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  • New York Film Academy (NYFA) Collaborates with Hire Heroes USA

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    The New York Film Academy (NYFA) Department of Veteran Services (DVS) had the pleasure of once again partnering with Hire Heroes USA (HHUSA) to host a daylong exclusive employment workshop for NYFA’s veteran students. NYFA veteran-students and veteran-alums participated in the event as well as a select group of members from Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME).

    Hire Heroes USA is a registered nonprofit that provides free career coaching and job sourcing to those transitioning out of the US military; the organization assists veterans and spouses with finding employment as well as providing career counseling and job sourcing. 

    The critical elements of the workshop focused on a practicum in resume formatting, networking tactics, and how to fully prepare for an interview. Jamie Rimphanli and Amy Dodson, representatives from Hire Heroes USA, led the workshop and shared valuable insight on navigating the job search process.

    Hire Heroes USA

    Jamie Rimphanli (second from left) and Amy Dodson (far right) meet with veterans from the employment workshop.

    Additionally, industry professionals joined the event during the day for a moderated Q&A session. Panelists represented Mattel Industries, Warner Brothers, Paramount Studios, Legendary Entertainment, and other top entertainment companies. These experts discussed how they got their start in the industry and provided advice to the attendees on kickstarting their careers.

    Following the panel, the veterans had the opportunity to network with the industry professionals and the informative day concluded at a local restaurant for a mixer that provided a more intimate setting in which to build contacts.

    Of the event, US Navy Veteran and NYFA BFA Producing student Jonathan Garza remarked, “The Hire Heroes Workshop gave me a lot of valuable information that I will take into the job search once I finish my degree. This is a wonderful organization that all veterans looking to get into the workforce should utilize.

    New York Film Academy has been privileged to enroll more than 1500 veteran students and military dependents at our campuses since 2009. In addition to educating veterans with hands-on, intensive programs using state-of-the-art equipment, NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services (DVS), led by NYFA Chair of Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs, has been able to bring unique opportunities to its veterans students while supporting the veteran community.

    The NYFA Department of Veteran Services is extremely grateful to Hire Heroes USA for providing this wonderful opportunity provided to NYFA veteran-students and looks forward to future collaborations! 

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    September 7, 2018 • Community Highlights, Veterans • Views: 848

  • “Unbroken” Sequel Screened For New York Film Academy (NYFA) Veterans

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    On August 13, 2018, the New York Film Academy’s Department of Veteran Services, was honored to host an advanced screening of the next chapter in the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken: Path to Redemption. The film is the sequel to the 2014 film, Unbroken, directed by Academy Award Winner®, Angelina Jolie, and hits theaters later this year. Following the screening, producers Matthew Baer and Luke Zamperini, son of Louis Zamperini, treated the audience to a Q&A moderated by Navy veteran and New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Acting Alumnus, Ron Ringo.

    The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran-students and the wider veteran communities in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami (South Beach).

    Unbroken Q&A

    Photo Caption: (left to right) Ron Ringo, Matthew Baer, and Luke Zamperini discuss their experience in creating Unbroken: Path to Redemption.

    Baer and Zamperini shared their experiences creating the film, as well as stories about Louis Zamperini himself. With having only 20 days to shoot the entire film, Baer addressed the challenges that he faced along with sharing a lot of valuable information for aspiring filmmakers. Zamperini shared stories of his father and explained how powerful it is seeing his father’s inspirational story depicted on the big screen for everyone to experience. Being on set and seeing his family members being portrayed by actors was incredibly surreal to him. 

    BFA Producing student and US Navy veteran Jonathan Garza commented, “Louis Zamperini’s inspirational and powerful story should be seen by everyone. He is a true American Hero.” He added, “I also enjoyed hearing from Matthew and his insight from years of producing. He mentioned that he still runs into the same problems producing studio films that he did when he was in film school, but on a larger scale.”

    Luke Zamperini is the President and CEO of the Louis Zamperini Youth Ministries Foundation.  Matthew Baer’s other producing credits include The Hurricane starring Denzel Washington, City by the Sea with Robert De Niro and James Franco, and the first chapter in the Louis Zamperini story, Unbroken — among many other successful films. 

