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  • Rob Reiner Visits the New York Film Academy

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    Legendary director Rob Reiner visited New York Film Academy and shared an advance screening of his upcoming film, The Magic of Belle Isle, a comedy-drama starring Morgan Freeman and Virginia Madsen. He also sat with students to watch the film before spending over 2 hours answering their questions!

    rob reiner

    Rob found fame as an actor in the landmark television series All In the Family, but went on to become the acclaimed director of influential films, ranging from the pure comedy of This Is Spinal Tap and The Princess Bride to the intense drama of Stand By Me, Misery, A Few Good Men, and Ghosts of Mississippi; from the romantic comedy of When Harry Met Sally, The American President, and Flipped to the poignant comedy-drama, The Bucket List.

    Though he was asked questions about many of his films, Rob named Stand By Me as one of his favorite film projects. When asked about working with the film’s young cast, Rob said, “You can teach them craft, but you can’t teach them talent,” and went on to speak glowingly of the film’s young stars. He continued, “It was turned down by all of the studio heads. I thought, ‘I don’t know if anyone will see it, but I like it.’”

    Rob told stories about growing up with his talented father, writer/actor/director Carl Reiner, saying, “My father was on television before we owned a television! We bought a television so we could see him on television.” Rob said he learned the art of storytelling on the set of The Dick Van Dyke Show, where his father was the writer. He also said he learned from his films’ stars, praising Kathy Bates, Morgan Freeman, and Jack Nicholson (complete with a spot-on Nicholson impression!).

    Rob also thanked the students for their intriguing questions about the art of filmmaking, saying, “Usually I turn up at these events and I just get asked how to get an agent!”

    -Joe Hui

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    March 22, 2012 • Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 2384

  • Evelyne Binsack: Defeating Mt. Everest and Reaching New Heights

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    Evelyne Binsack Rock ClimbingDocumentary student Evelyne Binsack was already a celebrity before attending New York Film Academy. In 2001, she became the first Swiss woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. She also spent four months crossing Antarctica to reach the South Pole. She is the author of Expedition Antarctica and Steps on the Edge, and has been featured in a number of documentaries about her adventures. She speaks 3 languages and is also a helicopter pilot. Until our interview, she didn’t know that she had been named as Switzerland’s fourth most famous person – not bad, considering the poll included musicians, politicians, and movie stars!

    Evelyne said she discovered her love of the outdoors in her native Switzerland. “A friend of mine took me to the mountains near home. I fell in love and thought that’s what I want to do: [be] outdoors having adventures.” At the time, Evelyne was a runner competing in the 800 and 1500-meter dash. “That was something very different — fighting against each other. In mountaineering, you’re fighting together. You can’t fight against each other. That’s something that impressed me, the contrast.”

    Evelyne found New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking program years later. “I was Googling in Europe,” she said. “Everything was three years for film programs, or… [very short] crash courses. What can you learn in one week? I decided to come here. I really enjoy the program… but as a country girl, it’s [hard] being in the city. Here, people live for the weekends, and Monday they feel like [crap]. Friends in my country don’t have this attitude. Most of my friends do what they love. They risked things to do what they love and they’re more happy. To see that people are just working for money, it hurts somehow. Take more risks and be passionate for what you do!”

    Despite the urban setting, Evelyne says she has already learned a lot in her first few months of school. “[Documentary instructors] Wendy Apple and Reuben Aaronson are great. They’re all fabulous. They have [a lot of] experience and it’s great to listen to them!” she said. She has already been putting her new knowledge to work as well. She explains, “I’ve been giving [lectures] for 10 years, and that’s how I make my income, but I didn’t know why some stories [wouldn’t] work. For my speeches it’s very helpful to know about structure and character arc. It helps me to understand why one story is good and why another story doesn’t work.”

    Evelyne admits to missing her adventures, saying, “I don’t like the word addiction, but somehow I’m addicted to the mountains and to climbing. I’m part of nature. If I’m not part of nature, I feel empty. It hurts.”

    After finishing the Documentary Filmmaking program at the end of the year, Evelyne will return to Switzerland, where she will plan for her next big adventure. “I want to traverse from Alps, cross the Caucuses, and find out stories about the sacred mountains of the Himalayas.”

