to. It was an intimate experience for me.”

    Moakley and Saman then screened their documentary short about The Capital Gazette reporters one year after the shooting that plagued their newsroom and took the lives of five of their colleagues. Moakley and Saman recalled that this experience, for them, required the utmost amount of trust and time to cultivate the relationship with the paper. To this day, The Capital Gazette has not let any other outlet other than TIME profile them on such a personal level.

    New York Film Academy thanks Magnum Photos, Moises Saman and Paul Moakley for taking the time to share their knowledge, expertise, and experience with students and guests of NYFA.

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    March 9, 2020 • Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 1247

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes ‘John Wick’ Creator Derek Kolstad

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    Derek Kolstad, creator and writer of the iconic action franchise starring Keanu Reeves, John Wick, spoke with students at New York Film Academy (NYFA) at a special event on Tuesday, October 15, moderated by Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series.

    Derek Kolstad penned the original screenplay for John Wick, which has become Lionsgate’s most profitable franchise with two sequels, a VR game, a mobile game, and a probable third sequel, as well as executive producing a planned scripted TV adaptation that Kolstad is executive producing and a comic book series that he is consulting on.

    Derek Kolstad

    Additionally, Kolstad most recently wrapped as a co-executive producer on the highly-anticipated Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier for Marvel Studios.

    Following a screening of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Laiter opened up the Q&A by asking Kolstad how he got his start in the business and how that led to his success as a screenwriter. “I started to write screenplays since I was 13,” Kolstad began, continuing, “when I didn’t even know the format. I wrote and filed it. I became a salesman and then one day, it was 2000, I drove out to LA and I got noticed right away.”

    He added, “I wrote a script called Acolyte and I got a manager and did two direct-to-DVD movies that were an ungodly challenge. I was going to walk away and one producer on that project introduced me to managers Mike Goldberg and Josh Adler, who are still my reps, and they saved me.”

    Speaking of his inspiration for creating the series, Kolstad shared, “When I wrote John Wick, I was writing a love letter to the movies I loved. I wrote that initial screenplay in three days, the second draft in two weeks, sold it in February, and we went into production that November. So when you think of overnight success, I know I’m blessed, but I worked hard and long to get to that point.” 

    Derek Kolstad

    Laiter also asked Kolstad about the moment when John Wick clicked for him. Kolstad answered, “John Wick was just me suddenly going, ‘I’m going to stop trying to be who I’m not and just embrace what I love.’” 

    The Q&A was then opened up to student filmmakers, where Kolstad was asked how the John Wick franchise stood out from other action movies in the market. Kolstad credited the success to the importance of character relationships, saying, “A good movie, regardless of genre, is a good movie. It comes down to the character and their relationships, and the audience wanting to be a part of that character’s life.”       

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Derek Kolstad for joining us and sharing his expertise with our students!

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    October 17, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Screenwriting • Views: 1741

  • New York Film Academy Australia Welcomes Academy Award Winner Ben Osmo to Gold Coast Campus

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    On Thursday, August 22, New York Film Academy Australia (NYFA-AU) hosted a master class with former NYFA-AU instructor and Academy Award winner Ben Osmo.

    Osmo, a sound recordist and mixer, is known for his work on films including Dead Calm (1989), Strictly Ballroom (1991), Alien: Covenant (2017), and Peter Rabbit (2018). His work on 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road earned him the Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing at the 88th Academy Awards, which he shared with Chris Jenkins and Gregg Rudloff.

    Ben Osmo Gold Coast

    Speaking at length with NYFA-AU students at the Gold Coast campus in an intimate setting, Osmo shared the knowledge he gained over a career of almost 30 years in the sound industry and that includes an Oscar and 13 other award wins and nine nominations.

    Osmo began the master class by sharing his journey working on Mad Max: Fury Road, telling NYFA-AU students: “To be a good filmmaker, it’s good to know all the phases of filmmaking, and sound—it’s one of the important ones. You can’t get good sound unless you get cooperation from all the film crew, we are all in it together, and to succeed we need each other.”