    The New York Film Academy thanks Matthew Baer and Luke Zamperini for their generosity and willingness to share their stories and to help students pursuing careers in the film industry.

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    August 21, 2018 • Guest Speakers, Producing • Views: 1123

  • Producing Student Accepted into Producers Guild Student Program

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    With graduation coming up on May 27th, 2016 for New York Film Academy One Year Producing Conservatory student John ‘Six’ Reilly, the timing of his recent acceptance into the Producers Guild of America Student Membership Program couldn’t have been any better. The two-year program gives highly-motivated students currently enrolled in a producing-focused degree or certificate program the unique opportunity to become part of their own PGA community by attending regular meetings, creating and supporting events, networking with peers, receiving invitations to PGA events and screenings, and sharing and advancing their knowledge of film, television, and new media.

    Reilly is currently producing programs for Brooklyn public access television and developing a spin-off of Black Ink Crew, as well as other projects in film and television. He is also a member of Veterans in Film and Television, The Independent Filmmakers Project and The National Academy for Television Arts and Sciences.

    john reilly nyfa

    Reilly began working in the entertainment business in music production and promotion with the VH1 hit reality series Black Ink Crew. His work creating story arcs with the show runners prompted him to attend New York Film Academy to further his career in television and film.

    With the exciting news of his acceptance into the PGA, we thought we’d catch up to learn more about John Reilly and what’s in store for the upcoming graduate.

    Can you tell us a little bit about your military service? 

    My military service was from 2002 to 2006, when I was medically discharged. I am currently a disabled veteran. I was in the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, an experimental urban combat unit. I was a Fire Team Leader in an Infantry platoon.

    How would you describe your overall experience at NYFA?

    My time at NYFA made me smarter than I initially believed I was. I walked in very knowledgeable about the film industry but what I thought I knew was nothing compared to what I learned. My ability to translate my ideas into content has increased tenfold. I no longer have to figure out how to get things done. I know now, and that’s the difference.

    I came to NYFA because I realized that the people I worked with would only teach me enough to work for them. Now I’m their equal—if not smarter.

    Congrats on becoming a member of the PGA Student Program. How did that come about?

    I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to become a PGA member if not for NYFA. I wouldn’t have had the ability to impress their board had I not absorbed all the information put out in the producer program. The producer program at NYFA is one of the most comprehensive programs in existence. I speak to other students from other schools and I often hear, “I wish they taught us that at [school’s name].” I walked into NYFA knowing what I wanted and needed. I’m leaving with all I’ve asked for plus more. Though very challenging, if you meet the challenges put before you, there is no way you can’t succeed in a career as a producer. My biggest dilemma at this moment is do I leave NYFA and work for myself, or take one of the many offers on the table.

    Would you recommend our current producing students become members of the PGA Student Program?

    I suggest every student in the producer program apply for the PGA student mentorship program. It’s a natural progression from NYFA. There is nothing they can throw at you that you won’t be prepared for. The program starts this Fall, so one can ask “How do you know that?” I know what I’ve been trained to do and unless the craft of producing does some weird 180 degree turn on me tomorrow I know I’m prepared for whatever this program requires of me. This is an opportunity to be great, and if you work hard at NYFA the glory is yours.

    If you had everything go your way: Where do you see yourself career-wise in five years?

    In five years my goal is to be able to be an artist. Producing is administrative but I see it as artistic as well. God is a producer. God produced the heavens and Earth and all things on it. Working for a ginormous company like Disney, producing Marvel movies, is a dream come true, but for me I want to be able to create art that is appreciated and lucrative at the same time. Whether that is TV, film, music videos, commercials or new media, I want to be able to get the ideas in my head manifested into reality. I want people to indulge in my creations—and I would like to be able to afford one of those penthouses on the Brooklyn skyline while doing it.

    Best of luck with that! Any final thoughts?

    Lastly, I would like to thank all of my instructors at NYFA because their contributions to my education and success are invaluable. I would like to give an extra thank you to Richard D’Angelo for his countless hours of instruction and care; Nick Yellen for pushing me, raising the bar every time I have to perform and prepping me for the PGA program; and last, but definitely not least, Neal Weisman—not only for putting our producing program together, but for taking a big chance on me.

