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  • NYFA Grad’s Award-Winning Thesis to Screen at SAG Short Film Showcase

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    kellen crewThe Moment I Was Alone, directed by New York Film Academy graduate Kellen Gibbs, has been nominated for 20 awards at seven different festivals, winning Best Screenplay at Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, Judges Choice at Monarch International Film Festival, Best Independent Film Score at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards, Award of Merit at the United International Film Festival, and Best College Student Film at Sanford International Film Festival. It premiered at the Carmel International Film Festival, also screened at Take Two Film Festival and will now be screening at the SAG Short Film Showcase on August 30th.

    The film’s soundtrack was composed by Canadian-born and Toronto-based film composer Isaias Garcia, who is 3-time SOCAN & 2-time Hollywood Music in Media Awards winner. He and his team at MASTR Studios (Media Arts Symphony of Toronto) produced and mixed the original score at their Toronto studio in collaboration with the Ostrich Studio Orchestra in Argentina who recorded the soundtrack with a live orchestra.

    With all of the awards racking up for Gibbs, we thought we’d find out more about his film and his young career as an award-winning filmmaker.

    Can you tell us a little bit about THE MOMENT I WAS ALONE? 

    “The Moment I Was Alone” is a short I did as my thesis film at NYFA. It follows Quinn, an adolescent child who, while searching for her mother in an over populated street, witnesses time completely stop around her. To me it’s a coming of age story; watching this young girl grow and experience life from an almost third person perspective of it while dealing with the issues that she herself faces. What am I? Who am I? Can I love? Why do we love? Why did this happen? In some way or another these are questions that everyone asks themselves. I guess you can say that was the big idea for the film; make people think. Create something that’s thought provoking and can drop you into a new world and take you on an emotional journey.

    kelln gibbs

    How did this film come about? 

    The idea has been sitting with me for a long time. It came first as an idea just revolving around a story where time stopped. I’ve seen the idea a lot in superhero movies, cartoons, TV shows; I wanted to take it on a different route then I’ve seen it taken before. I loved the idea that a person can be completely surrounded by people but be so isolated and lonely at the same time. Over time and while at NYFA, the story turned into what it is now and needless to say I am very proud of what it became.

    How would you describe your experience at NYFA?

    I loved my time at the New York Film Academy. I have had some very influential teachers who have really helped and guided me throughout. Not only that but I think one of the factors about NYFA that really helped me was how hands-on and accessible everything was. It requires hard work because it’s not just theory we’re being taught; at NYFA you go out and make movies. And the outcome can be so gratifying. You don’t just look at movies and say, “I wish I could make that.” You get to say “I MADE that.”

    Would you say NYFA’s training was useful in terms of being prepared to write/direct this film?

    Absolutely. I never could have made this movie two years ago. NYFA has made me look at movies differently — deeper. And in extension, I now look at my movies the same way. This is all thanks to my teachers at NYFA.

    What do you hope will come about from the SAG Showcase?

    The film has already done so many things that I wasn’t expecting. It’s brought together different countries by its musical score, showcased the ability of many NYFA students along with rising newcomers in the industry. And after winning all the awards that we have, traveling around to different film festivals and being nominated for many more, I am just beyond honored to have been chosen to screen at the SAG Showcase. Of course I hope that the screening can help as I continue propelling my career forward but I am just incredibly excited to have had the opportunity to screen and show my film at so many places. That’s by far one of the best experiences; I’ve seen my movie so many times now but when you get in front of a new crowd and you get to hear the reactions of people viewing it for the first time, it rejuvenates you and makes it as if I am watching it for the first time again. You never really know what can come from these experiences but it’s always a blast and this one is just such an honor.

    Are you currently working on any other projects?

    Yes, sir! After graduating NYFA I was approached by an author by the name of George Lippert. He has asked me to adapt his novel “The Freezing Season” into a feature film and we are heavily into the process now with the goal of filming in February of next year. Many of the same people who worked on “The Moment I Was Alone” will be returning to work on this with us. These connections last. Things are definitely in the works and that will absolutely be an experience I can’t wait for.

