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  • “On the Other Side of the Wall” With Elizabeth Grimaldo

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    Elizabeth Grimaldo was already a household name in her native Panama when she came to study Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy, but since then her career has truly crossed international borders. Now based in Miami, the singer/songwriter and actress recently made her U.S. television debut on Telemundo NBC ’s Al Otro Lado Del Muro, tackling an intense storyline involving immigration, human trafficking, and unbreakable family love.

    Here, Elizabeth shares a bit of her amazing story with the NYFA Blog.

    Feliz Miercoles🌵🤗 📸: @mauricionovoaofficial

    A post shared by Elizabeth Grimaldo 🌻 (@lizagrimaldo) on

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?

    EG: I’ve been on TV since I was 12 years old as a singer, which is also my profession. It started in a national singing contest for kids (Canta Conmigo), which opened so many doors for my career in Panama. At the age of 15, I started acting in my first soap opera as the main character, and it was an amazing experience. My next big project, at the age of 18, was Romeo and Juliet the Musical as Juliet, at the national theater of Panama City. That was a dream come true, to perform there.

    That play turned on my hunger for the performing arts, and I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to this field. One month after the play finished, I went straight to the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    NYFA: Do you have a favorite NYFA moment from your time studying with us? Or did anything about your program particularly surprise and challenge you?

    EG: Many things were challenging. Acting is hard work, and not many people understand what it really takes to build a character who is nothing like you and convince an audience that it’s “real.”

    I remember one of my coaches, Michael, used to challenge me a lot — which I am grateful for, because I admire him as a person and professional. He was so passionate in every class, every detail, and most important, he wanted us to do what it takes to be great. He cared and wanted us to succeed. He told us once, “Imagine all the secrets that someone would need to know about you to play you perfectly.”

    That was the most challenging part for me, because I realized in that moment how far I was from knowing my character. I realized what it takes to do the job. It’s not acting; its life, and a lot of research.

    NYFA: Before coming to NYFA, you acted in Panama’s Summer Dreams. How has your process changed regarding performing, since your studies and other experiences in Miami?

    EG: It’s totally different. I started to act without having studied acting. Now that I have studied acting (which you never stop doing), I wish I could go back and do it again with what I know now. It’s been a satisfying and fun process.

    NYFA: For our international student community, can you offer any advice on studying in the U.S.? Can you tell us a little bit about your experience of coming from Panama to NYFA Los angeles?

    EG: It was the best decision of my life. It’s hard yes, but it’s so worth it.

    I know it’s scary to leave home and pursue a dream by yourself out there, but let me tell you something: it’s going to change your life in so many positive ways! I accept that I felt overwhelmed many times missing home and feeling lonely, but all those situations that I went through back then in Los Angeles made me the strong, independent, and passionate woman that I am today.

    NYFA made me grow as a professional and a human being. I learned so many things and I am grateful and happy for it.

    NYFA: How did your experience on Canta Conmigo come about? What was it like achieving second place?

    EG: It was amazing. It changed my life, basically. So many doors opened for me after. Since then my career in Panama has been accepted and successful, thanks Gob and to the people that has been supporting me since the beginning. I feel blessed that I have been able to represent my country in the U.S. and make them proud.

    NYFA: As a singer and musician, what most inspires your work?

    EG: I could say experiences, in every sense of word, which led me to start writing songs. It’s funny because that process started when I was at NYFA living by myself for the first time. I wrote my first songs back then.

    I use to think I couldn’t write lyrics, but I was wrong. Experiences are necessary to tell stories from the heart.

    But what inspires me the most is my mom. She is my drive, the one who encouraged me to do this and helped me in everything. She believed in me since I was three years old and sang for the first time, Cucurrucucu Paloma. Everything I do is dedicated to her.

    NYFA: Can you tell us how your work with Telemundo came about, and a bit about your character?

    EG: This February I had my debut on American television in the Telemundo NBC series Al Otro Lado Del Muro, which means “the other side of the wall.” I still don’t have words to express how happy I am for this opportunity. It was an honor to work with renowned actors such as Gabriel Porras, Litzy Martinez, Marjorie De Sousa and Adriana Barraza, the Oscar nominee for the movie Babel, who was my coach here in Miami at her school Adriana Barraza Black Box. Being able to work with Adriana on my first job was a dream come true.

