The New York Film Academy has played an active role by offering workshops and training through a collaboration with the prestigious youth arts festival of Hakaya Misk, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. NYFA is presenting workshops and trainings on the topics of film production and screenwriting in collaboration with the Pre-Hakaya workshops.
According to Hakaya Misk’s official website, the festival is a cutting-edge Saudi Festival which focuses on incubating creative skills in the next generation through culturally and educationally conscious content creation: “The festival aims to motivate, teach, and inspire youth to express their ideas through writing stories, storytelling, painting, animation, production, and other forms of art.” Through local and international professional partnerships, the festival invites young people to participate in workshops, inspiring platforms, and exhibits, while building skills in storytelling through the visual arts. Events at Hakaya Misk are also offered for adults who are locally active in the creative fields.
NYFA alumni will be holding one-hour workshops daily, while NYFA representatives are present among the local production companies who also partner with Hakaya Misk. The festival has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors through four sessions held in Riyadh, King Abdullah Economic City in Makkah, Dhahran in Eastern Province, and Abha in Aseer Province.
“New York Film Academy is honored to have partnered with Misk in the Pre-Hakaya workshops in Riyadh,” NYFA’s Dean of Enrollment Services Tami Alexander reported from the event. “We had the opportunity to teach over 40 men and women interested in developing their craft in either film production or screenwriting. Our NYFA instructors were thrilled with the students’ confidence, ability and pride in their craft, and the opportunity to experience local Saudi culture.”
Guatemalan photographer Jaime Permuth returned home for an immensely popular photography workshop entitled “Artistic Identity and Transcendence.” It was a homecoming for Permuth who hails from Guatemala City. He has been a member of the faculty at New York Film Academy since 2011, having taught the majority of the courses offered in the Photography program at one point or another.
Over a series of three intensive sessions, participants explored the intersection of who they are as artists and how to find the right context for their practice in the photographic marketplace. For attendees, there were two avenues of exploration. The first looked at personal and artistic identity and featured writing and visual literacy exercises along with group dynamics. The second segment was more practically focused about how to place artwork within the context of the marketplace.
Prior to the workshop, Permuth was invited by La Fototeca – the sole photography school in Central America – to present an Artist Talk. La Fototeca was founded in 2009 and is known, in large part, to their prestigious triennial called GuatePhoto, which draws talented photographers worldwide. Jaime’s event saw over 350 people reserve seats in advance. Due to the overwhelming interest, organizers had to switch venues and hold it in the building’s parking garage instead. Clearly in popular worldwide demand, in December, the New York via Guatemala photographer will lead a workshop in Cuba for Camera Voyages. His work can currently be seen at Harlem’s El Museo del Barrio in the exhibition “nasty women / bad hombres.”
“New York City taught me to work professionally at the highest level. But Guatemala is where I learned to see and feel the world and the life around me. My native country is never far from my mind,” Permuth says proudly. “As a Guatemalan who has lived abroad more than half of his life – I worry that people back home have ceased to think about me. Or worse even, that I have ceased to be relevant to the cultural life of the country. And yet, coming back to a standing-room only-crowd at my talk and a sold-out workshop reassures me that perhaps this is not the case.”
We can confidently say it most certainly is not the case.
Over the course of his career, Permuth’s work has also been featured on NPR, TimeOut, ArtNet, FeatureShoot, and many other publications. His photography has been displayed all across New York City in the Museum of Modern Art, Queens Museum, The Brooklyn Museum, The Bronx Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, and many other museums. Along with being NYFA faculty, he teaches at the School of Visual Arts in their Digital Photography program. To learn more about Jaime and his work, check out hiswebsite.
NYFA Games promises students hands-on learning from industry masters. To that end, NYFA Instructor and Niantic Labs creative director, John Zuur-Platten, brought his students to get hands on with the innerworking of a AAA studio and provide design feedback on a new module of their alternate reality game Ingress.
If you’re not familiar, Ingress is the pioneering augmented reality game in which you move through the real world with your mobile phone battling and claiming territory for your faction within the game.
The game uses the Google Maps API and challenges factions to capture real world “portals” that are typically places of cultural significance such as public art, landmarks, and monuments. An ongoing mystery story plays out via videos and blog posts posted by Niantic.
