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  • Spring 2018 Highlights from NYFA Los Angeles’ Acting for Film Department

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    It’s been a busy semester at for the Acting for Film Department at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles. In addition to our fabulous curriculum, we also hosted industry guest speakers, produced student-directed plays, saw our improv troupe return to the 80’s in a memorable performance, and an empowering performance from our dance troupe.

    Spring ’18 Student-Directed Plays

    This Spring’s series of student-directed plays commenced with The Shape Of Things, directed by Kylee Snyder. Neil LaBute’s play examines the protagonist’s relationship to her art, which she uses as a form of manipulation and punishment,  crossing the line and justifying self-serving behavior.     

    Five Women Wearing The Same Dress was directed by Nurgul Salimova. Alan Ball’s hilarious play about five very different bridesmaids all hiding out to escape the bride that none of them even like. Over the course of the play, they laugh, cry, fight, reveal secrets, and ultimately find a common connection in sisterhood. The creative set design was a true delight.

    Madison Miller and Jonas Grosserhode in Five Women Wearing the Same Dress

    The Greater Good Rebecca, directed by Kia Queener. This dystopian play by  Rebecca Gorman O’Neil explores the consequences when citizens don’t take action, blindly follow orders, and allow a government to silence dissenters.

    Stefan Leach, Bella Ferraro, and Evan Annisette in The Greater Good

    Women and Wallace is a one-act play by Jonathan Sherman and directed by Luke Sweeney. The play explores how a young man learns to navigate relationships with women after the suicide of his mother. By the play’s end, Wallace learns to forgive his mother and gains the ability to love again.

    Cock was directed by second-time student director Jeremiah Lucas. The play is a sharp witty study of the sexual identity and the paralyzing indecision that stems from stigmatization of same-sex orientation. The engaging and well-staged play was written by Mark Barlett.

    Jeremiah Lucas director of Cock

    Picasso at The Lapin Agile by Steve Martin and directed by Alon Fischer. What would happen if Einstein and Picasso met in a local watering hole (and hell throw in Elvis), and you have an uproariously funny play that asks the question what is genius and creativity? And, who do they belong to?

    Jacob Douglas Wolfe in Picasso at The Lapin Agile

    A Cell Phone Symphony id an original play written and directed by our BFA student Michael Anthony Johnson. It’s a contemporary comedy that included rap, pop music, Thriller-esque dance numbers, and a cell phone game. It takes place in NY and asks the question: what happens to our relationships when we have a more intimate connection to our phones than we do to the people in our lives. 

    Improv Troupe

    The first Improv Troupe Showcase was held on Thursday, April 5 at the Groundlings Gary Austin Stage after a four-month rehearsal process.  The company  – selected by audition from alumni and current students – performed for a sold-out crowd of industry professionals – including networks and top-tier talent agencies, managers and casting directors. The show was directed by LA Faculty Suzanne Kent and George McGrath, both Groundling alumni. The troupe wishes to thank Lynda Goodfriend and Anne Moore for their hard work and support.

    This spring, the Glee Club at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held a 1980s music concert — and it was a huge success!  

    The Glee Clubbers put up seminal hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Smiths, Guns and Roses, and DEVO. Glee Club faculty supervisor Melissa Sullivan said, “It has been an amazing experience to musically direct this multi-talented group the last two years. Throughout the semester, I have seen students flourish and grow through music.”

    To create a true pop sound for the music of this semester’s concert, the Glee Club utilized microphones — for some students, it was their first experience using mics. Sullivan had mics set up in rehearsals so students could learn mic singing technique. The event was also choreographed and staged with the help of students Sunny Amara and Jasmine Mensah.  According to Amara, “My experience in Glee Club has been everything I imagined; a group of talented people who just want to have fun, work hard and make beautiful music. I’ve become great friends with these people very quickly and we’ve become a little glee family!”

    Sullivan had this to say about NYFA Clubs in general: “What I find amazing about the clubs that NYFA has to offer is that the students involved are usually in more than one club. Some of the Glee Club students are also in the Dance Troupe. I believe these clubs are beneficial to student’s growth. They are collaborating with students outside of their class and have an additional creative outlet. “

    NYFA’s Glee Club is usually comprised of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, and guided by strong student leadership and collaboration. This semester, the club had BFA student Rachel Gordine as assistant musical director, and the sections’ leaders were BFA student Rachel Gordine (sopranos), BFA student Paige Conroy (altos), AFA student Ethan Williams and BFA student Zackary Nel (tenors), and BFA student Zane Hudson (bass).