    The series talks about immigrants and their different stories. My character is Raquel Aranda, a Salvadoran immigrant who arrives in the U.S., running from the human trafficking. Later, she is separated from her family and unjustly deported to Mexico. She tries to cross the border, again facing dangers in order to be with her family and her one-month old child.

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  • Insomnia on STARZ Executive Produced by New York Film Academy Alum Slava N. Jakovleff

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    Many artists dream of creating something entirely original, but to realize that dream on prime-time television is extra special. New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Filmmaking grad Slava N. Jakovleff has done just that, distributing not one but two of his original series to major networks; Siberia, to NBC, and Insomnia, now seen worldwide on STARZ.

    Here, Slava shares some of the amazing story behind producing his hit series with the NYFA Blog.

    *Please note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity.

    INSOMNIA | TV SERIES | TRAILER 1 [HD] | STARZ from Slava Jakovleff on Vimeo.

    NYFA: First, can you tell us a little bit your journey, and what brought you to NYFA?

    Slava: I wanted to be an actor — this is my passion. I graduated as an actor after four years at one of the best and most famous Russian acting schools in Saint Petersburg, and then got a PhD as an acting and voice teacher. I always thought about directing and producing. I figured out that the knowledge of acting and directing was not enough to make my dream happen. I needed to study filmmaking. And where is the best place to do it? Of course in Los Angeles, the global center of the film industry.

    I checked online resources and found that New York Film Academy had Filmmaking courses at Universal Studios. So, I joined the school at 36. Yes! At 36. It’s never too late to learn.

    NYFA: You wear many hats, as an actor, director, and producer. What inspires you about these various roles, and how does changing between them inform your work?

    Slava: It’s great that now I know something more about acting, directing, and producing. I know how to play, how to be an actor on the set or on the stage. For me, acting is an absolutely phenomenal state of mind. To me, it’s not a job! It’s a state of mind, of soul. Acting is a study of the human soul. This is the first and inner circle.

    Acting really helps me to direct. I’m more an actor’s director than just a director; I love actors and love to work with them. Directing makes it possible to not only deliver the story and actors’ emotions to the audience, but also to make the audience think, laugh, or cry — in short, feel something — while watching a screen or a stage. This is the second circle, a bit wider.

    Producing is the third, wide circle, and gives me the opportunity to care for the first two circles and bring all of these three circles to the audience.

    NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?

    Slava: I loved how the learning process was organized at the Academy. I got so much professional information in such a short time.

    NYFA: Before establishing yourself in Hollywood, you worked as an actor in Russia. How did you navigate that transition from one industry to another, including acting in another language?

    Slava: Yes, I was a pretty established actor at that time in Russia. When I moved to LA for business reasons, only one thing was important to me: I wanted to establish myself in Hollywood as a producer and director. … But regarding acting as a whole, if you are a professional, educated actor, it doesn’t matter in which language you act. It’s only about the professionalism.

    NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about your company, Welldone Production?

    Slava: I founded Welldone Production as my own company in 2004, during my time at NYFA, as a filmmaking company.

    The first project I did in LA was a stage play called The Last Night of The Last Tsar, a mysterious story about the last night of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II Romanov and his family — and what happened with the lead executioner, Yurovsky, exactly 20 years after the execution. We played 6 weeks at the Stella Adler Theater in 2005. It was a successful run, and I told myself, “Let’s start to write the script for my own feature film.” We are now in pre-production. I rewrote the script many times since the start, researching historical information and studying archives. And now I am completely happy with the script I have, titled Swampy Roads. It seems like a very long journey just for one project, but I am completely satisfied and proud of that.

    At the same time, my company and I did many projects in Russia and the U.S. One of them was my first TV project here in Hollywood, Siberia (2013), where I was an executive producer and director of some episodes. Siberia was completely independently financed, and afterward the show was bought by NBC for prime-time airing. It was the first time that a Russian producer sold his own independent TV show to NBC. I am very proud of that.

    Siberia TV Series_NBC_ Official Trailer from Slava Jakovleff on Vimeo.