Ideas that work in Ingress can sometimes see their way into Niantic Labs more mainstream AR game, Pokemon Go. We caught up with NYFA Games’ MFA student, Fabio Ribak, to get his take on the experience:
“Ingress engages players from around the world in a rich interactive story. Game events attract thousands of players to meet up and collaborate in the real world. There is really nothing else like it. It was amazing to see the process of how the conceive new kinds of game play on the cutting edge of storytelling.”
When asked what he learned that could be applied to his projects:
“I have never done a playtest that long (2 hours) before, and I enjoyed how much detail there was on every quest. I will try to achieve a balance on these aspects that capture the attention of the players throughout the entire playtest.”
NYFA’s Ragga Thordarson continues to garner international recognition, this time in her native country of Iceland. Interviewed by Morgunblaðið, one Iceland’s leading papers, Ragga spoke of her success in the film and television industry as a producer, director, and consultant.
The article went on to discuss her role within the New York Film Academy and the importance of the inclusive, diverse environment NYFA fosters.
You can find the original article here. An English version can be found below.
“The World of Film is International”
Ragnhildur Magnúsdóttir Thordarson, or Ragga, as she is called, lives in Los Angeles where she works at the prestigious New York Film Academy. Ragga has produced and participated in a number of creative and film projects both overseas and here at home in Iceland and was among other things, a consultant to the team behind “The Simpsons” on the Simpsons’ Iceland episode.
“This started when I graduated with a Master’s degree in Producing For Film and Television from New York Film Academy in March 2012. I left Iceland in 2010 and graduated two years later,” says Ragga, who has done well in recent years in Los Angeles, California, USA, as a Producer. The projects include short films that have been featured at various film festivals.
In 2012, Filmbreak named Ragga Best Producer for one such project. Her short sketch video was named Carlos & Brandi 2 and was a follow-up to the first Carlos and Brandi, based on short episodes of the Icelandic-American couple created by Ragga. She also wrote and directed the documentary From Oakland to Iceland. Ragnhildur now works as Director of Admissions at New York Film Academy, Los Angeles, which oversees students’ applications worldwide.
Consultant for Icelandic Simpsons
“Before I graduated, I worked as a radio and television host (in Iceland) and as a filmmaker. So I have been producing across platforms for a considerable amount of time,” says Ragga
“After graduating, I started working as a Producer in LA in various projects. Among other things, I worked for Reebok and was a consultant on “The Simpsons” Iceland episode. I produced and wrote content that was featured on “Funny or Die.” In fact, I was working on various types of projects. Then I started working in events for New York Film Academy. “
Industry professionals with impressive resumes
Ragga then began managing Q and A´s and various events at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. “We had guests coming to Warner Brothers for screenings and Q and A’s. There were people from all different jobs in entertainment and film; screenwriters and actors, for example, such as Linda Woolverton, Josh Brolin and Jonah Hill. Then there were filmmakers, even animation experts and others, some household names and others less known to the public, but industry professionals who have great bodies of work and extensive credits, sometimes behind the scenes. These people come to share their creative and industry experiences with students. This was a great job.” Ragga is raised in the United States, but is Icelandic and has spent considerable time living in Iceland as well. She and her husband have lived in Los Angeles in recent years.
The environment is international
Ragga managed events at NYFA until she was eight months pregnant with her first child. “I had my daughter Stella three years ago, and was what in Iceland would be considered a ‘last minute mom’” says Ragga, and laughs.
“After becoming a mom, I went to work on new projects for New York Film Academy and because I knew the school so well, I ended up working in Admissions. My job then evolved into the position I am in now. I love this school, the departments within it work well together, and more than half of the students are international. This is a very global environment, and it’s great to be surrounded by people who are storytellers from all over the world. You hear Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and many more languages daily here. It reflects in my opinion the cinema world which is far more international than I think people generally realize. “Hollywood is such a multinational place and New York Film Academy’s student body reflects that. Then filmmakers (including NYFA’s) meet at various film festivals across the world, with their common love of and passion for film. “
Outside of the New York Film Academy, Acting Instructor, Chris Devane is a giant in the casting industry. Devane detailed his experience with large casting calls, which can include seeing over 400 people in a single day, to an hour-long casting rehearsal with a single actress. With clients like Wal-Mart and major production studios, Devane knows everything there is to know about the casting process. Most importantly, he has been able to pass that information on to acting students. Here are the top 5 lessons we took from Devane’s Casting Class.
There Are a Lot of Actors Actively Seeking Work
Devane began the class with a simple question, “How many union actors are working in the United States of America?” After letting students take a guess, Devane revealed the staggering number.
