On May 18, a joint masterclass in storytelling and photography was held at the US Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy, hosted by New York Film Academy (NYFA) and United States Army Garrison (USAG). The students were from the garrison as well as from the local community and included filmmakers, writers, and photographers.
Storytelling was taught by Diana Santi, NYFA Program Director – Florence, Italy, while photography was taught by NYFA Chair of Photography David Mager.
Diana Santi is an award-winning director and producer of short films and commercials and has worked as 1st AD on many large-budget Italian commercials. She also founded Purple Reel Productions and directed the short film Florence in Love with the support of the Tuscan Film Commission and the City of Florence. She is currently Program Director of NYFA’s Florence location, where students learn filmmaking with the historical city as their breathtaking backdrop.
David Mager is an award-winning photographer with over 20 years of experience in the publishing, editorial, and advertising industries. Clients have included Disney, DK, Scholastic, Der Speigel, McGraw Hill, Penguin, Time Out NY, Parents Magazine, Paper, Flair, American Baby, and Park Place Magazine, to name a few. He is the current Chair of Photography for both the New York and South Beach, Miami campuses at New York Film Academy.
Together, the masterclass lasted four hours. Santi and Mager talked about the elements needed in storytelling for both moving image, screenwriting, and still imagery. Through examples for all genres, students were able to connect and gain insight into the necessary steps to successfully tell their stories.
The storytelling portion of the joint masterclass was entitled “The Secret Ingredients of Successful Stories” and asked the important questions: What is a story? Why do people tell stories? What are the elements that make a story successful? “I was honored to teach at the US Army Garrison in Vicenza and I hope that our workshop about visual storytelling can inspire new amazing stories,” says Santi.
The photography portion of the joint masterclass was called “Taking Creative Control of Your Camera: Demystifying the Elements of Exposure.” It focused on understanding how the camera works as well as how to use the elements of exposure to create visual decisions that transform snapshots into thoughtful, intentional images. “We had a great group of interested and engaged students,” describes Mager. “There were good conversations and some beautiful images made.”
Both workshops used a combination of lectures and hands-on activities. The event organizer at the Garrison, Jodi K. Giesbrecht, CYS Instructional Programs Specialist, USAG Italy – Vicenza Military Community, was thrilled with the joint masterclass and “would love to plan for more exciting and creative events provided by [NYFA].”
A special screening of Netflix’s hit series, Medal of Honor, was held at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) Theater in New York City last week, hosted by NYFA’S Division of Veteran Services (DVS).
Commissioner Loree Sutton MD (Brigadier General Ret.) of New York City’s Department of Veteran Services and Medal of Honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.) participated in an unfeigned discussion with attendees after the screening of Episode 8, which featured the heroic story of Staff Sergeant Ty Cater, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama in 2013 for his heroic actions in Afghanistan.
Reflecting on the Medal of Honor experience from a personal perspective, Colonel Jack Jacobs, who has been the Chair of New York Film Academy’s Veteran Advancement Program since 2014, and is also an on-air Military Analyst at MSNBC/NBC news, answered questions from the audience along side the Commissioner Sutton.
NYFA Acting for Film alum Tyler Williams, who portrays Ty Carter in the episode, not only conveyed the authentic challenges service members face in their transition back from combat, but will be screening the episode with veteran students at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus on February 11.
“A successful transition home is important not only to veterans, but the families and communities they return to,” asserted Commissioner Sutton, an Army psychiatrist and a fierce advocate in New York City for services that protect and empower returning service members.
Attendees engaged openly with the Commissioner Sutton and Colonel Jacobs in a series of questions that ranged from the philosophical (“Do you think that Plato was right when he stated that only the dead have seen the end of war?”) to the pragmatic (“How do vets leverage the skills they learned in the military if they want to work in film and television?”)
Both speakers believe the arts offered great opportunities for healing. Army veteran Justin Ford, a NYFA Filmmaking & Producing conservatory grad, enthusiastically stated, “It was a really great opportunity to hear Commissioner Sutton’s and Colonel Jacobs’ thoughts about the Medal of Honor, war, and returning home from the defining moment of many young veteran’s life—combat.”
The Netflix screening and special quest speakers made for a very moving and emotional evening, which was made all the more special by a touching and warm exchange of military challenge coins that passed reciprocally between Colonel Jacobs and Commissioner Sutton at the event’s conclusion.
New York Film Academy students can attend another screening of Medal of Honor at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus on February 11, with special guest Tyler Williams — you can RSVP for the event here.
On November 15, 2018 New York Film Academy Los Angeles veteran-students gathered in the NYFA Theater, for a special lecture from Medal of Honor Recipient and appointed Chair of NYFA’s Veterans Advancement Program Colonel Jack Jacobs.