    Students listened intently as Osmo talked about the importance of how sound can make or break a film, and how to be flexible with film crews. He also shared some personal experiences both technical and related to the profession. 

    “The master class with Ben Osmo was insightful, inspiring, and gave an incredible perspective into the importance of sound for our students,” says Patrick Ryan, NYFA-AU Deputy Chair of Filmmaking.

    New York Film Academy Australia thanks former NYFA-AU instructor and Academy Award winner Ben Osmo for taking the time to share his expertise and experiences with our NYFA-AU students!

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    September 4, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers • Views: 1033

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Golden Globe Winner & ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Star Rachel Bloom

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomed Rachel Bloom, the Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated writer, producer, and co-creator of the CW’s hit series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, on Wednesday, August 21. Bloom spoke with students in an event at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus, moderated by Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series.

    Rachel Bloom is most widely known as the star of the CW musical dramedy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which she co-created and executive produced with Aline Brosh McKenna. For her lead role in the series, Bloom won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy, as well as winning at the Critics’ Choice Awards, and TCA Awards. She is also a four-time Emmy nominee for both Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and the Adult Swim sketch series Robot Chicken, which she wrote for.

    Rachel Bloom

    Bloom also wrote and performed in Yes: It’s Really Us Singing: The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Concert Special!, which aired after the series finale on the CW, and recently voiced the role of Batgirl in Batman VS. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Bloom will be featured next in The Angry Birds Movie 2 opposite Jason Sudeikis as well as Trolls 2: Trolls World Tour with Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake.

    Tova Laiter began the Q&A by asking Bloom how the idea for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend came about. “I had been doing comedic music videos on my YouTube channel for quite some time,” replied Bloom. “Apparently, Aline saw them and I got an email from her saying she wants to meet with me to discuss a potential musical television show with CBS. It came out of the blue.” Suddenly, the musical comedy ideas that Rachel had pitched and been turned down had become alive and viable.

    As for developing the skills necessary to be discovered, Bloom told the enthusiastic crowd, “I have to believe that hard work and honing your craft work out and pan out, but you can’t necessarily do it for that end goal because that’s just luck and there’s a lot of factors.” She added, “You have to love the craft and you have to love the work.” 

    Bloom continued on by advising students to “hone the process first and make connections in organic ways, but get good at your work first and then see what happens.”

    Rachel Bloom

    The Q&A then opened up to NYFA students. Bloom was asked how she and her team defined the line between homage and satire of musical theatre on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Bloom answered, “It’s a very inexact science and a lot of it was gut and emotion. A lot of it came from my own un-ironic love of musical theatre and learning comedy and realizing that a lot of musical theatre is goofy and embarrassing, but still loving it. It’s just mostly instinctive.” 

    The Q&A ended with Bloom being asked how she approaches writing and portraying characters with mental health issues without turning them into caricatures. Bloom articulated the importance of “coming at it from a first-person perspective and coming at it with empathy.”  

    New York Film Academy would like to thank writer, performer, and Golden Globe winner Rachel Bloom for sharing her expertise with our students!

    Check out the full conversation with Rachel Bloom, below.

     

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    September 4, 2019 • Acting, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting • Views: 1363

  • Q&A with ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Producer Matt Kaplan

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    On Tuesday, August 6, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a special Q&A with esteemed producer Matt Kaplan for our high school campers, following a screening of the Netflix all-time most-viewed original film, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Tova Laiter, Director of the NYFA Q&A Series, curated and moderated the event.

    Matt Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Ace Entertainment, focused on making feature films, television series, and digital content for youth audiences. Kaplan has produced incredibly buzzy YA films including the runaway success recent rom-com hit The Perfect Date, Spontaneous, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, starring NYFA alum Lana Condor. He is also behind the upcoming Are You Afraid of the Dark TV reboot based on the 1990s Nickelodeon television series. Kaplan’s past credits include features such as Before I Fall, The Lazarus Effect, and Viral. He is currently working on and next year’s sequel, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2.