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    August 15, 2016 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5485

  • New York Film Academy Highlights Acting Chair Lynda Goodfriend

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    One of the many enticing aspects of attending one of the New York Film Academy’s programs is the ability to learn hands-on from professionals who have and continue to have such a strong grasp of the professional entertainment business. The best teacher is someone with real life experience in his or her field. Our Los Angeles Acting for Film Chair, Lynda Goodfriend, oversees the acting for film school with a tremendously versatile and impressive background, having performed and acted in both New York City and Los Angeles.

    goodfriend happy days

    After college, Goodfriend started her career as a professional dancer and singer on Broadway, Off Broadway and, as she puts it, “Way-off Broadway.”

    “It was everything I’d dreamt of! One of the highlights was to work with a young performer just starting his career as well, John Travolta” recalls Goodfriend. “When I started to take my acting more seriously, I began studying with the master teachers Lee Strasberg and Sandy Meisner, which made me believe that my ultimate goal as a performer was to be a ‘dramatic actress.'”

    After being in a couple of very small roles in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver with Robert De Niro and The Front with Woody Allen, Lynda drove to Los Angeles with ambition and her SAG card. To her surprise, Goodfriend booked a variety of sitcom roles, rather than the dramas she was accustomed to.

    “I started classes at Harvey Lembeck’s comedy workshop and would come home crying after every class—it was so hard! But now I love comedy and appreciate the actors who do it well. Among my classmates was a young comedian who could not get work as an actor because he could not stick to the script, but he was brilliant at improv. A role came up on the series I was doing (Happy Days) and they could not cast the character, so I mentioned this guy from my class. He came in to audition, got the role, and the producers liked him so much they created a series of his own—it was called Mork and Mindy, and the actor, Robin Williams, became a huge star.”

    lynda goodfriend

    Lynda Goodfriend as Lori Beth Cunningham with Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham on ‘Happy Days’

    Lynda is most well known for her role as Lori Beth Cunningham in the hit TV series Happy Days. Along the way she did two other sitcom series, many guest star roles, and several roles in feature films working with such actors as Tom Hanks, Bette Midler, and Julia Roberts. One of her fondest moments, as she recalls, was working with Ray Bolger, the ‘Scarecrow’ from the Wizard of Oz, on an episode of Fantasy Island.

    Taking a break from television, Goodfriend started her own acting school, The Actors Workout in NoHo (North Hollywood, the Theatre District), and developed two schools and a Theatre. She was also the head of a management company, Young Artists Management for many years, working with clients from top talent agencies such as CAA, ICM and William Morris.

    She came back to teaching in 2006 at New York Film Academy, teaching Acting for Film and Scripted TV classes. In 2011, Lynda became—and still serves as—Chair of the Acting Department. “I feel like working in this position pulls together all that I’ve learned from my acting career, teaching and managing careers. And fortunately, since my daughter is a talent agent at one of the top agencies in LA, it’s easy to still keep up with the current trends in the industry, so I can help guide our students.”

    “My goal for the Acting Department at NYFA is to continue to find more techniques and approaches to help actors learn their craft, as well as to expand our students’ opportunities to be involved in the industry after graduation. I love our program and have the honor to work with so many gifted instructors. Since becoming Chair, I have had the opportunity to add the Student Directed Plays, the Studio Classes (advanced “extra” courses in Meisner, Method and Chekov), Alumni Scene Study classes, as well as our extensive list of Drop In Classes—Auditioning, Stage Combat, Improv, Yoga, Meditation, Dance, Accent Reduction, Singing and Ballroom Dance—to support their training.”


    “This program is an amazing gift for students who want to learn everything as an actor. When you graduate from this program you can hit the ground running! I believe that everything you do in life teaches you something about acting, so in my personal life I’ve always tried to do things that challenged me—I’ve raced airplanes, climbed mountains in the Himalayas, and am a competition rider along with my Swedish Warmblood horse, named ‘Othello.’ No matter what you do or pursue it’s all about the same thing—focus, hard work and commitment.”

    The most important words of advice Goodfriend can give any actor that is pursuing a career are:

    1. Work harder than everybody else
    2. Don’t burn bridges
    3. Do something every day to become a better actor: read scripts, plays or anything you can get your hands on, go to the theatre, watch great films, go to class
    4. Never, ever quit
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    April 28, 2015 • Acting, Faculty Highlights • Views: 8455

  • NYFA Alum Raises 70k For First Feature

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    Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 12.28.06 PM

    Abigail Schwarz and Nicola Scandiffo

    New York Film Academy alumni, Abigail Schwarz, will be shooting her first feature film, Those Who Wander. The independent comedy, written and directed by Schwarz, is about growing up, growing apart and getting lost along the way. The project recently raised $70,000 through Kickstater and is gearing up for production. Signed on to the project thus far are producer Nicola Scandiffio, executive producer James Frey (Bestselling Author, A Million Little Pieces), cinematographer Elisha Christian (Save the Date), casting director Adrienne Stern (ASC Casting), Emmy Award Winning actress Anna Holbrook, and countless others.