Colonel Jacobs served in the U.S. Military for more than 20 years and his gallantry in Vietnam earned him the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest combat honor—as well as two Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts. Colonel Jacobs is a military strategist and on-air analyst for NBC and MSNBC News.
Colonel Jacobs’ mission at NYFA is to support the Academy’s veteran-students’ transition from the military to exciting careers in media and entertainment.
The evening began with a screening of the documentary about Colonel Jacobs that recounted the events that took place during the Vietnam War and Colonel Jacobs’ dauntless actions that later earned him the Medal of Honor.
Honorable Col. Jack Jacobs (MoH Recipient) with NYFA veteran-students.
During the talk, Colonel Jacobs discussed his personal experience in transitioning from the military to civilian life and offered his advice to the veterans in attendance. The Colonel’s personal experiences, his inspiration, and at times his wit, touched several pungent topics. He emphasized his belief that the military is the only place that will give an 18-year-old man or woman a large amount of responsibility and this prepares them – more than most 18-year old who have not served – for nearly any career and circumstance. “An employer who hires a veteran, gains a huge benefit due to the work ethic and skills that they learned and honed while serving our great Country” stated Jacobs. He spoke on how veterans should walk into a job interview confident that with their military background, they know both how to follow and how to lead.
The evening concluded with Colonel Jacobs taking photos and talking with the NYFA veteran-students as well as other vets in attendance from Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME), and the Veterans Affairs (VA).
It was truly a great experience and very inspirational evening for everyone in attendance.
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.
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!
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).
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.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA) College of Visual and Performing Arts’ Division of Veterans Services (DVS) recently welcomed NYFA’s veteran students and alumni, together with members of Veterans in Media & Entertainment (VME), to a screening of the hit animated series Rick and Morty. Following the screening, the audience was treated to a Q&A with casting director extraordinaire, Robert McGee, C.S.A.
The event was part of the NYFA DVS series of events that includes guest speakers, film screenings, master classes, workshops, and employment trainings — all of which promote industry engagement for NYFA’s veteran students, as well as the wider veteran communities, in Los Angeles, New York City, and South Beach (Miami).
In addition to Rick and Morty, McGee has cast such hit shows as The Cleveland Show and Wizards of Waverly Place, as well as successful films such as The Virgin Suicides and World’s Greatest Dad, which starred Robin Williams. McGee is currently casting the newest rendition of The Adams Family, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Oscar Isaac, Nick Kroll, and Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron.
With over 20 years of experience in the casting business in both live action and animation, McGee enjoyed sharing valuable insight on the casting process for both live action and voice over work. McGee is very passionate about the casting business and enjoys meeting actors.
“The Q&A with Mr. McGee was very insightful,” said NYFA BFA Producing student and U.S. Navy veteran Jonathan Garza. “As a Producing student it was very informative, learning the complexities of what a casting director goes through and how intricate the casting process is.”
The New York Film Academy thanks Robert McGee for his generosity and willingness to help veterans pursuing careers in the film industry.
The New York Film Academy (NYFA)’s New York City campus recently hosted nearly 50 veterans, active-duty military personnel, and dependents for an evening master class in the application and principles of light in digital photography.
Chair of the NYFA Photography Program David Mager facilitated the three-hour workshop.
Professor Mager’s lecture Principles of Light served as a great introduction to the laws and active principles behind the lighting of any scene. Attendees learned to approach a shoot with a pre-visualized idea of what story they want the light to tell.
Both the lecture and hands-on exercises guided attendees to see what different types of light look like, and how to think about lighting as an essential tool in image creation. See more photos from the day here.
NYFA’s Chair of the Veterans Advancement Program, The Honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, treated the participants to welcome remarks.
NYFA provided this photography workshop at no charge to the veteran participants as part of the institution’s support of service members residing in the communities where NYFA has U.S. campuses: Los Angeles, New York City, and South Beach (Miami). In the past two years, NYFA’s Division of Veteran Services has provided more than a dozen such free masterclasses in various filmmaking related disciplines including Acting, Screenwriting, Filmmaking, and Acting for Film.
The Austin Convention Center housed the daylong event and featured a six-hour interactive instructional seminar, titled Anatomy of a Scene, presented by NYFA New York City Chair of Short Term Programs Jonathan Whittaker. The seminar included lecture, screening, and group participation, to coach on writing, breaking down, and directing a scene. The seminar explored all aspects of filmmaking, including cinematography, producing, editing, acting, and screenwriting.