    Next semester the New York Film Academy Glee Club will be putting up the music of Broadway, and possibly collaborating with the NYFA Dance Troupe. It’s a very exciting time here in Los Angeles, and the Glee Club hopes you can join them at next semester’s show.

    International Women’s Day

    On Thursday, March 8th, International Women’s Day, a panel of entertainment industry women assembled to discuss their experience working in the industry and provide advice to our students in what was a highly informative evening.

    Event Details:

    “A Woman’s Place is In the Industry”-  Perspectives on Women in the Entertainment Industry: a Panel Discussion on the landscape for women today in different areas of the entertainment community, and in the interest of our students, who are the future of entertainment, answer the question – “How do we create a different, more empowering culture for women in the industry?”

    Panelists:

    Dea Lawrence

    – Chief Marketing Officer for Variety. As CMO, Dea is responsible for driving Variety’s global branding and communications strategy, including overseeing the marketing and production of their 70 annual events and summits along with the Variety Content Studio which creates storytelling for brands.

    Kelly Gilmore

    – former Senior Vice President of Global Toys for 28 years at Warner Bros. Consumer Products responsible for licensing intellectual properties such as DC Comics, Harry Potter, Scooby Doo and Looney Tunes to major global toy companies including Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, Jakks Pacific and Funko. When Kelly left in 2016, her team had the biggest financial year in the history of her career, winning nine toy awards. Since retiring in 2016, Kelly enjoys floral arranging, gardening, cooking, spending time with her dogs and mentoring a 14-year-old girl.

    Barbara Bain

    – a 3 Time Emmy Award Winning Actress, Barbara is perhaps best known for her role as Cinnamon Carter in “Mission Impossible” for which she won 3 consecutive Emmy Awards for Best Actress in a Drama Series. Barbara is also well known for her philanthropy work. Among her many charitable activities, Barbara is the founder of the Screen Actors Guild’s “BookPals” Program that has colleagues reading to children in schools all around Los Angeles.

    Jeanette Collins

    – Producer/Writer. Jeanette and writing partner Mimi Friedman started their careers writing on “In Living Color” where they were nominated for an Emmy. Many half-hour comedies followed including “A Different World”, “Suddenly Susan” and “Will and Grace”. After 2 seasons writing for the HBO series “Big Love”, they joined the staff of “Dirt”. They are currently developing a mini-series for HBO about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Winship Cook

    – Independent Producer. Winship worked in network television at Paramount Pictures on shows such as “Down Home” and “Fired Up”. She Co-Executive Produced “The Family Plan” a movie for the Hallmark Channel. Winship worked as a Producer and Vice President of Development for The Edward S. Feldman Company, where her credits include “102 Dalmatians” starring Glenn Close and “K-19: The Widowmaker” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. As a theater producer, Winship developed and produced the one-man show “RFK” that in its Off-Broadway incarnation was an award-winning show directed by Larry Moss.

    Valorie Massalas

    – Casting Director/Producer. Valorie’s prolific, extensive casting career includes such features as “Back to the Future 2 & 3” directed by Robert Zemeckis, “Indiana Jones” and “Total Recall” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.

    Ronnie Yeskel

    – Casting Director. Ronnie’s career casting countless films and television shows includes such iconic features as “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” for Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” for Larry David on HBO.

    Elvi Cano

    – Executive Director at EGEDA US & Premios Platino. Elvi and her teams In Los Angeles and Miami provide assistance to Spanish and Latin American filmmakers serving as a liaison facilitating relations between the US film industry and those of Spain and Latin America. She has been actively involved in the production of the 4 editions of The PLATINO AWARDS OF IBEROAMERICAN CINEMA in Panama, Spain & Uruguay and is the talent producer/head of talent for the Awards.

    Lisa Guerriero

    – Lisa Guerriero began working as a Camera Assistant in Los Angeles in 1989. She has worked on feature films and television shows such as “Fight Club”, “Lost Highway”, and “Mad Men”. Lisa has been on the Executive Board of the International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600 since 2001 and was the Co-Chair of their Diversity Committee for four years.

    Jana Winternitz 

    – an award-winning producer and actress having produced over 70 projects including “The Thinning Franchise”, “Internet Famous” and “Funny Story”. She has worked with Legendary, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Focus Features along with a slew of wonderful talent including Maggie Gyllenhaal and Angela Bassett. Jana enjoys generating strong and complex female roles for the screen.