    Prior to coming to NYFA I had some hang-ups with the military funding my education. I needed a few days past the course start date to work it out. Neal Weisman, without knowing anything about me, took a chance and vouched for me to start class while we worked out the details. He had no reason to trust I would be worth putting his name on the line but for some reason he did it. If he didn’t I would have missed this PGA opportunity. I really owe him a lot. In this world people don’t have faith in others, typically. He did what producers do and took a risk and I’m happy to have provided a good ROI (Return on Investment).

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    May 11, 2016 • Diversity, Producing, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4628

  • Photography Grads Work ‘Backstage’ Shoot with Chris Messina

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    Immediately after graduating from New York Film Academy Photography School, Luc-Richard Elie began assisting full time for several Commercial Advertising and Editorial photographers while also interning at Sync Photo Rental. Six months later he opened his own Film and Photo Rental Studio called Concrete Studios LA in the Downtown Arts District. Luc-Richard’s work has been published several times both domestically and internationally, including photography work for the Australian Consulate.

    Most Recently, he collaborated with fellow NYFA Alumnus and Army Veteran Liam Jager for the behind the scenes film to his Backstage shoot with actor Chris Messina from The Mindy Project.

    The New York Film Academy caught up with Luc-Richard following his recent shoot for Backstage.

    LR

    Luc-Richard Elie

    How did you become involved with Backstage?

    The Chris Messina shoot is actually my 6th cover for Backstage. My first involvement with the magazine came by way of another Photographer, Stephanie Diani, whom I’ve assisted on a number of editorial shoots with Backstage and at my studio in Downtown Los Angeles. During that process, I became acquainted with the Creative Director of Backstage, who by chance happened to see a glimpse of my portfolio. In October of last year, the magazine scheduled a shoot at my studio, but due to some last minute complications, lost the photographer the night before the shoot. The creative director, having seen my work, gave me a call and asked if I might be interested in shooting for the cover. That cover was for Gina Rodriguez (also her first cover) the star of the hit show, Jane the Virgin and now a Golden Globe Winner. I’ve been shooting for them ever since.

    What were some of the challenges of this specific shoot with Chris Messina? 

    With Chris there weren’t many challenges. He is very laid back and takes direction extremely well. He even offered suggestions, which made the shoot a collaboration and brought more energy into the overall experience. When we were moving between sets, Chris suggested we shoot in the staircase hallway. The lighting in the area was actually pretty bad, and the narrowness of the staircase didn’t really offer a lot of options to be creative, especially with the talent waiting and ready to go. So I gave some direction to my team and kept Chris entertained while all the lighting was being placed. It was important to stay loose and flexible in a situation like that. I pride myself on preparation, and staying cool when I’m thrown a curve ball. We were set up in about 10 minutes, and spent about 5 minutes shooting on the staircase before we wrapped for the day. Although it wasn’t originally planned, that shot ended up being the one used for the cover.


    Would you say your training at NYFA was useful in terms of being prepared for a shoot like this one?

    I’ve never used a DSLR or was actively in photography prior to NYFA. So, of course, just learning the basics of lighting and exposure is given. But it was the other intangibles that NYFA’s instructors prepared me for that have made all the difference. Always make sure you do preproduction prior to every shoot, and always be prepared to go off script.Very few things ever go as planned, but the better prepared you are the more success you’ll have in tackling obstacles. And most importantly, always display confidence and keep a cool head. Nothing can really prepare you for the feeling of having the creative director, the client, the publicist, make-up and hair, random assistants and especially the talent huddling around the computer and critiquing every shot you take as it come in.

    How do you feel about the final results from the shoot? Did you get any feedback from Backstage?

    I felt great about the shoot and the Art Director was pretty happy with the final results. I of course would have picked a few different pictures for the actually spread lol, But that’s just me being an artist and having an emotional attachment to some of my work. The magazine had a direction and voice they wanted for this particular article and I was able to provide the photos to support that vision.

    Do you have another project or shoot in the works?

    I just had some photos published in the New York Times and have some new work coming out in Angeleno Magazine this upcoming May. Aside from that, I’m gearing up to shoot a lot of personal projects for the summer. My goal is to shoot more Ad work for sports and lifestyle brands, so I’m spending a lot time working to revamp my portfolio to reflect that.