From left to right: Stephanie Whallon, Incentive Program Manager, Texas Film Commission; Cruz Montemayor, Deputy Executive Director, Texas Veterans Commission; Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair, NYFA Veterans Advancement Program; Allen Bergeron, Veterans Program Administrator, City of Austin; John Powers, Director, NYFA Division of Veterans Services
On hand to greet the nearly 70 military participants were the honorable Colonel Jack Jacobs, Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC and Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program; Cruz Montemayor, Deputy Executive Director, Texas Veterans Commission; Allen Bergeron, Military Veterans Program Manager, City of Austin; Minhu Vu, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Texas Film Commission; and Stephanie Whallon, Incentive Program Manager, Texas Film Commission.
A highlight for NYFA was the presentation to Colonel Jacobs of a Special Proclamation by Austin’s Mayor, Steve Adler, declaring April 14 as “NYFA DAY” in the City of Austin!
In part, the Proclamation reads:
Be it known that
The New York Film Academy College of Visual & Performing Arts (NYFA) seeks to promote and advance the art of visual storytelling through film and related media including staged performance as a transformational and ennobling vehicle to both the creator and audience; and
This art has a profound impact on the individuals, communities and global society and therefor NYFA seeks to make visual storytelling education accessible to the most diverse, international, and broadest possible spectrum of people from all backgrounds who one day will serve the visual storytelling arts as industry leaders; and
We appreciate NYFA for their innovative efforts in the film and arts industry and for supporting members of the Military who are currently serving and have served our country along with their families. Austin is proud to be called home to many of the brave men and women who serve(d) in the Military and to have the opportunity to explore various aspects of filmmaking through NYFA; and
I, Steve Adler, Mayor of the City of Austin, Texas,
do hereby proclaim
April 14, 2018
NYFA’s President Michael Young expressed gratitude to Mayor Adler, stating, “We are incredibly honored and humbled to receive this proclamation from a city that does so much veterans, for film, and for the arts. The New York Film Academy hopes return to Austin frequently to partner on these efforts.
NYFA’s Division of Veterans Services has been privileged to enroll and support more than 1,500 veteran students and military dependents at its U.S. campuses since 2009. Many NYFA programs are approved for Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits, and the Los Angeles and South Beach campuses also participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Few people have the grit and the determination to become a Navy SEAL, but New York Film Academy alum Kenny Sheard has shown that no matter what he sets his mind to, he brings in the full force of his incredible work ethic, talent, and stamina. After honorably serving in the Navy for 12 years and attaining a place with the world famous, elite Navy SEALS, Sheard has managed to forge an entirely new and challenging path for himself in the civilian world as an actor and stunt performer in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and series.
Sheard booked his first stunt job in the Transformers franchise while still actively serving in the reserves, and from there, came to NYFA to master new skills in Filmmaking. Since then, his creative career has skyrocketed, with stunt credits in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Fear of the Walking Dead, Logan, and the upcoming Avatar 2, among many many more. His acting credits continue to build up as well, with his most recent appearance alongside Chris Hemsworth in 12 Strong, now available to stream on Amazon.
NYFA alum Kenny Sheard via IMDB
Through it all, Sheard has worked hard to keep learning, stay humble, and encourage fellow veterans as they transition to civilian life. Here, he shares his best advice and some of his story with the NYFA Blog. Check out what he has to say:
NYFA: First, can you tell us a bit about your journey and what brought you to NYFA?
KS: I’m originally from Miami, FL, and attended College in Newburg, NY, for a few years, but didn’t finish. I moved home, joined the military in May of 2001, and served on active duty until May 2013. In 2010, while assigned to a training command, I was given an opportunity to use my saved up leave (vacation time) to play a minor stunt/acting role on Transformers 3. That experience and a multitude of things that followed are what ultimately lead me to the Filmmaking course at NYFA.
NYFA: Why filmmaking? What inspires you most about film? What stories are you most passionate to tell?
KS: Films have entertained and inspired me as far back as I can recall. I enjoy reading; however, films have had a more substantial impact on me. In my experience, I’m able to feel and perceive the world through this visual medium in ways that I might not ever have had the chance to, like through a mother’s loving eyes or a tormented serial killer. Personally, I prefer fiction over reality-based stories. That said, some of the most influential films I’ve seen have also been “based on true story” movies. The stories I’m passionate to tell lean on the darker and grittier side.
NYFA: Do you have any favorite NYFA moments from your time studying with us?
KS: I don’t have any favorite standout moments, but I got a ton out of the experience. The teachers were knowledgeable and went above and beyond.
NYFA: As a veteran, what is your best advice to fellow veterans and active service members interested in transitioning into the visual and performing arts?
KS: My advice would be to stay focused on your goals/dreams, be true to who you are always, and destroy the ego. Use the discipline, structure, and attention to detail you’ve acquired from your time of service and apply it to your new creative ventures in life.
Have a work hard, hustle attitude, with a positive and open mind. Don’t ever hang your choice to serve over anyone’s head, ever.
Sounds like a cheesy poster, but hey, get after it!