    STAND-UP FOR WOMEN!

    On March 7th, at the NYFA Theater, we hosted a benefit for women helping women (WHW). “Stand-Up for Women” was hosted by Lisa deLarios, featuring performances by stand-up comics: Laura House, Kate Willet, Vanessa Gonzalez, Jena Friedman, Jessica Sele, Annie Lederman, and Ellington Wells, and NYFA faculty member Jackie Kashian. The fabulous collection of talent was assembled by Peri Litvak.     

    Dance Troupe 

    The theme of our upcoming show and Troupe is Diversity and Empowerment through Community and Purpose – To dance, create, express, entertain and have fun.

     As Dance Troupe is an extracurricular class students audition and once accepted, commit themselves to creating together and putting up a show of original works at the end of the semester. These students love to dance, choreograph and perform. The dance styles are diverse from Hip Hop, Break Dancing, Contemporary, Salsa, Belly Dance to Bollywood! They are all very dedicated and happy to be part of a dance community at NYFA where they can meet other students, have fun and dance off their stress as well. This will be the biggest show we have put on so far and we are really excited about it! This semester we have 27 dancers and we will be showcasing 18 original pieces!

    Students have to audition at the beginning of the semester to get in to Dance Troupe. We audition dancers and choreographers. It meets every Friday night in Bogart from 7:15pm to 10pm. Who is evolved – NYFA students which include the Acting Department, Film Department and Alumni. 

    The rehearsal process is pretty straight forward  – Choreographers show there pieces, then teach a part of their choreography to the dancers who are interested. Then the choreographers select the dancers they want in their piece –  for the most part the choreographers try to accommodate as many dancers as possible. Choreographers set up outside rehearsals with their dancers and present their progress on Friday night when we meet. If there is time left over we break the time up and let different choreographers work on their pieces. These rehearsals are highly productive to say the least!

    Here’s what the students had to say about it:

    “Being apart of dance Troupe Has allowed me to explore a side of myself that’s filled with passion, leadership and overall growth and love for everyone involved. The progress of the troupe is incredible!:” – Jacqueline Hahn

    “I get an outlet for myself to express my creativity without the pressure of grades and succeeding in my major” – Lotta Lemetti

    “Dance Troupe has made me a happier, joyful and motivated artist to express my feelings through creative movement” – Derek Ramsay

    “It’s a different medium of art I get to explore. I can give myself so much freedom through dance.” – Julia Newman

    ” Dance Troupe has really helped me to open up as a person. It helps me to express myself without words, just through body language, which ultimately helps me in my acting. In addition, I met a lot of amazing and super talented people, who I am great friends with now.” – Danel Azimova

    ” I get out of Dance Troupe the feeling and opportunity to reach out to others. I am able to interact with dedicated dancers that support one another. Just like any other branch of art, I can tell a story and get a message across, but in this case through music and movement.”- Sabrina Hartmann

    “Every rehearsal is amazing for me because I’m getting a lot of energy, love, good vibes, laughter and good workout.” – Elizaveta Emerenko 

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    June 14, 2018 • Acting, Community Highlights • Views: 212

  • New York Film Academy Glee Club Honors the ’80s in Spring Performance

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    This spring, the Glee Club at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus held a 1980s music concert — and it was a huge success!  

    The Glee Clubbers put up seminal hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, The Smiths, Guns and Roses, and DEVO. Glee Club faculty supervisor Melissa Sullivan said, “It has been an amazing experience to musically direct this multi-talented group the last two years. Throughout the semester, I have seen students flourish and grow through music.”

    To create a true pop sound for the music of this semester’s concert, the Glee Club utilized microphones — for some of students, it was their first experience using mics. Sullivan had mics set up in rehearsals so students could learn mic singing technique. The event was also choreographed and staged with the help of students Sunny Amara and Jasmine Mensah.  According to Amara, “My experience in Glee Club has been everything I imagined; a group of talented people who just want to have fun, work hard and make beautiful music. I’ve become great friends with these people very quickly and we’ve become a little glee family!”

    Sullivan had this to say about NYFA Clubs in general: “What I find amazing about the clubs that NYFA has to offer is that the students involved are usually in more than one club. Some of the Glee Club students are also in the Dance Troupe. I believe these clubs are beneficial to student’s growth. They are collaborating with students outside of their class and have an additional creative outlet. “

    NYFA’s Glee Club is usually comprised of four sopranos, four altos, four tenors and four basses, and guided by strong student leadership and collaboration. This semester, the club had BFA student Rachel Gordine as assistant musical director, and the sections’ leaders were BFA student Rachel Gordine (sopranos), BFA student Paige Conroy (altos), AFA student Ethan Williams and BFA student Zackary Nel (tenors), and BFA student Zane Hudson (bass).