    Matt Kaplan

    Laiter started by asking Kaplan how he started in the industry. Kaplan talked about how he started making short form content after graduating film school. “YouTube was just getting popular, and so I started making short videos with my friends,” he told the audience. From there, he started as an assistant at Lionsgate, a job his YouTube videos earned him, and worked his way up to an executive position in charge of YA content. During his time at Lionsgate, he was a part of the team that made The Hunger Games. “But I knew as a younger executive,” said Kaplan, “that I wanted to be the one making the final decisions.”

    One student asked about where to start when producing a movie. Kaplan replied, “First, try to figure out what kind of movies you’re passionate about telling … typically we will option a book or buy an article or whatever it is, and then hire a writer—or sometimes you’ll ask a friend to write the script on spec. And then once we have the script, that’s kind of the jumping off point. Once you have a good script, amazing things can happen.”

    Another student asked how Kaplan had figured out that he wanted to be a producer. “I like putting things together. I just looked at what I was good at. When I was your age, I took writing classes, and directing classes … but I knew I was good at assessing material, and I knew I had an instinct for what I could sell, and market. And so I spent a lot of my time making relationships with great writers and great directors.”

    Matt Kaplan

    One student asked about how to make connections in the film industry. Kaplan said, “Someone gave me this advice: it’s follow-up … As long as you are passionate about seeking that out, people in this business want to help. Start off by trying to get experience under mentors, don’t just watch—try to make friends with these people, and be helpful. And I think once you start to do that, good things can happen.” 

    New York Film Academy would like to thank To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before producer Matt Kaplan for sharing his producing insights with our high school campers.

     

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    August 8, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 3955

  • Photography Tory Rust Gives Guest Lecture at New York Film Academy (NYFA)

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    On July 16, New York Film Academy (NYFA) welcomed Brooklyn-based photographer and director Tory Rust for a guest lecture at the New York campus. Raised in Fargo, North Dakota, Rust currently works with major brands and publications to create bold images and videos for campaigns and editorials, and considers her work to be accurate representations of her obsession with saturated colors, high energy, and junk food.

    Speaking to NYFA students from multiple disciplines, Rust shared stories of her experiences working as a photographer and director for global beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brands and magazines. She offered an inside look at some of her recent photography and video projects, including a NYLON Magazine digital cover, GLAMSQUAD product launch, BUSTLE x Calvin Klein branded content, and an in-depth DJ shoot at this year’s Coachella music festival.

    When touching upon her experiences, Rust lent an air of relatability to the lecture, with her bubbly personality shining through as she explored her work and offered advice on standing out and finding success as a photographer in New York City. 

    Tory Rust

    She noted that stepping out of her comfort zone is still a challenge, but that “it’s all growing pains,” and that it’s particularly challenging when there are multiple clients on one set. A self-proclaimed “hype person,” Rust shared that one of the most important parts of her job is bringing creativity and energy on set with her, as this energy has a direct impact on the clients and cast of the day.

    Rust also addressed how having an agent has impacted her career, observing that it changed her overall workflow, as her agency (Apostrophe) handles job estimates, offers guidanceon rates, and takes care of the majority of her promotions with ad agencies, brands, editorial houses, producers and more. When asked how she decides whether or not to take a certain job presented to her, Rust offered, “It has to check two out of my three requirements: it’s something that I genuinely want to do creatively, it’s good money, or I like the people.” As a follow-up, she cheekily advised, “Find the balance between paying to live and keeping your sanity.”

    A strong advocate of being persistent in the pursuit of projects that inspire you, she advised students to convert emails and direct messages to face time as quickly as possible, and to never stop reaching out. As a final thought, she touched on identifying and creating a personal brand: “Keep your brand tight. Show your personality, but mostly show your work, and make sure it’s what you want to do.”