NFYA: You launched your career in the Transformers franchise while still serving in the reserves. What was that experience like?
KS: Being a part of Transformers was awesome. I met Michael Bay and Harry Humphries through a friend, Echy.
I can’t say enough great things about Bay and being exposed to a film set like that. I enjoyed every moment, and it came at a time when I had no idea what to do next in life. If I tried to put words to the whole experience and what it’s meant to me, it would degrade it.
NYFA: You’ve worked in some incredibly successful, major films — from John Wick to 13 Hours and Transformers: Age of Extinction. What is your best advice to our students to prepare for the transition from school to a large-scale blockbuster set?
KS: That’s a tough one. I think some people get it, and some don’t. I can’t imagine anything I write here might shatter any glass for readers. See my advice to veterans; it applies to all.
NYFA: Acting and stunts — how does your preparation process change depending on your work?
KS: These are two very different worlds, which I’m on the bottom of the barrel in both. When it comes to acting, I’m just playing myself. Other than knowing my lines, which have yet to be extensive, there’s not a ton of prep for me.
Stunts, on the other hand, require a ton of prep. I think I need to point out here that I’m relatively green in the stunt world. The pool of talent I’ve had the honor of working with in the stunt world is insane, and I’m far from being considered anyone of a high caliber. My tactical background has helped me out tremendously, but I’m still learning a ton every project I’m on.
NYFA: What is your favorite part of working in stunts? Have there been any surprises and challenges along the way, and how do you overcome them?
KS: My favorite part of working in the stunt community has been the people. Every project I’m on, I’m always impressed with the talent and comradery. I can’t say that I’ve ever been surprised, but it’s always challenging and fun.
NYFA: Can you tell us a bit about 12 Strong? What was that filming experience like?
KS: 12 Strong was an outstanding experience. From meeting the guys whom the story was about, to working with all the talented actors and stunt team, it was awesome. I wouldn’t know where to start, the director and producers were solid to work for as well.
It’s a hard thing telling a true story, and I think Nicolai Fuglsig did an exceptional job. The men who the story is about were very pleased with it, and you can’t ask for anything better than that. I was deeply honored to play Bill Bennett, a medic who later lost his life overseas in Iraq in 2003.
The New York Film Academy would like to thank Kenny Sheard for taking the time to share his story with the NYFA community. 12 Strong is available to stream on Amazon.
NYFA Veteran Students with Col. Jack Jacobs (NYFA Chair of Veteran Advancement Program)
Everybody knows by now that the Internet is filled with countless blogs, from globally famous media companies to ones covering even the tiniest of niches. But there’s at least one blog that’s doing great work serving an often overlooked yet large and vitally important demographic—the United States military community.
The blog, We Are The Mighty, is for veterans, servicemen and women, and their families, and covers everything from military news to pop culture, with both thoughtfully penned articles and silly, amusing listicles. Overall, WATM’s mission statement is “Celebrating military service with stories that inspire,” but in doing so, it’s also provided a way for the community to congregate, communicate, and share their ideas and views through its site and social media.
NYFA BFA Filmmaking and MFA Screenwriting Alum Tim Kirkpatrick
Tim Kirkpatrick is one of the writers for We Are The Mighty, and has already built an impressive portfolio of articles. Kirkpatrick is a Navy veteran, having entered as a Hospital Corpsman in 2007. In the fall of 2010, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines.
After coming back stateside, Kirkpatrick enrolled at the New York Film Academy and earned his AFA degree in filmmaking from our Los Angeles campus. Honing his skills even further, Kirkpatrick followed his filmmaking education with NYFA’s 8-Week Screenwriting workshop.
One of his most recent pieces is about the New York Film Academy itself, highlighting the Academy’s relationship to the Military and veteran community. As Kirkpatrick mentions in his article, “At any given time, NYFA caters to over 200 veterans in the student body and the school takes pride in putting a camera in their hands on the first day of class,” while also adding that NYFA has enrolled over 1500 veterans and dependents of veterans in total.
The Military and veteran community is an important part of the NYFA family. Kirkpatrick mentions in his article the Academy’s V.S.A., or Veteran Student Association, where vets from different branches of the armed forces come together over their shared love of film and the visual arts.
Kirkpatrick also shouts out the venerable Colonel Jack Jacobs, who in addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient and on-air military strategist for NBC/MSNBC, is the Chair of the NYFA Veterans Advancement Program.
The Military and the film industry are a more natural pairing than some may suspect. Kirkpatrick writes, “As in the Military, the film industry uses a precise chain of command for its operational purposes, so vets feel right at home on set — hierarchy and order (and yes, even paperwork) have been branded into their solid work ethic.”
You can check out Tim Kirkpatrick and the other writers at We Are The Mighty here.