    Next semester the New York Film Academy Glee Club will be putting up the music of Broadway, and possibly collaborating with the NYFA Dance Troupe. It’s a very exciting time here in Los Angeles, and the Glee Club hopes you can join them at next semester’s show.

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    May 23, 2018 • Community Highlights, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 334

  • NYFA NEXT Young Filmmaker Program Participates in All Rise Film Competition

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    Three young filmmakers from the New York Film Academy BAFTA Community Outreach program were selected as finalists in the 2018 All Rise Say No to Cyber Abuse Filmmaking Competition in the ages 16-21 category. The theme this year was, “Is Cyber Abuse an International Crime,” and entrants incorporated this theme into their films, giving them a voice on the global epidemic that is cyber abuse.

    Chair of NYFA Community Outreach Mason Richards sounded the call for submissions to the NYFA Community Outreach alumni in Los Angeles who participated in the NEXT Young Filmmaker Program, an advanced outreach filmmaking program held in the summer at NYFA Los Angeles. The students responded by writing three different PSAs focused on the dangers of cyberbullying and its effects young people. “What was amazing about the short films is that the students wrote, directed, and filmed stories based on their real experiences growing up in south LA. They were able to utilize the filmmaking techniques they learned in the outreach film program to tell powerful and unique stories.”

    The students shot their 3-minute PSA at the Universal Backlot and the NYFA soundstage, and at Washington Prep High School in their neighborhood. NYFA provided the equipment and mentors to assist the students with their films. Post-production was also completed at NYFA where students practiced what they learned while editing on AVID.

    Sharyn Ross, Head of Outreach Program for BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), a long time partner with NYFA’s outreach program, added, “The students get so much out of the filmmaking program at NYFA, and they’ve always talked about coming together to create more work, so the All Rise competition was the perfect opportunity for them to collaborate on a project with a purpose and a message. The international exposure of their films was also very exciting for them.”

    The All Rise annual film competition is designed to give young people a voice about Cyber Abuse and how it affects their everyday lives. The 2018 All Rise young filmmaker finalists Rosalinda Larios (The Victim), Kevin Miles (All Rise) and Jeannie Gardner (Hidden Secret) were among hundreds who submitted to the competition and comprised three of the six finalists in their category. Other students that collaborated on the films are: Tashad Rutherford, Michael Madrid, Chablee “Bubbles” Adams, Daizia Gray, and A’leah Love. The final six films selected were screened and critiqued live online by a panel of distinguished judges including:

    • Paul Giannasi – Leads the UK Cross Government Hate Crime Program and manages the Police’s National Policy on Hate Crime.
    • Ronan Keating – Singer/songwriter.
    • Katie Corcoran – Secondary school history teacher and swimming teacher.
    • Simon Stanley Champ – Senior visual effects supervisor, Cineaste Studios.
    • Otto Bathurst – UK award-winning director, Robin Hood opening this year.

    Young filmmaker Rosalinda Larios added, “It is absolutely great to know that we made it to the final round. This truly acknowledges that our films have that special potential in it, that differed from among hundreds of other films. Hearing these major directors talk about my film, made me feel great. I received many compliments that elevated my self-esteem, but I also received other concerns that actually just motivated me to fix my errors, in order to become a great and better filmmaker.”

    Rosalinda adds, “Being part of the BAFTA/NYFA Outreach program has made a dramatic impact in my life. What I truly like the most about this program is the support system that we receive from all our teachers and mentors. This BAFTA/NYFA family we have created is a wonderful connection that has been part of my life.”

    The BAFTA/NYFA Community Outreach program is currently in its fourth year of partnership, where select students participate in a nine-week film camp on Saturdays, where they produce, write, direct, act and edit shorts films to be screened at NYFA Los Angeles. Classes are taught by NYFA faculty, mentors, and student volunteers. The current NYFA/BAFTA Community Outreach program is running for the Spring 2018 semester, and the final screening for the new cohort of films will screen on in April 2018 at the NYFA theater.