There are 160,000 actors in the union and untold scores of hopeful eyed youngsters trying to enter the industry every day. Perhaps more troubling is the fact that the average income for those 160,000 union actors is $7,000. This includes big stars like Chris Pine and Zoe Saldana who make millions of dollars per movie.
Devane brought up these numbers to make a point. Those that want to act had better be prepared to work for free or very little. They will need to love their craft beacuse acting is not always kind to actors.
“The only person who can help your career is you,” Devane told his students. “Getting success is easy. Keeping it is a challenge.” Many actors come to LA from smaller cities where they have had some success. It means nothing when they get to Hollywood. “There are no failed actors. Just people who quit.”
You Have to Really, Really Love Acting
“There’s more competition in acting than any other field in the world,” Devane said. While working for free or very little upfront may be necessary, eventually, payment will be required. “Who’s paying your rent or putting gas in your car if you work for free? This is show business,” Devane warned. Deciding how much one’s work is worth can be challenging.
This is all part of the gig. Actors typically work twelve to eighteen hour days, six days a week. This is an exhausting and demanding schedule. All the while, actors are being judged. They’re judged for their looks, they are judged for their talent, and they are even judged for their behavior. This scrutiny tends to get the better of most people.
Self-promotion is of the utmost importance. There are more opportunities to be seen with YouTube and other social media platforms but there’s also a bigger opportunity to fail. A good casting director will not place an actor in a role for which they are not prepared. But the advent of casting based on followers has a lot of young talent scrambling to put out any work they have in hopes of gaining a following.
Devane suggests putting only polished work out for consumption. Start developing a style and a voice now. Don’t rely on followers. They do not denote talent. Do solid work, help others in developing their work, and promote the finished projects.
Casting Has Nothing to Do with Talent
When Devane revealed this information there was tangible hitch within the audience. Talent, fairy tales would have you believe, is the most important aspect in getting started in the entertainment industry. How else can someone with little experience get his or her start?
Devane says the most important thing an actor should be able to do is be themselves on camera. It is the job of a casting agent to find the best person for the role and not the best actor in the world. So, if an actor is relaxed and natural on camera than they can be cast in something.
Most people who have difficulty getting cast believe it’s something they have done wrong. According to Devane most of these people are missing a personality. Many balked at this statement because it can be rather difficult information to process. Some take it as an insult. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The first step to fixing a problem is admitting there is a problem. Devane suggests actively listening to get more parts. Listen to the partner in the scene. Don’t just wait for the next line. Also, listen to the casting director. If one is asked to try the line a different way, you should really think about how that note changes the reading. Being able to take direction makes any actor more desirable.
Reputation Travels Faster than any Human
Reputations cannot be bought or erased. They are earned through the most precious non-renewable source, time. With this in mind, Devane advised students to guard and protect their reputations with everything they have.
“The person who gets cast is the one who can work with the director.” Being a diva on set or overstepping boundaries will have an actor on the outs faster than they can sign a contract. Once a job is booked, it’s important to know on-set rules so as not to become a liability. “If you hear ‘points’ on set you need to know what that means and act accordingly,” Devane told students.
Don’t turn down work. “Look, sometimes being picky can be beneficial, but when someone brings you a job turning it down can look ungrateful at best and disrespectful at worst.” When auditioning for a role make sure the shoot days do not conflict with any other projects or personal appointments. If there’s a potential for conflict mention it at the start of the audition.
Be on time. Every minute of production can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Crew call is often much earlier and much later than an actor’s call time. There is zero excuse for holding up a production and everyone will remember who caused that hold up.
There is No Way to Tell Why You Did Not Get Cast
Devane let students in on a secret that most professional working actors do not know. He told them that not only does talent not matter but there are a million little reasons behind why an individual does get cast. “Get rid of the feeling of I could have done better.”
Sometimes one individual will pair better with an actor that has already been cast. Other times a director might have a working relationship with an actor. Sometimes a client will change their mind and want a different look than they originally set out to cast. It could be that there was just a better actor in the room that day.
It is important to remember that, “You’re going to be frustrated throughout your entire career. Be positive and confident in your ability, skills, and knowledge. It’s the only thing to separate you from the 180 other people auditioning for the role.”
It’s heartbreaking to get rejection after rejection but again, acting is not for the faint of heart. It requires great passion and equally as much patience and keep in mind that somewhere out there is the perfect role.