    Abigail is currently still casting and looking for crew in NYC and LA, and the project is part of the SAG Ultra Low Budget Indie Agreement for low budget feature films.

    If you would like to be involved in the film in any context, please contact wanderproduction@gmail.com.

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    July 22, 2013 • #WomenOfNYFA, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4567

  • New York Film Academy’s Alumni Spotlight: Jason Liles

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    “Before I moved to NYC I was told by many that I was too tall to be an actor,” says New York Film Academy Acting for Film graduate Jason Liles. “However, it seems my height was been the very thing that’s been getting me in the door to this point.”

    The 6’10” actor has booked a number of high-profile jobs since his graduation in May 2010. Jason explains, “The very week after graduating… [I did an] episode of stand-in work for [pro wrestler] The Big Show as he guest starred on an episode of USA’s Royal Pains. That was my first experience on a big film or TV set ever.”

    “About a month later, [I was called] in to audition for a principal role as a tall alien in Men In Black III 3D!” says Jason. “I ended up working as three aliens over several weeks with [7-time Academy Award-winning] special makeup effects artist Rick Baker and his crew. I worked on the film… with nearly the entire main cast. I got all my SAG waivers and made some great connections. It was an incredible experience. I’m very much looking forward to it’s release on May 25.”

    Jason got another lucky break when he got a second callback for a role on a commercial. He recounts, “I was ecstatic… when I found out searching on the internet that it was a PRINCIPAL role in a NATIONAL Allstate commercial… This was my first time ever auditioning in front of the director, and all for a big project like this. MIB’s audition was for a camera. It was so cool to be getting direction from the director himself at the audition and I gave it my all in that room.”

    Jason waited anxiously until he got the news that he booked the role. He explains, “Because of the waivers I got doing Men In Black III, I had to join SAG to do it so I also got my SAG card!!! Meetings with agents were being set up!!! I couldn’t believe it. I was in denial even. I started to think, ‘Okay, it’s a commercial, but it won’t be that big. It can’t be.’ It just seemed too easy and too good to be true.”

    “The shoot went amazing,” he says. “Around 300 extras were cast for the crowd, and about 15 principals including us basketball players. I got to work directly with Dean ‘Mayhem’ Winters and his 11-year stunt double, David Shumbris, all day. It was such a pleasure to work with both of them and I can’t say enough nice things about them. Also getting to work directly with acclaimed commercial director David Gray was really exciting for me. He was nominated for the prestigious DGA Commercial Director of the Year award in 2004 and I believe this was his first Allstate Mayhem commercial.”

    “I had never experienced anything like a 2,000 frames-per-second high-speed camera getting my close-up for a national commercial before,” says Jason. “When we were setting up that shot, I can’t explain the anticipation and excitement for what was about to happen. I was so amped and felt so grateful to be standing on that court surrounded by such talent. After we got my close-up I went over to the monitor and watched it with David. It looked incredible! So epic! I remember standing behind David as he’s pointing at my face on the monitor saying to the assistant director, Peter Jackson, ‘That’s great! That’s perfect right there. Great, let’s move on.’ It was such a compliment for me to come from such a great director like him.“

    The commercial is currently airing on CBS, TBS, TNT, TruTV, Comedy Central, History, Fox, ESPN, and AMC. Jason says, “Another graduate of NYFA, Nick Purdy, said my ‘shocked face is plastered all over Canadian television.’ So evidently it’s showing internationally as well.”

    “I love this business,” Jason says. “Less than a week before shooting the commercial, I knew nothing about it. Persistence is key in anything, and… especially in this industry. I feel so very blessed and so lucky to get this opportunity only a couple years into my career. I can’t thank God enough for the opportunities that have been given to me and can’t wait to see what’s next…. There’s one thing that I’ve come to learn in this business: you never know what’s right around the corner.”

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    April 18, 2012 • Acting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4981

  • 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: 3978