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    March 8, 2018 • Community Highlights, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 1176

  • Hollywood Talent Manager Brian Medavoy Holds Q&A at Los Angeles Campus

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    The New York Film Academy was excited to welcome Talent Manager, Producer, and Emmy Award winner Brian Medavoy to the Los Angeles campus whose TV productions include Darma and Greg, American High, and Just Shoot Me. He’s also helped craft the early careers of Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Jason Bateman, Jenna Elfman, Craig Sheffer, David Schwimmer, and Toby Maguire. The evening’s conversation was hosted by Director of Guest Lecture Series, Tova Laiter.

    Hollywood born and raised, Brian grew up with a unique understanding of the movie business. His father, Mike Medavoy was a manager to big talents like Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola before Co-Founding Orion Pictures. But while that connection helped Brian to get into the mailroom at a talent agency, he had to build his own career through strategic, hard work. After working for legendary agent Ed Limato at ICM, Medavoy moved on to work as Erwin More’s assistant. Shortly after, at his young age of 23, he and More formed More/Medavoy Mgmt and went on to produce nine pilots.

    At the time, Talent Management was mostly for rock stars. In 1998, there were very few managers. “I spent most of my time explaining to people what a manager does,” Medavoy said. His first client was Craig Sheffer. Hoping to help him land his first big role, Medavoy had to use his connections and some unconventional tactics.

    Robert Redford was casting A River Runs Through It, and River Phoenix was supposed to play Brad Pitt’s brother in the film. “I called Redford during casting,” Medavoy began. Redford told him the protocol is to call the casting director but not wanting to wait, Medavoy drove a tape of his actor’s recent performance and brought it to Redford. After watching the tape, Redford decided to hire Sheffer for the role.

    Upon learning that Medavoy had at one time wanted to be an actor, Laiter asked, “If you were an actor today what advice would you give to yourself to make it in the business? How would you distinguish yourself from the crowd?”

    “If you’re not singing on the way to the audition,” Medavoy began, “you should turn around.” In other words, he encouraged actors not to think about trying to get the part but to focus on bringing a character to life. “Enjoy every aspect of the audition.”

    This idea of focusing on what is happening in the moment radiated throughout Medavoy’s discussion. Helping others is a key component to success. Jealousy, he warned, can lead to destruction. “In life,” Medavoy suggested, “if you know what you’re great at and you use it to help people, that’s when you reap the benefits spiritually and financially.”

    He offered additional advice about supporting your peers, “When you watch the award shows, and you see a peer of yours winning an award, the minute you’re looking at the TV and think ‘that should be me’ is the minute it won’t be you. You’ll know you’re succeeding when you want to hug that person.” Medavoy admitted the advice sounds strange but “You get when you give.”

    Medavoy believes that a big part of a person’s success comes from having a passion for what you’re doing. This belief was nurtured from a young age: as a child, his mother sent him to musical theatre productions, and during performances, he would look out at the audience and see the joy on their faces. This experience instilled the desire to be an actor and evoke that same joy in audiences. However, after performing on stage he realized he was better suited to working with actors as their manager. “I was able to find unique talented individuals,” he said. “You can see it their eyes. I always say I build stars from stars.”

    One student, who is currently working his way through comedy festivals, asked who he should choose if he gets offers for management. “The key is to understand the landscape of the business.” With an abundance of information readily available, he suggested that actors do their research before making a selection. Before meeting with potential clients or business partners, Medavoy often uses social media to create a picture of that person. “It’s much harder for people to hide who they are now,” Medavoy said.

    One insider tip Medavoy gave students was to look for different strengths in their manager and agent. “You usually want one (of the two) first. Discover their strengths. Then find one with strengths in a different area.”

    To demonstrate this, Brian asked another student a series a of questions to help reveal the student’s strengths a uniqueness. Brian then told him to “own it” to which NYFA students applauded appreciatively.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Brian Medavoy for taking the time to speak with our students. His (motivational) blog is www.brianmedavoy.com.

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    March 2, 2018 • Acting, Film School, Guest Speakers • Views: 3661

  • The Young Saudi Film Festival Heralds a New Generation of Filmmakers

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    On Sunday, February 18 the New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted the second annual Young Saudi Film Festival (YSFF) at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Hollywood, California. In the festival’s first year, the goal was to provide Saudi filmmakers a space to screen their work. This year the festival grew in audience and scope, receiving over 80 submissions and featuring eight outstanding films that told stories ranging from comedy to tragedy. With the ban on movie theaters lifted in Saudi Arabia it is a great time to showcase the next generation of Saudi filmmakers.