    Check out a recent feature on Evelyne Binsack that aired on Swiss television, and get a behind-the-scenes look at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus!

    Evelyne Binsack Alps

    Evelyne Binsack Summit

    Evelyne Binsack Swiss Alps

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  • New York Film Academy’s Student Spotlight: Ana Paula Manzato

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    Ana Paula ManzatoAs we mentioned before, New York Film Academy is proud to be in lovely Rio de Janeiro. Throughout the week we’re showcasing our wonderful NYFA Brazilian students. Today we spoke with Ana Paula Manzato to catch up on her experience thus far at our Universal Studios, Los Angeles campus.

    How did you find out about NYFA?

    I first found out about NYFA on the internet and looked further to learn more about it at the STB (Student Travel Bureau) in Brazil. Then, I e-mailed NYFA with my inquiries and got the information that I needed.

    What attracted you to NYFA?
    The school structure, the location, the talks that the school offers the students, and I found Gabby Egito’s blog on the internet with plenty of information about the school. Some pictures that drew my attention to the school even more.

    What was your journey to NYFA from Brazil? What is your story?
    I studied Advertising and Marketing in Brazil and participated in so me activities and projects at the university. I took part in the production of a video clip that won three awards, including best picture. Since then I have been interested in film, photography, and production.

    What has been your NYFA experience?
    My journey has been intense and excellent! We learn all about the production of a film, from inserting a roll of film into the camera, up to its final edition. We produce our own films, screenplays, and cast our actors. The teachers are great, attentive and always willing to help us.

    To people in Brazil who want to come to NYFA, do you have any advice?
    If you want to learn more about filmmaking, NYFA is the right place. With outstanding structure and excellent teachers, we can really learn all there is to know about filmmaking. You learn something new every day and you are in close contact with different cultures and people.

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  • New York Film Academy’s Silu Yu Shines In China

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    Silu YuActress Silu Yu (余思潞) has found success after finishing New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Acting program in New York City. She explains, “After graduating in 2009 from NYFA, I moved to Los Angeles for work. I got my talent agent after an audition and I was very lucky to been approved by the SAG union after working three months. Due to family reasons, I moved back to China in 2010 and was signed by Star Shining International Talent Agency through a friend, one of the top talent agencies in China, and started the first steps in my acting career in China.”

    Since then, Silu landed a role in the big-budget Chinese feature film Scheme With Me. She is also currently in production on 30 episodes of the television program Shanghai Forest. The young actress has a hectic schedule, going from the set, to media interviews, as well as doing promotion for her recently-completed film.

    In an interview via email, Silu explained the difficulties of working in the film industry in China. “In Hollywood, the camera speaks for you,” said the actress. “The talent agency selects the idea candidates who may match the characters then you still need to go through an official audition to get the role. In China, you not only need an audition but also need a personal network and relationships.”
    “I really enjoyed myself a lot while I studied at NYFA!” said Silu. “Due to the culture and language difference, it took time for adjusting to others. I learned during this adjustment period and the lessons taught me so much about myself. Don’t lose confidence or question your appearance and flaws. A real artist will affect the audience with her soul and spirit, not just simply her looks.”

    Silu went on to share her thoughts on acting. “People always say that a good actor must be good at lying, but I think a good liar is not really a good actor. A real professional actor is performing the truth even truer than the truth. If an actor couldn’t believe the situation himself, how could he persuade the audience?  Being actors, we need to feel it from our hearts and make an authentic performance for the audience. So, don’t think we are liars!”

    Chinese readers can keep up with Silu’s growing success on Baidu and her official fan site.

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    March 14, 2012 • Acting • Views: 4296

  • New York Film Academy’s Top 5 Robert De Niro Acting Roles

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    Roger Del Pozo is the Director of Acting Admissions at the New York Film Academy. In addition to his work at NYFA, he has also been a casting director in New York for the last 10 years. In that time he has cast hundreds of television commercials, as well as films, plays, voice overs, video games, music videos and industrials for many of the top casting companies and advertising agencies in New York.