Devane left students with this thought, “The harder you work, the more fortune you’ll have.” Do not wait to be chosen. Be your own biggest advocate.
“Where Cultures Collide,” a web series produced and directed by NYFA’s MFA Documentary students in Los Angeles, is set to be published by PBS affiliate KCETLink starting August 1, 2017. The five-part series of 5-7 minute segments explores aspects of different cultures that have merged into the mainstream in Southern California and been transformed to a degree. The series spotlights cultural contributions from Latin America, Thailand, Polynesia, Armenia, and Saudi Arabia.
As part of their Community Film Project class, our MFA Documentary students had a unique opportunity to work with KCETLink in a professional producing relationship. The class, led by instructor Denise Hamilton, met with their “client” KCETLink to determine their interests. After the initial contact, they developed and presented concepts for them in a pitch meeting and were Greenlit to produce stories about unique “cultural clashes”. It was a professional pitch session that they passed with flying colors!
Students Ashley Harris, GuangLi Zhu, Yuan Li, Zhengyi Zhong, Sultan Aljurays, Camilla Borel-Rinkes, Mira Hamour, Carolina Sosa Andres and Kristen Lydsdottir served as directors, producers and crew members, responsible for the entire process from pre-production to post.
“It was a very difficult assignment” Denise acknowledges, “because they had to conduct extensive research and produce while simultaneously planning and prepping their thesis films.”
And, like any Client / Producer relationship, the group received notes for adaptations and changes throughout the process. Ultimately, the students obtained an invaluable lesson about creating work for someone else, and got a kick-start into the professional world of producing for a high-level client. KUDOS!
It is the goal of Community Outreach to not just educate, but to encourage students to tell their story from their perspective. This goal is achieved in a variety of ways. Here’s what’s been happening lately in NYFA’s Community Outreach Program:
With the AmeriCorps, Program Head of Outreach Mason Richards took NYFA Instructor Bart Mastrodoni and three cameras to a local high school. The challenge presented to the student was to write, direct, and edit a short film in a single day.
Bill Duke Media Foundation
Most teens have asked the question, “Who am I?” With the Bill Duke Media Foundation partnership and NYFA, students were asked this very question and challenged to create an answer on film. The goal was to help them get comfortable with telling their own stories. They made a short film exploring that query on the Universal Backlot that screened for their families at their graduation.
Students involved in the Young Storytellers Program were given the opportunity to film on the Universal Backlot. Learning from instructors and teacher’s assistants, the kids formed teams and filmed several projects on the Western lot.
HandsForHopeLA is an after-school program for children living in a single parent home. They teamed with NYFA to create a PSA on texting and driving. Students involved with this program created an anti texting and driving PSA. Families of the students were able to see the final product.
Through NYFA’s Community Outreach Program and partnerships, some students discover a future hobby and some discover a potential career. It is these career-minded students, the ones who arrive early and stay late, the ones excited to work on other peoples projects, the students eager to come back to NYFA for whom The NEXT Young Filmmaker Program was created.
NYFA’s NEXT Young Filmmaker Program
The NEXT Young Filmmaker Program is the “advanced outreach” program offering hosted by the NYFA Office of Community Outreach. Select students who have already participated in one of our Community Outreach Partner programs have an opportunity to go a step further in learning the filmmaking process with the NEXT Young Filmmakers Outreach Program, and learn supporting roles and crew positions in the film industry beyond directing and acting.
Head of Community Outreach Mason Richards said of the program, “We’ve found that most young filmmakers are only taught key positions in film production such as ‘director’ or ‘actor.’ We strive to show them what else is out there as far as careers in filmmaking.”
He continued, “We at NYFA feel that there are multiple ways to prepare young people for a career in cinema, and being a part of a team, working on skills of collaboration, team-building and communication are integral to the craft of filmmaking.”
The hope of the NEXT Young Filmmakers Outreach Program is to offer an opportunity for select LA high school students to receive a scholarship to participate in our advanced filmmaking program. Those selected will participate in a one-week workshop at the end of the summer when there are fewer opportunities for students from underserved communities until school is back in session.
In our week-long filmmaking program, we teach these talented young filmmakers advanced classes in lighting, production design, production sound, and assistant directing training. The aim is to keep the students who are engaged and serious about a career in filmmaking on a track to prepare them for college.