    The highly anticipated event was well attended by internationals and locals alike including NYFA students and alumni, local Saudi community members, producer and film distributor Diane Taren, and representatives from the Kuwaiti and Emirati consulates.

    NYFA MFA Filmmaking Alumnus, Maan bin Abdulrahman of Prince of Arabia Entertainment, hosted the evening. He introduced Director of NYFA Los Angeles, Dan Mackler who, in his opening remarks, emphasized how storytelling is a universal means of uniting different cultures, “The New York Film Academy believes that storytelling unites us internationally, across cultures and through perceived differences. We’re very proud of the films we’re screening tonight because they exemplify those ideals.”

    President of the YSFF, Rakan Anneghaimshi (Spring 2016 BFA Acting for Film), spoke briefly to the audience thanking everyone who made the event possible and congratulating the participants on their hard work. Finally, NYFA Instructor and one of the judges of the competition, James Rowe, addressed the audience.

    In a moving speech, Rowe detailed his experience as one of the members of the selection committee. “Submissions to this festival have come from all over the world. We were looking for stories and perspectives that surprised us and left us feeling something long after the credits had rolled.”

    Rowe attributed the great stories coming out of Saudi Arabia to a need humans have to share their experiences. “Great art is born out of urgency,” Rowe began. “There is a burning need to tell stories that have gone untold for some time. There exists a desire to express ideas that have remained unspoken.”

    Rowe concluded, “One of the true joys I get from teaching at the New York Film Academy is teaching students to discover that they do have something unique and personal to say right now. All of the films here tonight, clearly have something to say. They are a reminder that art captivates and compels us most when it feels urgent; as if the artist couldn’t have waited one more moment to tell us their story.”

    Following the screenings, there was a Q and A session with the filmmakers who joined Maan bin Abdulrahman on the stage to take questions from the audience. The first question went to filmmaker Yassin Koptan (Filmmaking, 2014). His film, Piece of Wood, follows skateboarders in Egypt and the discrimination they face. He was asked what the skateboard in his film symbolized. “It’s a symbol for resistance,” he responded. “It’s a symbol for unity. It’s a symbol for fighting for what’s rightfully yours.”

    Maan bin Abdulrahman wanted to know how filmmaker Meshaal Al Jaser (Screenwriting, 2019) was able to pull such a captivating performance from a child actor. In his film, Under Concrete, a Syrian girl relives instances from her life while buried under rubble following the bombing of her home. “All of the actors were Syrian. They were already heartbroken. They felt it more than I ever could.”

    President Anneghaimshi wrapped up the Q&A stating, “We try, as much as possible, to reflect society as we see it,” he began. “We want to see the authentic stories coming out of our community. One of the goals of the YSFF was to help bring our global community together. We had comedic films, we had dramatic films, and we had family-oriented films. I couldn’t be more proud.”

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank all of the participants, the audience, and the Young Saudi Film Festival for allowing us to take part in such a special and momentous evening.

    Bloodline written and directed by Saud Al-Moghirah, produced by Javier Olmo

    Coexistence by Musab Alamri

    Hero Complex written and directed by Mohamad AlYamani, produced by Mohamad AlYamani and Douglas Spain

    The Nostalgia written by Sarah Lotfy, directed and produced by Moataz Badran

    Piece of Wood by Yassin Koptan

    The Scapegoat written by Charlie H. Millen & Stephen Ranieri, directed by Talha B., produced by Maan B.

    Spirit of North by Mohammad Ali Almarhabi

    Under Concrete by Meshal Al Jaser

     

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    March 2, 2018 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals • Views: 1323

  • Pete Hammond is Guest Speaker at New York Film Academy Los Angeles

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    On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Deadline film critic and reporter, Pete Hammond, joined New York Film Academy (NYFA) students for a Q & A at the Los Angeles campus. NYFA Director of the Q & A Series Tova Laiter hosted the evening.

    Hammond has worked as a contributor for Variety, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.

    Laiter began the evening by asking Hammond how he got his start in the industry.

    It turns out Hammond didn’t set out to be a journalist. He just knew he wanted to be in the film industry. As an NBC Page, Hammond began working his way up the ladder. From page, he was promoted to a children’s television writer. Soon after, he became a researcher at Entertainment Tonight. From there he moved to the The Arsenio Hall Show, worked on Access Hollywood, and finally, Hammond created the entertainment news program Extra.