    NYFA: As executive producer and director for STARZ series Insomnia, what inspired you to take on this project? 

    Slava: Insomnia was also a completely independently financed TV series, and when the show was completely ready it was picked up by STARZ.

    My Russian friend, a producer, showed me a story on which he was working at that time. I loved the concept, because I thought this could work for any audience around the globe. I bought the license from him to make an English version, and invited an American-Canadian writing team to rework the story. At the end we got a deep, very edgy psychological thriller, an action story with sci-fi elements.

    I knew that not everyone would like this story, and some networks and streaming platforms would be afraid to put it on the air, saying that the story is too extreme for them. My team and I tried to show the truth that human life costs nothing in modern life. My entire team, cast, and crew members — including one of the best directors of cinematography, Primetime Emmy winner John S. Bartley (LOST, X-Files, Bites Motel), and one of the best casting directors, Primetime Emmy winner Stephanie Gorin (Fargo) — tried to make it happen. I understood that many of us would not like to hear the truth. I really do not like it either, but I needed to say this about it to sort it out myself. I needed to say it without any “politeness” and “polishing.” I wanted to make the viewer think and draw conclusions.

    After the show was done, STARZ picked up the series for worldwide distribution. I am very proud of that.

    NYFA: Were there any challenges along the way in bringing Insomnia to Starz?

    Slava: Bringing any projects to any network or distributor is a big challenge for every team, and this project was no exception.

    The story of Insomnia was set for filming in Washington D.C., but when I was scouting locations there I realized it was impossible. I took a week-long break and announced to my team that the show would be filmed in Moscow, Russia, and the first day of filming should be June 1. This was a real challenge: the team was booked for principal filming starting on April 15 in D.C.

    We had only six weeks for making changes in the script, finding a local Russian production company, organizing to bring the entire American-Canadian team to Moscow, rescheduling the production, new location scouting, language problems (as we had two teams), etc. But we went through all these incredible difficulties (just imagine the problem with visas or understanding between two different languages and mentalities on set) and began to shoot exactly as planned, on June 1.

    Then we figured out that Insomnia is not just the title of this series, but actually what became a way of life for the cast and crew! Filming for all eight episodes took place over 68 working days, 2/3 of which were night shoots. We needed to shoot everything by the end of August, as the story takes place during four consecutive summer days. Management of the production was critical, as filming night scenes during the summer in Moscow was challenging — some nights only had around 2-3 hours of darkness, and the weather is unstable: the sun, clouds, and storms.

    The entire show was filmed in Moscow, with scenes set in New York and Cambodia being filmed on sets. We were able to film in unique locations, such as Red Square and near the Kremlin, Bolshoi Theatre, the Federal Assembly of Russian Federation, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, the Four Seasons, and the Ritz Carlton Presidential Suite with its authentic view of the Kremlin and Bolshoi Theatre — no other foreign production companies have been allowed to film in this location before. By the way, Insomnia’s production company, Welldone Production, is the only foreign production company in the last 20 years to be able to film in the highly secure Red Square.

    All explosions, car crashes, gunshots, and underwater scenes were filmed without CGI, and all action scenes were filmed by the main unit team (we didn’t have second unit).

    Then, we spent months editing the series here in Los Angeles in one of the best post-production facilities in town: Burnish Creative. They’re such a talented, professional, and passionate young team. When the show was picked by STARZ, we entered the delivery process and had to go through quality control. It was such a great challenge and big experience.

    The series employed 720 people from nine countries and filmed around 750 total scenes. And I want to again say thank you to my entire team and the people who worked for Insomnia.

    NYFA: What is your best advice for NYFA students who are interested in following your footsteps and founding their own production companies, in Hollywood or elsewhere?

    Slava: In short I can say: break the rules (which is very tough sometimes), and never give up.

    NYFA: Would you say your time at NYFA was at all useful in preparing for the work you are doing now?

    Slava: No doubt!

    NYFA: Anything I missed that you would like to speak on?

    Slava: Many years ago, when we were young, my army friend, on the day when we finished our service in the tank troops, gave me a simple drawing of our tank with the inscription, “Follow your star!” Here I am, still following.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank Slava N. Jakovleff for his generous interview.

