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  • NYFA Alumna Aubrey Plaza from ‘Parks & Recreation’ Revisits Her Alma Mater

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    aubrey plaza

    Aubrey Plaza

    New York Film Academy students gathered in a theater on the Warner Bros. studios lot in Los Angeles to watch a special screening of the indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, and participate in a Q&A with the film’s star actress, Aubrey Plaza. The discussion was moderated by producer Tova Laiter and NYFA acting instructor Anne Moore.

    Aubrey is most widely known for playing the deadpan employee April Ludgate in the hit TV series Parks and Recreation. She has appeared in Funny People—directed by Judd Apatow—as Seth Rogan’s love interest, as well as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Portlandia, Derrick Comedy’s Mystery Team, a CollegeHumor short alongside Jason Bateman and Will Arnett, the Sundance hit Life After Beth, and the speaking voice of Grumpy Cat in their upcoming original movie Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever. Her first starring role alongside Mark Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed, directed by Colin Trevorrow (Jurrassic World), was critically acclaimed. Aubrey loves performing improv and stand up comedy and has appeared regularly at The Upright Citizens Brigade, Laugh Factory, and The Improv.

    Aubrey, having attended NYFA’s high school summer camp for filmmaking in 2001, was enthusiastic about returning to her alma mater and talking to students who are journeying down the same road she took not to long ago. She had fond memories of her experience at the New York Film Academy and even said that she learned more practical knowledge about filmmaking in those weeks she spent at NYFA than in the first two years of undergraduate film school. She was also very adamant that the short films she made at NYFA were integral in making her college application package successful. Aubrey established a sincere connection with the over 150 high school NYFA students in attendance and they were eager to ask her questions.

    Plaza discussed how she managed to foray into the mainstream. In 2007 she appeared in a web series called The Jeannie Tate Show — a mock talk show about a soccer mom who interviews celebrities in her van while running errands. Aubrey played Jeannie Tate’s delinquent junkie daughter who harasses the show’s guests. This got the attention of an agent who contacted her. Plaza called and emailed the agent regularly checking on whether any roles appropriate for her had come across his desk. Finally, in 2009, the agent recommended Aubrey try out for Seth Rogen’s love interest, Daisy, in Judd Apatow’s Funny People. Since stand up comedy is a focus of the show and the character Daisy is a stand up comic, Aubrey began signing herself up for open mic nights at comedy clubs and bars all across New York City. It was extremely terrifying for her at first but she became more and more confident in doing it. She had her friend film her during the stand up routines and she sent the tapes in to Judd Apatow and his casting director and they loved her. Instead of just auditioning and hoping she got the part, Aubrey took initiative and took her destiny into her own hands.

    Aubrey reminisced about her time on the wildly successful series Parks and Recreation, noting that the relaxed environment of a TV series allowed her and comedian co-stars like Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari to try different things and improv. This contrasts for her with the more stringent environment of a movie set which demands that actors say their exact line, precisely hit marks and find their light just right — however, Aubrey loves both challenges. When talking about what it was like to work with Chris Pratt, Aubrey admitted that she absolutely adores him and says he’s like a smart “giant puppy,” but that she was not as obsessed as her character.

    After Aubrey was asked, “If you could be in any movie franchise, what would it be?” she immediately burst out with, “Catwoman!” Yes that’s right, she would love to reinvent the DC Comics character and add her own Aubrey Plaza brand of charm and wit much like what was done with Guardians of the Galaxy. Everyone in the audience cheered, she sold us on it and now we too want to see Aubrey play Catwoman on the silver screen.

    We sincerely thank Aubrey for returning to the New York Film Academy and we wish her continued success in her exciting career!

    Aubrey also stars in Matt Spicer’s dark comedy “Ingrid Goes West,” releasing August 2017.

     

     

     

     

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    August 10, 2015 • Acting, Filmmaking, Guest Speakers, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 15157

  • Love and Business Blossom at NYFA

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    StratoSpace

    Helena Hilario and Mario Pece

    After working post-production in New York City and Los Angeles for five years on projects like Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New York Film Academy graduates, Helena Hilario (Producing) and Mario Pece (Directing) have decided to explore other opportunities in the Brazilian market by starting their own business. Their company, StratoStorm, will focus on developing visual effect sequences for commercials, films, television, music videos and digital projects for creative advertising agencies, production companies, and talented directors.

    “There is a demand in Brazil for VFX for advertising, television and films,” says Helena Hilario. “We wanted to bring our experience from Hollywood to Brazil.”