    New York Film Academy thanks photographer and director Tory Rust for sharing her experiences and vibrant portfolio, and wishes her the best as she continues to find success in shooting creative projects that inspire her and those around her.

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    August 1, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Photography • Views: 1214

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Emmy-Award Winning ‘Veep’ and ‘Arrested Development’ Star Tony Hale

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    New York Film Academy held a Q&A on June 26 with film and television star Tony Hale, following a screening of HBO’s Veep—the award-winning comedy series that skewers American politics. The event was moderated by NYFA-LA Acting for Film Associate Chair, Anne Moore, and held at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus.

    Tony Hale

    Tony Hale is best-known for his work as youngest sibling Buster Bluth on the critically-acclaimed Fox sitcom Arrested Development, and as Gary Walsh on HBO’s Veep, which he won twoEmmys for. Recently, Hale starred in Toy Story 4 as Forky, a beloved new character. 

    Hale discussed his start in acting to begin the Q&A. “I was not a kid who was into sports, and so my parents just didn’t know what to do with me,” he told a captivated audience of NYFA students. “And they found this children’s theatre, called Young Actors Theatre … I’m such an advocate for arts in schools just because—even if you don’t make it a career, like I did—certain personalities need that environment to thrive.” Moore and Hale then discussed how they met, at one of Hale’s first productions in New York City.

    Tony Hale

    The actor went on to discuss how he got his start in the business. He acquired his first agent and did a lot of commercial work and theatre before the audition for Arrested Development in 2003. A casting director remembered him from a previous audition and called him in for Buster Bluth. “I don’t know what that’s saying [about me] … he’s just kind of a man-child,” Hale joked about the casting director thinking of him for Buster.

    Moore asked Hale about how he approaches his characters. Hale remembered a film he was working on in the mid-2000s, and he really didn’t like the character. “The character I was playing—I didn’t like the guy, ‘cause he was kind of a player, he was manipulative … And I was just like, ugh, I know people like this … I just didn’t like this character.”

    Tony Hale

    Someone advised him that “Tony, you have to realize that these characteristics are inside of you.” Hale said it was a wake-up call: “It’s so refreshing … the fact is I would be lying if I said I never had moments where I’ve been manipulative … you have to find those places in them that are inside of you.”

    Tony Hale wanted to leave the students with a bit of advice from his most recent film, Pixar hit sequel Toy Story 4: “One thing that Forky said in Toy Story that I love [was] ‘It’s gonna be okay.’ Because it really is. It’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster—like life!—but just coming back to the space of like, it’s alright, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to unfold in time.”

    Tony Hale

    New York Film Academy would like to thank Emmy-winning actor Tony Hale for speaking to our students and sharing his experiences and insight.

    Tony Hale

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    July 9, 2019 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 1410

  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Welcomes Oscar-Winning Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski to New York City Campus

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    New York Film Academy (NYFA) Cinematography students recently had the chance to meet and speak with one of the industry’s most renowned and well-known cinematographers, Janusz Kaminski. Kaminski previously spoke with NYFA students at our Burbank-based campus.

    Kaminski originally hails from Poland and only had a handful of cinematography credits to his name when Steven Spielberg chose him to shoot his passion project, Schindler’s List. Kaminski’s beautiful, mostly black-and-white photography earned him his first Academy Award. To date, he has been nominated for a Best Cinematography Oscar six times, winning again for Saving Private Ryan.

    Janusz Kaminski

    Since Schindler’s List, Kaminski has shot many of Spielberg’s films, including Amistad, Minority Report, Catch Me if You Can, Munich,  and Ready Player One, and is currently working on the upcoming remake of West Side Story. Other notable credits include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Jerry Maguire.

    Last month, Kaminski spoke at length with NYFA Cinematography students at our New York campus in an intimate setting. He began by sitting down with little fanfare, just inches from the students, and telling them, “I’m here for you, what would you like to talk about?” followed by several questions both technical and related to the profession. All in all, the discussion was very congenial and lasted nearly three hours. The class was extremely friendly, and lasted almost three hours.