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  • SnapChat Breaking News, NBC Bakersfield and More: Updates From New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism School

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    I have said before — and I’m about to say again — that I have “seen the future” of electronic journalism, and it is “on the phone.”
    The folks at NowThis were among the first companies to build a business on this realization. The notion began at the HuffPost, when that successful online publication decided to start producing full motion video. But it chose to emulate MSNBC’s liberal-chat format. (A decision that proved wrong…) That led a key member of the creative team to jump ship, and help create NowThis, which targets people who get their news on the phone.

    Last week Axios reported that NowThis is launching a breaking news channel on Snapchat. Why? Because, increasingly, people don’t view news “on the phone.” Rather, they view news via an app on their phone. And what better app to ally themselves with than Snapchat? It looks to be a very smart move…

    Meanwhile Ad Age, an old-style print magazine about the advertising industry that has reinvented itself as an online source of media information, reports that Google is stepping up its game when it comes to covering news. The Google Newsstand app is said to be on the way out, and a new app is on the way which will be faster and have more video content. Full-motion video is the “secret sauce” that attracts digital viewers. Printed pages with the occasional photo or graphic, not so much. This is why we teach NYFA Broadcast Journalism students to be multimedia Journalists (MMJs).
    The Poynter Institute is one of the leading journalism research institutes in the United States. A recent post had the headline, New York Times Co. is dipping a toe into television production. There are two fascinating aspects to this story. The first is that The Times is using digital platforms (podcasts, feature-style films) not to report the news, but to bolster their image as an outstanding source of unbiased reporting. They don’t see these efforts as potential profit centers as much as ways of shaping public perceptions about The Times. It is certainly not conventional television news.
    And that’s the second tantalizing aspect of the story. Unreported — and perhaps unknown to the reporter — was that The Times started a subsidiary to produce long-form TV news programming back in the 1990s. For a variety of reasons, it didn’t work out. Its founder, a long-time friend and former PBS colleague, would go on to do quite well sans The Times. You may have heard of a little thing he helped create called NY1?
    And speaking of news, we got some last week from NYFA graduate Karen Hua. She just got her first on-air reporting job:
    Some personal breaking news … In just two weeks, I’ll be starting as an on-air reporter for the NBC station in Bakersfield, California! Thank you to my mentors, teachers, and dearest friends for supporting and encouraging me this past year … ENDLESS thanks, Bill. Can’t say it enough —  literally would not be here without you, or Evgenia!  

    NYFA Broadcast Journalism alum Karen Hua.

    I should point out that Karen is a graduate of our 12-week Evening Broadcast Journalism program. Proof that, if you want to reinvent yourself while working a day job, learning key content creation skills can help you get to where you want to go. (In this case, Bakersfield, California … which I am confident is just the first step up the ladder, and back to NYC!)
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    May 7, 2018 • Academic Programs, Broadcast Journalism • Views: 785

  • Aspiring Broadcast Journalists Learn the Ropes with Colonel Jack Jacobs at MSNBC/NBC Studios

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    Veterans and Active Duty military students from New York Film Academy and local New York City community colleges were hosted by Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of NYFA Veteran Advancement Program, at the famed 30 Rock Studios in New York City to explore career paths in television news and media outlets with a guided tour of one of the most watched news outlets in the United States — MSNBC/NBC. Colonel Jacobs is one of this nation’s most highly decorated service members; his valor in the Vietnam War led to his being a recipient of the Medal of Honor. Colonel Jacobs is currently the on-air military analyst at MSNBC/NBC.

    broadcast journalism

    NYFA students tour MSNBC/NBC studios

    Led through the historic hallways of NBC studios, students interested in careers in television were introduced to the fast-paced world of 24-hour news production by Colonel Jacobs, who offered insights to the next generation of aspiring television producers about the ins-and-outs of a dynamic and evolving business.

    Attendees received a behind the scenes look at the various newsrooms and studio sets for such iconic television shows as the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Morning Joe,” “AM Joy, and” “The Rachel Maddow Show”. The visit included a glimpse of the famed “Saturday Night Live” studios.

    “Now is the best time to be involved in television, in media in general,” lauded the Colonel. “Content is king. There are an increasing number of distributors out there; Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and they all need content!”