    With the Oscars just around the corner, students were curious to know more about the inside politics of the Academy.  One student wanted to know about the possibility of a shake-up at this year’s Oscars. “Looking at the statistics,” he began, “No film has won Best Film without first being nominated for Best Director and Best Screenplay.” Three Billboards hasn’t been nominated for Best Director, but it has been nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. The student wanted to know if Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri could take home the grand prize.   

    Hammond was impressed and jokingly asked the student if he was looking for work. “Your predictions are spot on. This is what I’ve been writing about for the past couple of years.”

    Hammond said that only three times in Oscar’s history has a film won Best Picture that had not been nominated for Best Director. Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated for Argo, though he did win the Director’s Guild Award later that year. Driving Miss Daisy director Bruce Beresford and Grand Hotel director Edmund Goulding were not nominated, either. “The odds are statistically against Three Billboards but I think it has a shot because of the preferential ballot.”

    Hammond explained that when voting for the Oscars, Academy members number all of the nominees from their favorite to their least favorite. That numbering system can have a huge impact on the final turnout. If enough members place Three Billboards as a three or higher, it could mean a win.

    Hammond also noted a new trend over the past five years: Four out of the five Best Picture winners didn’t see their director rewarded, but all of their scripts did win Best Picture. In looking at the history of the Oscars, this trend is very rare.  

    Of course, students also wanted to pick Hammond’s brain about his personal opinion on the 2017 lineup of films. Hammond was particularly impressed with the stamina of Get Out. A film released in February usually isn’t in contention for the Oscars a year after it’s release. In fact, the last Best Picture nominee to have a February release was another thriller film, Silence of the Lambs, in 1991.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Pete Hammond for taking the time to speak with our students. The Oscars air on Sunday, March 4, 2018, on NBC.  You can read Hammond’s film reviews here.

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  • Young Saudi Film Festival Unveils Lineup of Films at New York Film Academy

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    On Monday, the Young Saudi Film Festival, hosted by the New York Film Academy, announced the films it will showcase this season. The festival opens Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Harmony Gold Preview House in Los Angeles. The eight films — six from Saudi Arabia and two from Egypt — cover a wide range of genres, from comedy to drama, thriller to family film.

    “We had an impressive variety of films submitted from around the world, and we congratulate all the filmmakers,” said YSFF President and NYFA student Rakan Anneghaimshi (Spring 2016 BFA Acting). “It was very challenging for our selection committee to choose only eight films.”

    Dan Mackler, Director of NYFA Los Angeles, greets YSFF President Rakan Anneghaimshi.

    The committee consisted of NYFA Faculty Miraj Grbic (actor, Mission Impossible), producer Tony Schwartz, and James Coburn (production sound), among others, who did the first round of viewing. The second round of judging was led by YSFF Vice President and NYFA alum Abdulaziz Almutari (Fall 2015 MFA Cinematography) and Maan bin Abdulrahman (January 2013 BFA Filmmaking) of Prince of Arabia Entertainment.

    Impressed with the amount of NYFA involvement in creating this festival, Dean of Enrollment Services Tami Alexander said, “We are very proud that New York Film Academy alumni and students are leading the media and entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia. We support Rakan and Abdulaziz’s vision for the Young Saudi Film Festival and are happy to sponsor the Festival in Los Angeles. After the announcement that cinemas will be allowed in the Kingdom again, I could not be more thrilled. We look forward to strengthening relationships and are excited for new collaborations in Saudi Arabia.”

    In addition to the films, the festival will include a congratulatory video by Saudi Arabian actor Nasser Al Gassaby, a performance by the NYFA Improv Troupe (directed by Groundlings legends Suzanne Kent and George McGrath), and a question-and-answer session with the filmmakers moderated by host Maan B.

    VIP invitees include the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, the Saudi Consul, the US Ambassadors from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, the UAE’s Minister of Education, along with top-level Saudi Arabian actors, producers, filmmakers, and media.

    The complete lineup of films includes:

    Bloodline written and directed by Saud Al-Moghirah, produced by Javier Olmo

    Coexistence by Musab Alamri

    Hero Complex written and directed by Mohamad AlYamani, produced by Mohamad AlYamani and Douglas Spain

    The Nostalgia written by Sarah Lotfy, directed and produced by Moataz Badran

    Piece of Wood by Yassin Koptan

    The Scapegoat written by Charlie H. Millen & Stephen Ranieri, directed by Talha B., produced by Maan B.