This is also a way for them to develop their personal voices as storytellers and filmmakers. In the NEXT Young Filmmakers program, 12 outstanding students will have the opportunity to work with NYFA faculty to further explore their paths in filmmaking.
The first NEXT Young Filmmaker’s Program will begin in August. The New York Film Academy would like to wish the students a successful semester.
On Saturday, July 1, teens and tweens participating in the New York Film Academy Summer Camp in Los Angeles took a break from the hard work of filmmaking to see a summer blockbuster classic. “Top Gun” was screening in the field at the Autry Museum.
Usually, the students are hard at work developing their film projects. Most days, they are learning the difference between camera lens sizes, rehearsing a new acting technique, experimenting with the latest 3D technology, revising a script or shooting on a professional backlot. On this night, however, their hard work was rewarded with a special screening.
This screening was unique because it was surrounded by some of the top food trucks in Los Angeles. For many of the students, this was the first time they had seen a movie under the stars. The combination of live music and multicultural food trucks made the night an event.
The head of Summer Camps, Ale Salinas said, “This is a unique and fun experience.
We’re doing this for the students to bond and watch fun movies in a Hollywood way.”
The New York Film Academy is proud of the great strides out Summer Camp students are making and hope their night off was a fun one.
Miami, Florida is a paradise that is not only brimming with creativity, but is also a thriving center for business-savvy professionals. As a part of this diverse and bustling community, the New York Film Academy’s South Beach campus is honored to have had the opportunity to co-sponsor June’s The Best of Miami event.
The party had a line that wrapped around the Museum entrance. Everyone from the “who’s who” of Miami was anticipating the event, which included vendors from all over Miami. Each of the six floors of the Frost Museum had something exciting going on, and the New York Film Academy South Beach was happy to join in on the festivities as a co-sponsor. NYFA’s booth was situated inside the planetarium where the attendees were able to mingle amongst the stars.
On the same floor just across the way located inside what is known as their Deep Aquarium a DJ was spinning tracks while attendees from the diverse crowd broke it down on the dance floor. Above the dance floor was the deepest part of the aquarium that hung low nearly able to touch by an outstretched hand. A few doors down was a minimally lit room with columns of jellyfish swimming around lighting up the room in a natural artistic manner.
NYFA’s guests of honor included Acting for Film Chair Mark Mochabee, Filmmaking Chair Maylen Dominguez, and Program Coordinator Laura Gasperini. Although the event was filled with tons to do, the New York Film Academy carved out its own niche in the planetarium. The top floor of the aquarium was open for the attendees to pet a live stingray while they swiftly swam by.
One of the most memorable aspects of this event was the skyline, a filmmakers dream; surrounded by water with a backdrop of Brickell on one side and downtown Miami on the other.
Miami New Times made a wave with this event, finding the perfect and newest venue in Miami to throw a spectacular party. The New York Film Academy was able to make its presence in South Beach known while enjoying the fun of the event, which reminded every attendee of Miami’s motto: “We live where you vacation.”
Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members.
Hire Heroes USA is a nonprofit that provides free, expert career coaching and job sourcing to hundreds of transitioning U.S. military members, assisting veterans and spouses with finding employment.
The first half of the eight-hour workshop was a practicum related to resume theory, networking techniques, and how to affectively prepare for an interview. Representatives from Hire Heroes USA, Jamie Rimphanli and Walter Serrano, coached veteran students on how to properly format their resumes and discussed, in-depth, the importance of networking and how to prepare for a job interview.
Highlights from the day included an exercise that had all of the participants do a speed networking session. Also, HHUSA brought a photographer who took professional head shots for the veteran students’ LinkedIn pages.
“We felt that this training and these types of vet student-centric activities are increasingly important because they help prepare our students to meet with HR/Talent Acquisition teams from the major studios,” explained NYFA Director of Veterans Services Department John Powers.
Retired Army veteran and MFA cinematography student Bryan Hudson stated, “The Hire Heroes USA workshop was a fantastic forum to introduce veterans with industry insiders and provide the opportunity to learn from them. The event was beneficial to everyone involved about learning the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the interview process and how to break into the entertainment industry. One thing that I learned from the workshop is to establish relationships that will be beneficial to both parties. Thank you to the NYFA Veterans Department for putting on this marvelous event, and I hope that this will be the first of many events with Hire Heroes USA.”
The NYFA Veteran Services Department is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for partnering with us to bring this wonderful opportunity to NYFA veteran students.