    His words did not fall on deaf ears as the veteran students in attendance were eager to learn as much as they could about careers in television—embracing previously unexplored opportunities that match the skills they honed at the New York Film Academy.

    “When you dream about working in film and television and you have no idea what the first step is–sometimes all you need is just to be in the same room with the people that do it, to see it with your own eyes. This makes that dream tangible, something real that you can touch, something that you can reach out and grab. It makes it obtainable,” remarked André Morissette, NYFA BFA Acting for Film student and veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

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    April 6, 2017 • Acting, Veterans • Views: 2850

  • NYFA Producing Department Students Tour NBC Studios At 30 Rock

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    A group of One Year Producing students recently toured the NBC studios at legendary 30 Rockefeller Plaza led by NBC and MSNBC on air talent and editorial consultant Col. Jack Jacobs. Colonel Jacobs is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program, and is one of our nation’s most decorated military servicemembers—including being a recipient of the Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military award.

    nbc news

    photo by Marc Frattini

    NYFA producers and Department Chair Neal Weisman got a behind the scenes look at the various newsroom and studio sets for such iconic television shows as the “Today Show,” “NBC Nightly News,” “Morning Joe,” “AM Joy,” “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and a glimpse of the famed “Saturday Night Live” studios. Already familiar with multi-camera studio broadcast techniques from their television production classes at NYFA’s New York City Battery Park campus, students got up front and personal with the state-of-the-art professional control rooms, switchers, robotic cameras, and other equipment that bring NBC shows into the nation’s living rooms every day.

    nbc tour nyfa

    photo by Marc Frattini

    Mr. Weisman stated, “in keeping with the Producing Department’s philosophy of emphasizing practical and pragmatic knowledge, skills, and tools — nothing beats observing world class professionals at work. This has been an invaluable experience for our producers as they get ready to enter the Industry.”

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    January 18, 2017 • Community Highlights, Producing • Views: 2681

  • Highlights from the 2015 NYFA Broadcast Journalism School

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    You have probably noticed that, as the holidays approach, many news programs are offering “year in review” stories. There are two reasons for this… First, from a news perspective, things are slow. Even the President of the United States is taking two weeks of vacation. Second, among those also on vacation are a large number of reporters, producers and anchors who normally staff TV news programs. Retrospective stories require little new shooting, and can be done well prior to their air date.

    In that great tradition, here is a look back at the year 2015 and what it held for NYFA Broadcast Journalism alumni, as well as our current students.

    colli

    George Colli NBC Connecticut

    Among the most recent events is NYFA alum George Colli‘s move from NBC-Connecticut to the Washington, DC bureau of Cox Media Group. With 15 stations located across the United States, Cox is a major player in local and regional news. George is going to be in the middle of all the 2016 Presidential year politics. Congratulations, George!
    trt turkey

    Beytullah Bayar on the set of his sports show on the TRT network in Turkey

    Meanwhile, Beytullah Bayar looks great (as usual) on the set of his sports show on the TRT network in Turkey. The network has just gone over to HD, to better feature Beyt’s collection of fine ties. He is also doing a weekly radio sports show.
    Celine Liv Danielsen

    Celine Liv Danielsen

    Celine Liv Danielsen was co-host of the “alternative” coverage of Denmark’s recent national elections.
    Emilie Olsson

    Emilie Olsson

    While Emilie Olsson is working with TV 4 in Stockholm, Sweden.
    Andras Takacs

    Andras Takacs

    Andras Takacs was honored, along with his production partner, for their series On The Spot at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival. Andras — who is from Budapest, Hungary — credits the camera, editing and reporting skills he learned at NYFA for the success of the series.
    nicole cross

    Dr. Nicole Cross is now at the ABC affiliate in Monroe, Louisiana

    Closer to home, Dr. Nicole Cross is now at the ABC affiliate in Monroe, Louisiana. She co-anchors the morning news, and anchors the noon news, for a station that covers portions of three states. And she is all over social media. You go, Nicole!
    liz rose

    liz rose

    Videographer/editor/producer Liz Rose spent her Summer on the high seas, working with Celebrity Cruise Lines. After a mountain climbing trip with her mother, I understand she will be off to the Rio Olympics next year.
    Flavia Renata Perez