    1. MEAN STREETS — The original! De Niro’s first movie with Martin Scorsese is certainly one of his best. Johnny Boy jumps off the screen with such vitality and menace that it seems almost “too real” to be simply called a performance. Both hysterical and frightening, De Niro created a character that set the precedent for gritty, urban performances.  Some may argue he defined American acting from the 1970’s forward.
    2. TAXI DRIVER — De Niro’s iconic role is memorable for so many reasons. The delivery, the transformation, the impact on popular culture… The mohawk! Travis Bickle was immortalized as “God’s Lonely Man”. He frightens because he is so effortlessly real. Nothing about this character feels like a performance. De Niro famously drove a night-shift cab for months to prepare for this role. It shows. We don’t doubt him for a minute. Who can look at cabbies the same way again after watching this? 
    3. RAGING BULL — Of course the famous weight gain is impressive. Everything else about this powerhouse performance, however, also shines. De Niro won his first Best Actor statute portraying the troubled pugilist Jake LaMotta, and he definitely deserved it. The fight scenes are some of the most realistic ever filmed. Most importantly, he humanizes a man with very few redeeming qualities. A classic in every way.
    4. THE GODFATHER 2 — De Niro had huge shoes to fill playing the young version of Vito Corleone, a role made famous by his hero Marlon Brando. He didn’t disappoint. Winning his first Academy Award, he spoke entirely in Sicilian which he learned for the role. De Niro portrays a young Don driven by his need for power and revenge. It’s a study in quiet strength and menace. Undoubtedly, this role solidified De Niro as an actor for the ages. 
    5. GOODFELLAS — De Niro teamed up with Martin Scorsese once again. As the leader of career gangsters, he is chillingly and darkly hilarious. One of my all time favorite films, this film would’ve sunk without De Niro’s performance. Jimmy Conway is so vibrant and memorable that De Niro has parlayed his later career playing a version of this role in subsequent roles. 
    Do you agree with Roger? Give us your thoughts. Moreover, don’t forget to learn more about the acting program here.

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    March 8, 2012 • Acting • Views: 1855

  • New York Film Academy Celebrates Chinese New Years!

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    NYFA Chinese New Year

    Around 70 Chinese students and staff from New York Film Academy Los Angeles celebrated the Year of the Dragon at Ocean Star restaurant in Monterey Park. The Los Angeles suburb is home to the largest concentration of Chinese Americans in the nation, and is well known for its authentic Chinese food.

    According to Filmmaking Program Coordinator Rick Curnutt, “It was a great event. We had a very large turnout. It seems like our Chinese students got a little piece of home for this important Chinese holiday. A lot of the Chinese students hadn’t met each other yet, so it was a good chance for the students to integrate.”

    MFA Film student Shih-Yao Huang agreed, saying, “It was a great opportunity to meet people, especially because I’m in the producing program and we don’t have a lot of time to meet people in other programs. I was able to meet people who could share information with us. It had been a long time since I’ve eaten Chinese food. I really missed it, especially for the Chinese New Year.”

    Holiday Filmmaking student Shikong Chen joined in the festivities, and commented, “I really appreciated the New Year’s dinner. I acquired several friends now. I have to say it was a good ceremony!

    MFA Producing student Heshi Wang added, “It’s really touching to have Chinese New Year in California with Chinese students. I have met many new friends. I want to say thank you to Daphne, Franky, and all the instructors at NYFA!”

    NYFA Chinese New Year

    NYFA Chinese New Year

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    February 9, 2012 • Acting • Views: 4015

  • New York Film Academy Cinematography Graduate Shoots in Singapore

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    Thirty Second [NYFA Commercial] from Michael Zaw on Vimeo.

    New York Film Academy graduate Michael Zaw is actively working in the Singapore television industry as a Director of Cinematography. Since graduating from the January 2011 one-year cinematography course in New York, Michael has worked for the History Channel, Crime and Investigation Channel, Channel News Asia, and Singapore Local Channels.

    Michael says that formal training helped him to distinguish the choices he can make in filmmaking and the differences between techniques and elements. He adds, “I am proud that I was in NYFA…I miss NYFA and NY very very much. I kept in touch with all my classmates, I love them so much.”