    Helena and Mario have invested in a state-of-the-art studio in São Paulo, equipped with workstations and render farms. Their remote-based workflow system allows them to work with clients and artists from around the world while residing in the tropical Brazilian countryside.

    Thus far, StratoStorm has hit the ground running, as they’re currently working on a TV commercial for Combatant Gentlemen, which will air in the United States. They are also creating visual effects for the Brazilian feature film Jonas e a Baleia, directed by Lô Politi, set to premiere in movies theaters in South America in the beginning of next year.

    Helena and Mario met while attending NYFA. From there, they developed a life-long relationship both personally and professionally. Helena had been working as a line producer at Academia de Filmes, one of Brazil’s largest production companies, until she decided to move to New York to learn about the movie business. “It was my dream to attend NYFA, I always heard about the great programs, excellent teachers and impeccable reputation of NYFA. When I found out about the Producing program, I had no doubts that it would be one of the best experiences of my life.”

    Following her studies at NYFA, Helena worked in NYC at Downtown Reel, a production company which specialized in TV commercials for foreign markets. After that, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was hired to work on the production team at KGB, a boutique, independent production company based on the legendary Paramount Studios lot in the heart of Hollywood. In mid 2013, she joined the team at Ingenuity Engine as a VFX Executive Producer and New Business Development. There she worked with various ad agencies and production companies.

    Helena’s partner, Mario Pece left Italy in 2008 to attend the 8-Week Directing Program. While enrolled, he directed several shorts films and decided to continue his education in the One-Year Directing Program. His focus was primarily on creating innovative and unique ways to incorporate VFX into his storytelling. After graduating, Mario became the lead VFX artist at Ingenuity Engine, an award winning VFX studio creating VFX for numerous clients such as Doritos, Reebok, Callaway, Jello, UFC and Virgin Holidays. For television, they produced the visual effects for TV shows Parks & Recreation, Happy Endings and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Winner of Best Comedy at the Golden Globes 2014) and award-winning music videos. One of the music videos, Katie Perry’s Wide Awake, was nominated at the 2012 VMA’s for Best Visual Effects.

    “Our training at NYFA was definitely very important for our careers,” said Helena. “We created hundreds of projects from concept to delivery, including the award-winning trailer for the suspense thriller Out of Home, starring Patrick Boll.”

    Helena and Mario encourage talented visual effects artists and freelancers to send his or her reel to StratoStorm at info@stratostorm.com.

    Mario Pece Reel 2014 from StratoStorm on Vimeo.

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    October 22, 2014 • 3D Animation, Filmmaking, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 8275

  • 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: 5532

  • New York Film Academy Graduate Aubrey Plaza Working with Seth Rogen and Amy Poehler

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    Aubrey Plaza

    Actress Aubrey Plaza has hit it big since taking a New York Film Academy High School Hands-On Summer Workshop. In the past three months, Aubrey has been a featured guest (with hilarious interviews) on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Lopez Tonight with George Lopez. Her list of costars has grown to include Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman. Aubrey is currently filming Safety Not Guaranteed with Kristen Bell and has signed on to film The Hand Job with Christopher Mintz-Plasse (more commonly known as “McLovin” from Superbad) and Andy Samberg (of SNL favorite’s comedy troupe the Lonely Island).

    Aubrey Plaza stars on NBC’s Parks and Recreation with SNL star Amy Poehler 

    So what makes this NYFA graduate a star? Jarrett Wieselman of New York Post comments, “Aubrey isn’t a bubbly, gum-chewing 20-something who tacks a giggle on the end of her sentences and dots her I’s with hearts. She’s smart, dry and totally sarcastic…Aubrey is one of the most disarmingly hilarious people I’ve ever had the chance to interview.”

     

    Aubrey Plaza in Scott Pilgrim vs The World

    Aubrey Plaza stars as Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

    Aubrey stars as April Ludgate on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, recognized as one of the top ten TV shows in TIME, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and People Magazine. Her feature film career includes playing Seth Rogen’s love interest in Funny People and Julie Powers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This May, Aubrey beat actresses Christina Ricci, Ellen Page, Janeane Garofalo, Liz Lee, Zooey Deschanel, and Thora Birch in a MTV poll of who viewers would hope to be cast as Daria in a live action movie. So what comes next for Aubrey Plaza? Follow nyfa on twitter @nyfa for the latest updates.

     

     

     

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    June 3, 2011 • Acting • Views: 6921