    Flavia Renata Perez

    And speaking of Brazil, Flavia Renata Perez proves that you don’t always have to “dress up” to have on-camera impact. (Plus she was nice enough to wear a t-shirt honoring one of the rock bands of my teenage years!)
    patricia saad

    Patricia Saad

    Patricia Saad was very au courant as she shot a roof-top stand-up earlier this month. (Proving, just like in New York, “black is the new black” when it comes to fashion.)
    Paula Varejao

    Paula Varejao

    And Paula Varejao obviously is having no problem getting “air time.”
    Nour Idriss on CBS Evening News

    Nour Idriss is working on the CBS Evening News

    Over at the CBS Broadcast Center on West 57th Street here in Manhattan, Nour Idriss is working on the CBS Evening News. And while she isn’t currently anchoring the show, if I were Scott Pelly I’d be looking over my shoulder…
    msnbc with nyfa

    NYFA students at MSNBC

    As for our current students, we were able to get an exclusive “behind-the-scenes” tour of NBC News, and spent time on the MSNBC set.
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    NYFA students (and super TA Genia Vlasova) also attended a studio session of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore

    A number of students (and super TA Genia Vlasova) also attended a studio session of The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. There’s nothing like being in New York…
    einreinhofer

    Broadcast Journalism Chair Bill Einreinhofer

    That’s a little bit of what took place this year. We look forward to another strong year from both our Broadcast Journalism students and alumni!
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  • NBC Visits NYFA in Search of Diverse Talent

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    nbc diversity

    NBC’s Grace Moss presenting NBC’s Diversity Initiative Programs

    This past Thursday, March 19th at the New York Film Academy in Union Square, our students, alumni and faculty were treated to an informational session on NBC’s Entertainment Diversity Programs hosted by Grace Moss.

    The goal of their initiatives is to increase diversity on the network through programs like Writers on the Verge, the Directing Fellowship Program, NBCU Short Film Festival and Scene Showcase.

    Grace was able to break down each program with her informative presentation, and answered questions from the audience. She even answered specific one on one questions for students after the presentation.

    nbc diversity

    The New York Film Academy strongly recommends its students of diversity apply to these programs, as it is an amazing opportunity to break into the industry on a serious level.

    Below are just a handful of the programs Grace highlighted in her presentation:

    DIRECTING FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM The Directing Fellowship Program is designed to take directors accomplished in their respective fields (features, commercials and/or music videos) and give them the opportunity to work alongside episodic television directors. The selected directors will foster relationships and fine-tune their art to fit the television format.

    NBCUNIVERSAL SHORT FILM FESTIVAL The Short Cuts Film Festival is an initiative to discover diverse voices both in front of and behind the camera. It provides creative individuals of diverse backgrounds an opportunity to get their materials in front of key decision makers from the entire NBCUniversal family, as well as agents, managers, producers, and other industry players.

    WRITERS ON THE VERGE Writers on the Verge is a 12-week program focused on polishing writers and readying them for a staff writer position on a television series. We are looking for writers who are “almost there,” but need that final bit of preparation with their writing and personal presentation skills.

    LATE NIGHT WRITERS WORKSHOP The NBCUniversal Late Night Writers Workshop is a program focused on exposing talented joke, sketch and comedy writers to NBCUniversal’s late-night & alternative lineup and readying them for a staff writer position.

    NBC SCENE SHOWCASE A 6-8 week workshop of original scenes by diverse writers, cast with up-and-coming actors and guided by directors of diverse backgrounds presented in a one-day showcase for executives, producers, casting directors, and other industry professionals.

     

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    March 20, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4795

  • Q&A with Parks and Recreation Star and Former Student Aubrey Plaza

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    aubrey plazaThere’s no prouder moment for the New York Film Academy than seeing our very own break through the walls of Hollywood to become a household name. Such is the case with Parks and Recreation star, Aubrey Plaza. At a young age, Aubrey has already had the privilege of working with incredible talent like Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Nick Offerman, and many others. In addition to her breakout role as April on NBC’s Park and Recreation, Aubrey has worked on major productions, including Funny People, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Portlandia, and is currently in pre-production on a new series called Welcome to Sweden.