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    April 29, 2015 • Photography, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4577

  • Screenwriting Student Hosting History Channel’s ‘Forged in Fire’

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    As a school that prides itself on being a Top Military Friendly School, the New York Film Academy often highlights its veteran and former military students who have shown achievement and success both inside and outside the classroom. One of our current BFA Screenwriting students, Wil Willis, has already succeeded in finding his way into the business, as he is now hosting the History Channel’s Forged in Fire. The competition reality show—in the vein of Ink Masters or Face/ Off—pits master blacksmiths against one another in head-to-head competition to forge from scratch a weapon that could win them a $10,000 prize.

    Willis had been hosting a show for Discovery Channel’s American Heroes Channel, and the producers decided to test him for Forged in Fire. Willis tested well and the job was his.

    Before pursuing a career in entertainment, Willis served in the Army as a Ranger, and in the Air Force as a Pararescueman. After fifteen years in the military, Willis found himself working on the set of a Broken Lizard production. From there, he began taking acting classes on the down-low, so his military buddies wouldn’t find out. His decision to step out of the box paid off.

    “After acting in a couple films, someone asked me to be a TV show host,” recalled Willis. “I figured why not?” Life is all about adventure and having some cool stories to tell the nurses at the Veterans home.”

    From an early age, Willis had a fondness for storytelling and movies — especially 80s B-Movies like The BeastmasterGiven his passion and his goal of obtaining a college degree, Willis decided to pursue his BFA in Screenwriting at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles.

    willis

    In the process of learning how to properly structure his countless ideas, Willis recently finished a personal project titled Comatose Dad, about a veteran struggling to get his act together in the real world. In the script, the main character kidnaps his comatose father from the hospital and takes him on a road trip.

    With his foot already in the door, Willis has extremely strong ambitions. “It would be an honor to graduate with the other guys in my class. As far as achievements go…I want it all,” says Willis. “No one comes into this business wanting to ‘just get by.’ I think you’ve got to want it all to get anywhere. And when you start making progress, you’ve got to want more and push yourself and know that you can do better and that you’ll only be as good as the last project you worked on.”

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    April 6, 2015 • Screenwriting, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 8711

  • Robert Thorpe Wins Audience Choice Award for Best Director

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    Robert Thorpe

    Robert Thorpe with his actor Randall Wulff

    As a proud supporter of the GI Bill, the New York Film Academy was the perfect fit for military veteran and former student, Robert Thorpe. Robert came out of the military at the age of 38, and was looking to get immediate experience on set. “I wanted hands-on,” said Thorpe. “Get in, get dirty and make films.”

    While attending NYFA for a BFA in Filmmaking, Robert focused on his thesis film, The Birthing Field. “I knew a lot coming in to NYFA, having studied film privately, but I still needed to gain a better understanding of why I choose specific shots, or why I cut here or there. In essence, NYFA taught me how to use the camera as an extension of the story and not merely just to shoot some cool stuff.”

    Already an Audience Choice Award Winner for Best Director at the International Film Festival of Cinematic Arts Los Angeles, The Birthing Field is a dramatic horror about a young couple, Matt and Angie, who leave Boston to start a new life in San Diego. On their way while in Arizona, they are abducted and forced into the world of human trafficking where they must reproduce children for the black market.

    the birthing field

    While sitting at his desk one day, he noticed an image of a malnourished boy standing in front of a glass door with the yellow brilliance of the sun blowing out the background outside. The tones were so warm and inviting to the point that he began writing a story around the imagery. This story eventually evolved into The Birthing Field.

    Robert created the film with the initial focus on creating awareness and as a tool for raising funds for a feature version, which he is currently writing the screenplay for. He started working on the film in the fall of 2012 and soon realized his love for the world he created. Over the next year, he wrote several drafts of the script as well as a first draft for the feature. “I learned about my characters and they told me what they do,” said Robert. “I just had to put it on paper for everyone else to see. I rarely start writing the first draft with a whole story in mind — I am a visual person.

    Robert plans on shooting another short, a Sci-Fi horror called Alien Desert, before tackling the feature version of the The Birthing Field.

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    November 26, 2014 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5226