    Kaminski stressed to the students the importance of experience and working as much as possible, even if certain projects are low budget and are not going to earn much recognition. He also shared some personal details, including that the work he is most proud of is the film Munich, a difficult film that explores complex themes. Much of what he covered included the thought process of a professional cinematographer, which remains consistent no matter how much success or accolades one acquires in their career.

    Janusz Kaminski

    Kaminski also talked to students about taking risks and working hard, especially in finding the proper visual language for each film. He also focused extensively on how important it is for students to own their images, to find a language and style that is appropriate for the film they are doing, while always remembering that working fast is absolutely fundamental as well as keeping an eye on the production aspects of the job.

    “The meeting with Janusz Kaminski was an incredible experience for the students and for the instructors that have been able to participate,” says Piero Basso, NYFA-NY Chair of Cinematography.

    Basso adds, “Apart from the obvious knowledge and life experiences he has shared with us, the key element of his visit was that even a superstar DP like him, on the verge of shooting again with Steven Spielberg, hasn’t lost his connection to real life and to feelings that are common to every DP before starting a new job.

    “To hear him explaining that less than a week away from starting his new movie (nothing less than the remake of West Side Story) he is still thinking on how to approach it—and that he has a dose of healthy tension and worries about how it will turn out—is refreshing in a world where you are always wondering if your own choices are right, and often you don’t know it until later into the movie when turning back is virtually impossible.”

    Janusz Kaminski
    Since he was speaking with NYFA’s highly-trained cinematography students, he wasn’t afraid to get into the weeds and talk about very technical aspects of his artistic choices. Kaminski brought up the importance of filtration and the necessity of modifying the images while creating them to match the look and tone the filmmakers are exploring for their movie.

    Kaminski also discussed how sometimes lighting is done very simply and almost without any intervention, like in several sections of Saving Private Ryan, but how in other situations it becomes very important to use artificial light even in daytime exteriors—for example in War Horse, which was often lit in daytime to be able to save the beauty of the light in the background of the characters.

    New York Film Academy thanks legendary and Oscar-winning director of photography Janusz Kaminski for taking the time to share his expertise and experiences with our NYFA Cinematography students!

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    July 9, 2019 • Cinematography, Guest Speakers • Views: 1719

  • Lionsgate Talent Acquisition Speaks with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Military Veteran-Students

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    The Lionsgate Talent Acquisition team gave a special presentation to New York Film Academy (NYFA) military veteran-students and veteran-student alumni on June 19, 2019 at the NYFA Theater at our Los Angeles Campus in Burbank. 

    Vice President of Talent Acquisition, Anita Noe, and Senior Recruiter, Hugo Vergara, were on hand to discuss employment and internship opportunities to NYFA veteran-students. The presentation opened with a company overview and then segued into the company’s structure, operations, vision for the future, and—most importantly—how to effectively apply for internships and employment with Lionsgate. Having many subsidiaries, including Starz Inc. and Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate also assists in their staffing as well. 

    Veteran-students were highly engaged in the presentation, posed many questions, and came away with a wonderful insight into the company. 

    “Hearing what Lionsgate had to say was both motivating and very informative. They provided a lot of information on resumes and effective job searching that I will take with me post-graduation. Lionsgate would be a wonderful company to be a part of and I will be exploring the opportunities that they have in the very near future,” said Elcor Aragundi, US Army veteran and NYFA BFA Filmmaking Student.

    lionsgate
    Based out of Santa Monica, Lionsgate is one of the industry’s leading production companies and distributors. Along with The Hunger Games and John Wick franchises, they are responsible for popular titles such as Uncle Drew, The Big Stick, La La Land and Sicario, among many other current movies and television Shows.

    The New York Film Academy Department of Veteran Services would like to sincerely thank Anita and Hugo—and the rest of the Lionsgate team—for their time and generosity.  

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    July 2, 2019 • Guest Speakers, Veterans • Views: 1296