    While there is never a direct path to stardom, it’s always interesting to hear everyone’s unique path to success. Recently, NYFA had the opportunity to catch up with the former NYFA acting student through an exclusive Q&A, which can be read in its new Student Resources section.

    In the Q&A, Aubrey talks about being an actress, her affection for Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh, and which Parks & Rec star she thinks is an asshole. (Hint: it’s not Amy Poehler.)

    CLICK HERE to read the Q&A in its entirety.

     

     

     

     

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    June 27, 2014 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4543

  • How David Marshall Grant’s Persistence Led to His Success

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    This Monday, the New York Film Academy hosted a screening of ABC’s Brothers and Sisters with executive producer/show-runner David Marshall Grant. The event was moderated by Producer, Tova Laiter.

    In addition to Grant’s success in television as Executive Producer/show-runner of NBC’s Smash and ABC’s Brothers & Sisters, he is an accomplished actor and playwright. His first play, Snakebit, was nominated for both a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award. His second play, Current Events, was produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club in 2000. His most recent play, Pen, opened in 2006 at Playwrights Horizons. As an actor, Grant is best known for playing opposite Richard Gere in Broadway’s Bent and for his Tony-nominated performance in Angels in America. His acting credits include film and television work in such projects as The Devil Wears Prada, The Stepford Wives, The Rock, Air America, And the Band Played On, Citizen Cohn, thirtysomething, Eli Stone, and Party Down.

    david grantAfter attending the Yale School of Drama, David went to the Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference in Connecticut where he did a workshop of Bent. He was very lucky to experience immediate success right out of school when the production, which was bound for Broadway, asked him to star opposite Richard Gere. “So much of life is what fate brings you, and so much of life is what you bring when fate shows up,” said Grant.

    It was during his time at the playwright’s conference that David became fascinated with story and by the idea that the way an actor’s mind thought could actually help you as a writer. This kept gnawing at him until one summer he began to write a play. He wrote 23 pages the first day, assuming he could have the production up and running in no time. However, he ended up working on the play for five years and it was never produced despite his efforts.

    When his acting career stalled after Bent, David started taking writing more seriously. His second play was entitled, Snakebit. It was twelve years before this film was produced on a very small scale at Grove Street Theater in New York. There was an audience of 53 people. One of these people was Peter Marks of The New York Times. Marks wrote a great review of the play, and the next day everyone was calling David. It seemed there was a renewed interest in him.

    At the time, David was auditioning for episodic television and not getting the parts, so he decided to “open the door that wasn’t locked” and become a writer. Although, even that became an immense struggle for David. Five or six years later, John Robin Bates called David and asked him if he wanted to be a story editor on Brothers and Sisters, and he hasn’t stopped working since then.

    David always tries to impress on his students that, “Failure is the norm,” and this industry is a long game. “You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize, and if it doesn’t happen today, it might not happen for the next five years. But that doesn’t mean you give up.”

    David was also one of the first brave actors to play gay characters, like he did in Bent, when other actors (straight or gay) wouldn’t. This was also at a point when David hadn’t been out with the public. In thirtysomething, David took the opportunity to play a gay character, even though he was convinced it would ruin his career. He brought up the point that there hasn’t been a major movie actor that has come out yet. You can’t be Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise and be known as gay.

    QUESTION: Can you give advice to actors who want to transition into producing?

    DAVID: An actor’s job should always be to figure out how he or she can support the STORY—understand what your place in the story is. You are a part of the larger thing—and that thing is everything—STORY.

    QUESTION: What are some of the roles of a show-runner?

    DAVID: Your first job is to come up with a story every week. You follow the story. Also, it’s about navigating personalities—the demands of the studio and the actors on the script. That’s what the show-runner does. In the process of pushing that story up the hill, he deals with every human being that touches that story.

    David’s story was inspirational in regards to the success one can achieve in this industry through endurance and never giving up. He made the point to say that you must consciously inspire yourself. “It really works by failing every single day, until the world sees,” he concluded.

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    October 11, 2013 • Acting, Film School, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Musical Theatre, Screenwriting • Views: 8766