    Spirit of North by Mohammad Ali Almarhabi

    Under Concrete by Meshal Al Jaser

    The Young Saudi Film Festival will be at the Harmony Gold Preview House on Sunday, February 18. It starts with a reception at 4 pm, and the program begins at 5 pm. To attend, please RSVP at nyfa.edu/ysff.

     

     

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    February 14, 2018 • Community Highlights, Film Festivals, Filmmaking • Views: 1284

  • HOLA Partners with New York Film Academy Jaguars to Create Basketball Clinic for Kids

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    This winter, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles campus men’s basketball team, the NYFA Jaguars, embraced the idea of giving back. Forming a partnership with Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), a non-profit organization that provides Los Angeles children free access to academic, art, and athletic-based classes, together, HOLA and the NYFA Jaguars created a basketball clinic for kids.

    The clinic was led by the NYFA Jaguar’s coach, NBA Champion Lucius Allen. The clinic consisted of basketball drills that legendary UCLA Coach, John Wooden, used to train Allen when he was in college. “Wooden’s philosophies helped define success for me both inside and outside the game of basketball.” Allen said. The goal was to help instill confidence and sportsmanship in the young basketball players.

    Reflecting on the class, HOLA Athletic Director Kristina Wheeler said, “This was a great experience for our kids. The opportunity to learn from someone like Coach Lucius Allen is rare. I believe the lessons learned today will stick with the students for the rest of their lives.”

    The NYFA Basketball team felt the experience was a special one as well. Coach Allen remarked, “The kids were great. They were receptive, respectful to each other, and very competitive.”

    That sentiment of creating positive change within the community is a cornerstone of the New York Film Academy’s Athletics Program. Through the Athletic Leadership Development Program (ALDP), NYFA students are encouraged to seek out opportunities where they can give back as a team. With that goal in mind, the basketball team will also be creating Valentine’s Day cards for children at a local hospital.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank HOLA and Coach Allen for giving our students a chance to pay it forward.

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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: 1073

  • New York Film Academy Alum Writes For Military Blog We Are The Mighty

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    Orientation with Jack Jacobs

    NYFA Veteran Students with Col. Jack Jacobs (NYFA Chair of Veteran Advancement Program)

    Everybody knows by now that the Internet is filled with countless blogs, from globally famous media companies to ones covering even the tiniest of niches. But there’s at least one blog that’s doing great work serving an often overlooked yet large and vitally important demographic—the United States military community.

    The blog, We Are The Mighty, is for veterans, servicemen and women, and their families, and covers everything from military news to pop culture, with both thoughtfully penned articles and silly, amusing listicles. Overall, WATM’s mission statement is “Celebrating military service with stories that inspire,” but in doing so, it’s also provided a way for the community to congregate, communicate, and share their ideas and views through its site and social media.

    NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alum Tim Kirkpatrick

    Tim Kirkpatrick is one of the writers for We Are The Mighty, and has already built an impressive portfolio of articles. Kirkpatrick is a Navy veteran, having entered as a Hospital Corpsman in 2007. In the fall of 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.

    After coming back stateside, Kirkpatrick enrolled at the New York Film Academy and earned his AFA degree in filmmaking from our Los Angeles campus. Honing his skills even further, Kirkpatrick followed his filmmaking education with NYFA’s 8-Week Screenwriting workshop.

    Putting those writing skills to good use, Kirkpatrick has written multiple blog pieces for We Are The Mighty, including “6 of the Funniest Comedic Military Sketches Ranked” and “5 Things You Didn’t Know About the Navy Medal of Honor.”

    One of his most recent pieces is about the New York Film Academy itself, highlighting the Academy’s relationship to the Military and veteran community. As Kirkpatrick mentions in his article, “At any given time, NYFA caters to over 200 veterans in the student body and the school takes pride in putting a camera in their hands on the first day of class,” while also adding that NYFA has enrolled over 1500 veterans and dependents of veterans in total.

    The Military and veteran community is an important part of the NYFA family. Kirkpatrick mentions in his article the Academy’s V.S.A., or Veteran Student Association, where vets from different branches of the armed forces come together over their shared love of film and the visual arts.

    Kirkpatrick also shouts out the venerable Colonel Jack Jacobs, who in addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.

    The Military and the film industry are a more natural pairing than some may suspect. Kirkpatrick writes, “As in the Military, the film industry uses a precise chain of command for its operational purposes, so vets feel right at home on set — hierarchy and order (and yes, even paperwork) have been branded into their solid work ethic.”

    You can check out Tim Kirkpatrick and the other writers at We Are The Mighty here.

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    January 26, 2018 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 1583