On Thursday, October 24, New York Film Academy played host to veteran game developer Antonio “Tony” Barnes.
Barnes came to speak at NYFA as part of the school’s Masters of Game Design program. The Masters of Game Design is a speaker series in which distinguished members of the gaming industry visit for an informal chat with NYFA Game Design instructor Scott Rogers about their careers in gaming.
The event was attended by over 45 students and industry professionals who have been invited by the school. Barnes and Rogers talked about Barnes’ 30-year career, starting with his early days of making his own games, followed by his work at Crystal Dynamics, EA, The Collective, THQ, Double Helix, and other AAA companies. He has worked on hit games, including Medal of Honor (2010) and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Barnes gave students advice on how to pitch games and how to be an effective creative director. Additionally, he discussed his recent IGDA BIG Lifetime Achievement award. Audience attendees were then invited to ask Barnes questions.
New York Film Academy thanks veteran game developer Tony Barnes for taking the time to share his experience and expertise with our students!
A special screening of Netflix’s hit series, Medal of Honor, was held at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Theater in New York City last week, hosted by NYFA’S Division of Veteran Services (DVS).
Commissioner Loree Sutton MD (Brigadier General Ret.) of New York City’s Department of Veteran Services and Medal of Honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.) participated in an unfeigned discussion with attendees after the screening of Episode 8, which featured the heroic story of Staff Sergeant Ty Cater, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama in 2013 for his heroic actions in Afghanistan.
Reflecting on the Medal of Honor experience from a personal perspective, Colonel Jack Jacobs, who has been the Chair of New York Film Academy’s Veteran Advancement Program since 2014, and is also an on-air Military Analyst at MSNBC/NBC news, answered questions from the audience along side the Commissioner Sutton.
NYFA Acting for Film alum Tyler Williams, who portrays Ty Carter in the episode, not only conveyed the authentic challenges service members face in their transition back from combat, but will be screening the episode with veteran students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus on February 11.
“A successful transition home is important not only to veterans, but the families and communities they return to,” asserted Commissioner Sutton, an Army psychiatrist and a fierce advocate in New York City for services that protect and empower returning service members.
Attendees engaged openly with the Commissioner Sutton and Colonel Jacobs in a series of questions that ranged from the philosophical (“Do you think that Plato was right when he stated that only the dead have seen the end of war?”) to the pragmatic (“How do vets leverage the skills they learned in the military if they want to work in film and television?”)
Both speakers believe the arts offered great opportunities for healing. Army veteran Justin Ford, a NYFA Filmmaking & Producing conservatory grad, enthusiastically stated, “It was a really great opportunity to hear Commissioner Sutton’s and Colonel Jacobs’ thoughts about the Medal of Honor, war, and returning home from the defining moment of many young veteran’s life—combat.”
The Netflix screening and special quest speakers made for a very moving and emotional evening, which was made all the more special by a touching and warm exchange of military challenge coins that passed reciprocally between Colonel Jacobs and Commissioner Sutton at the event’s conclusion.
New York Film Academy students can attend another screening of Medal of Honor at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus on February 11, with special guest Tyler Williams — you can RSVP for the event here.
New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Tyler Williams can be seen in the new Netflix series, Medal of Honor, a docudrama anthology series based on real life servicemen who have earned the military’s highest award for valor. It’s perfect casting for the Robert Zemeckis-produced series, as Williams isn’t just a graduate of NYFA’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting for Film program, but a military veteran as well.
Shortly after 9/11, Williams joined the Marine Corps, where he was eventually assigned to a top secret joint task force. After four years, Williams received an Honorable Discharge and attended business school full time in New Mexico.
After trying out for a local production starring Val Kilmer and Gary Cole for a small part as a Marine, Williams was asked to be the military technical consultant for the film, as well as a stand-in for Val Kilmer. It was his first film role and first time on a movie set. He tells NYFA, “I remember looking for the director like, ‘Who’s the General around here?’ I had no idea who did what on the set.” By the end of the shoot, Williams had fallen in love with acting for film.
The background casting director of Medal of Honor, looking to use actual veterans, had contacted New York Film Academy, knowing the school has enrolled nearly 2000 veteran students and military dependents since 2009. This was how Williams found himself on the set of the Netflix series as a background actor.
After one of the featured actors, Paul Wesley, was injured on set by a ricochet special effect, Williams was called over to double for him. After impressing the crew with his expertise around military weapons, he was invited to sit with the “stunt table” at lunch. By the end of that day’s shoot, Williams had been asked to do more stunts the following day. One complicated stunt Williams performed for the crew involved being yanked back while in a “jerk vest” to simulate being thrown back by an RPG explosion. “It looked amazing on camera!” Williams tells NYFA.
Williams credits not just his stunt classes at NYFA but also the school’s instruction in camerawork with helping him tailor his stunts to the specific scenes and set-ups.
Other film credits for Williams include the films Gamer, The Spirit, and MacGruber. Currently, Williams is working as a stunt coordinator on an MFA Thesis film, as well as auditioning for roles on major television series. He is also developing content for his YouTube channel, and advises fellow NYFA students and alumni to make their own content to help break into the industry.
“NO EXCUSES!” Williams exclaims. “Make that short film, write your own feature films, produce your own IG videos, make a YouTube channel — just get out there and use the editing and filmmaking knowledge we learned in school.”
The New York Film Academy congratulates Acting for Film alum Tyler Williams on his latest role in Netflix’s Medal of Honor and looks forward to watching his career develop!
New York Film Academy Los Angeles Veteran Students gathered in a Warner Bros. theater last night, Wednesday February 18th, for a special lecture from Medal of Honor Recipient and newly appointed Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs. The Colonel discussed his own experience in transitioning from military to civilian life and offered advice to NYFA veterans on the subject. Colonel Jacobs served in the U.S. Military for more than 20 years and his gallantry in Vietnam earned him the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest combat honor—two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. Colonel Jacobs is currently a military strategist and on-air analyst for NBC and MSNBC News. This special lecture was the first step in Colonel Jacobs’ mission at NYFA to support in veteran students’ transition from the military to an exciting career in the media.
The evening began with a screening of a short documentary that recounted the events in the Vietnam war and the Colonel Jacob’s valiant acts the resulted in him receiving the Medal of Honor. The Colonel’s personal, inspiring, and often times humorous talk covered many poignant topics. He emphasized his belief that military men and women are the most competent and hard working individuals in society, and that hiring a veteran is not an act of charity, as many feel, but a benefit to the employer.
Colonel Jacobs discussed the importance of veteran rehabilitation and the incorrect stigmas associated with war veterans. Knowing from his own personal experience, the transition from the brotherhood of the military in the most intense of circumstances to often times feeling completely alone afterwards in ordinary civilian life is extremely difficult. He also told many extraordinary stories from his own life such as when he met the Viet Cong commander who led the deadly ambush against his battalion 40 years after the Vietnam war. The night ended with a short documentary that included moving testimonials from Medal of Honor recipients including Colonel Jacobs, which expressed the importance of remembering those soldiers who acted selflessly for their country and in many cases sacrificed everything.
Afterwards, the Colonel talked personally with student veterans and took photos with them. It was a truly inspiring experience to witness and garner great knowledge from this legendary man in person. We look forward to the great work Colonel Jack Jacobs will do as the newly appointed Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program.