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    February 9, 2012 • Acting • Views: 4051

  • 7 Hottest Australian Actors in Hollywood

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    Let’s face it: Australian actors are hot. And I don’t just mean physically. Australian actors are the buzz from Broadway stage icon Hugh Jackman to sexy Hollywood seductress Nicole Kidman. New York Film Academy has new filmmaking and acting one-year programs and short term workshops beginning in February 2012 in Australia, which has me wondering what bewitching talent will apply to this year’s workshop. Check out our ranking of the most irresistible Australian accents:

    1) Alex O’Loughlin. Ok, so maybe his IMDB doesn’t have the same prestige as Leonardo (DiCaprio – keep up) or Ben Affleck, but he played opposite Jennifer Lopez in The Back-Up Plan and had me swooning. Vampire fans out there should check out his Moonlight character. His best quality? O’Loughlin doesn’t talk about his relationships, past or present. It is nice to have a Hollywood actor keep his life private for once.

    2) Cate Blanchett. I don’t know many other actresses who can make a KGB agent (Indiana Jones), the Queen (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), and musician Bob Dylan (I’m Not There) all alluring characters. Half the time I don’t even realize I am watching Blanchett because she is so good at taking on different roles. Most seductive moment on screen goes to her leg extension in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as she dances in the red dress for Brad Pitt.

    3) Hugh Jackman. The man is versatile, ribbed, and oh yeah, he sings. From playing Wolverine in X-Men to his Tony Award winning stint in Broadway’s The Boy From Oz, Jackman has charisma, charm, and talent. The three-time Tony Awards host and 2009 Oscar host is on my Valentine’s Day shortlist.

    4) Nicole Kidman. You can’t take your eyes off. Kidman will upstage any other actor with her 5’10.5” figure, deep voice, and tantalizing glow. Don’t believe me? Check out Kidman as a singing, dancing courtesan in Moulin Rouge! The movie is filled with colors, costume and choreography and yet Kidman is the only thing I can watch the minute she enters the frame.

    5) Simon Baker. Ok, New York Film Academy actors. Your mission is to steal my heart in the same way Baker did in Devil Wears Prada. I have never wanted the bad guy so much before. The blonde curls, the devilish smile. The Mentalist actor has my heart.

    6) Russell Crowe. His intelligence and depth came through in A Beautiful Mind while his rocking arms were the subject of Gladiator. Next up on his plate is Inspector Javert in the celebrity-infused film of Les Miserables. Curious? I am.

    7) Liam Hemsworth. Not that Miley Cyrus should be an authority on men, but in this case she picked well. Hemsworth made sitting through The Last Song almost bearable. Almost.

    So there is a definite runner up list. Sam Worthington (Avatar), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood) and Eric Bana (The Time Traveler’s Wife) all made the cut.

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    January 27, 2012 • Acting • Views: 1464

  • New York Film Academy Presents Honorary MFA Degree to Golden Globe Winner Tippi Hedren

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    Tippi Hedren NYFANew York Film Academy was thrilled to bestow an Honorary MFA Degree on Golden Globe Winner Tippi Hedren, the only woman to have been directed by both Alfred Hitchcock and Charlie Chaplin. The event took place on Friday, January 20th, following a screening of The Birds and a Q&A with the incredible actress.

    In a packed house at Universal Studios, New York Film Academy students asked Tippi questions about her prolific film career and animal rights work. Check out this excerpt from BroadwayWorld.com on the exciting event!

    Tippen Hedren The Birds

    Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock film The Birds

    One of the few remaining and working “Hitchcock blondes,” Hedren told the story of getting her start in modeling and commercials before being discovered by Alfred Hitchcock. Despite having an often-difficult relationship with him, she spoke highly of the director, saying, “I was so fortunate because I had him, not only as my director, but as my drama coach, which was an absolutely wonderful experience.” She added, “He spoiled me terribly. You almost didn’t know he was directing.”

    The enthusiastic students asked questions about the icons Hedren had worked with over the years, including Sophia LorenJessica Tandy, and Marlon Brando. When asked about her on-set relationship with “Marnie” co-star Sean Connery, Hedren said, “If you have an affair with someone, it shows in your eyes, and I wasn’t about to jeopardize that character for a moment — not even for Sean Connery.” After a brief pause, she joked, “I kind of regret that now.”

    Tippi Hedren Recent

    The actress spoke at length about her extensive animal rights work, a cause that is dear to her heart, saying, “Some people are just born with a great love of animals.” She invited students to visit the Shambala Preserve (Shambala.org), a wild animal preserve Hedren founded in Acton, CA. The preserve is home to over 50 big cats, including lions, tigers, cougars, and leopards.

    As a final question, Hedren was asked about her thoughts on the state of Hollywood today. She simply stated, “I hope that Hollywood gets past all these films that feature special effects as the star, as opposed to true thespians and gets back to some real stories that can affect people and change lives … and don’t even get me started on TV Reality programs,” eliciting a roar of applause from the audience. Ms. Hedren was presented with an Honorary MFA degree in Acting for Film from the New York Film Academy at the end of the Q&A. “Students have already be asking for her return,” says the programs moderator and the Masters Instructor for NYFA, Chris Devane. “We were quite honored she was able to speak with the students and since the event they have not stopped speaking about how honest and forthright she was about the business they are about to get into!”

    “Talking to students of all ages is a welcomed invitation, which I accept most gratefully and with anticipation,” adds Ms. Hedren. “I accepted the date to speak to the students at the New York Film Academy and am thrilled with the knowledge and interest shown by the students. Their devotion to film is exciting and invigorating. Their questions were well thought out and the excitement about their career choice made the hour fly by. Being honored with the Master of Fine Arts Degree from the New York Film Academy is an accolade I shall carry with great pride and appreciation for the remainder of my life. I am eternally grateful to the faculty and the administration of the Academy for this very grand prestigious award of merit.”

     

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    January 26, 2012 • Acting • Views: 3294

  • New York Film Academy Acting Teacher Appears in 2012 Oscar Nominated Film

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    Valorie Hubbard

    New York Film Academy Acting Instructor Valorie Hubbard

    New York Film Academy acting instructor Valorie Hubbard can add another credit to her extensive résumé: actress in an Oscar-nominated film. Valorie played a supporting role in A Better Life, the touching drama whose lead, Demián Bichir, received a Best Actor nod on Tuesday.

    “I’m so excited for him. He’s such a great actor. And I think it’s really important for Latino talent,” said Valorie. On working on the set, Valerie comments, “I was working on 2 movies the same week, both small productions. They had me come for 2 hours in a costume fitting for my 3 lines in the film. What that tells me is that they care about their project.”

    A Better Life Movie

    Valorie said, “When I got to the set, Jami Gertz [who was a producer on the film] welcomed us and thanked us for doing their movie. I was made to feel like it was an ensemble event. I was excited about telling the story, because it’s a story that needs to be told.”

    A Better Life tells the story of an illegal immigrant and his struggles to improve life for his teenage son while working as a gardener in Los Angeles. After the nominations were announced on Tuesday, Bichir sent out a press release, stating, “I dedicate this nomination to those eleven million human beings who make our lives easier and better in the U.S.” He added, “I’m overwhelmed for having my name among those incredible actors. This could have never happened if Chris Weitz had not been the head of this film. He is my brother and I thank him deeply.”

    Director/producer Chris Weitz brought the film for a screening at New York Film Academy in November as part of his Oscar campaign. At the Q&A that followed, Weitz said he was really hoping that Demián Bichir would be nominated for the Academy Award for his stunning performance in the film.

    Billy Bob Thornton

    Valorie on the set of Billy Bob Thornton film Manure

    Valorie, “I’m really happy that I’m a part of it. I’ve dreamed of accepting an Oscar since I was a little girl, and now I feel like I’m closer to my dream.”

    Valorie has been an instructor with New York Film Academy for 12 years, starting at the New York City campus before moving to the campus at Universal Studios. In addition to teaching her NYFA classes in Scene Study, Business of Acting, and Text Analysis, Valorie recently completed the film A White Trash Christmas with Eric Roberts and Beverly D’Angelo, and plays Richard Kind’s wife in Divorce Invitation, alongside Jamie-Lynn Sigler. Both films are currently in post-production. The busy actress is also currently working on a web series, and is doing motion capture for a big-budget video game.

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    January 25, 2012 • Acting • Views: 3712