New York Film Academy
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New York Film Academy Master of Fine Arts

Master of Fine Arts in Acting

NYFA MFA acting students preparing for a scene NYFA MFA acting students cafe scene MFA acting students mid-scene NYFA 2 year MFA acting students in action

Overview of our MFA in Acting for Film

The Academy makes the MFA Acting program's accelerated 20-month schedule possible by creating an extended academic year, allowing students to complete all five semesters of the program in under two years.

New York Film Academy MFA degree programs are offered at our Los Angeles and South Beach Campuses.

Qualified students have the option of completing course work at the New York Film Academy's acting school in New York City in a one-year non-degree program and then applying their course work to be accepted for advanced standing in the MFA Acting for Film degree program.

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This MFA Acting program consists of five semesters, each semester running for 15 weeks. Each of the semesters requires complete commitment on the part of the student. A standard week of study involves additional time in the evenings and on weekends for classes, rehearsals, and shoots.


NYFA MFA acting school student in ninja attire PRACTICAL HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE
The New York Film Academy's Master of Fine Arts in Acting program is based on a simple philosophy: the best way to learn how to act in films is to actually act in films. Acting school students begin acting in front of the camera from the first week of the program. Every week, students apply the techniques and skills gained in class to on camera exercises that are shot and reviewed.

The New York Film Academy's Acting MFA instructors are working veterans of Hollywood, independent film, Broadway, and Off-Broadway.

Many of our programs require the production of short films or scenes that will star our Acting students. These are shot and edited together and may be used for students' own reels.

The Acting for Film MFA program works hand-in-hand with the filmmaking program. This provides all of our students with such resources as film equipment and live film shoots, as well as helping them develop a network of filmmakers, screenwriters, producers, and editors before entering the professional world.

All of our Acting MFA students will graduate with shot and edited materials that are suitable to put on an actor's reel.

MFA acting students during a take


The first semester of NYFA's MFA Acting program concentrates on building a foundation in the craft of acting, using training techniques rooted in the theater but applicable to the screen. Students participate in an intensive array of core classes that guide them to find the actor within, simultaneously training their instrument to do the kind of technical, emotional, and physical work necessary for film acting. Acting for Film students will shoot a short film project on location with a professional staff.

  • Explore and learn the principles of acting technique.
  • Learn the vocabulary of filmmaking for actors.
  • Become familiarized with the logistics of filming and working on a film set.
  • Understand how to break down a scene and analyze a character.
  • Recognize the differences between film acting and stage performance.
  • Learn to break down, analyze, and rehearse stage scenes
  • Rehearse and tape film scenes to be analyzed and critiqued in class.
  • Break down, analyze, and rehearse selected scenes for in-class filmed performances.
  • Perform in a semester–end, filmed scene presentation for an invited audience.
  • Develop, rehearse, and perform in a fully-realized film scene shot in the studio or on location. This project will be presented to an invited audience.

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In the second semester, the acting school's core classes continue as students focus on applying the techniques they have learned to more elaborate scene work, on camera exercises, and film shoots — all designed to develop and hone screen-acting ability. All students perform in on-camera shoots. In addition, a variety of classes are given in order to broaden students' knowledge of acting techniques, the film business, acting for television, and many different film crafts.

The second semester culminates in a public presentations of student work.There will be a live showcase performance of scenes for an invited audience of friends and family.

NYFA MFA acting students in a fight scene ACTING MFA LEARNING GOALS
  • Learn to work for directors on live film sets.
  • Gain knowledge of the differences between demands upon the actor on film and television productions.
  • Develop a deeper comprehension of acting skills though scene work and instruction in a variety of techniques including Meisner, Method, and Stanislavski.
  • Continue training in advance vocal and movement work, including motion capture performance.
  • Perform scenes in a semester-end, filmed scene presentation for a live audience.
  • Perform in both multi-camera and single camera in-class television shoots.
  • Perform in a motion-capture project.


The third semester of the Year One enables students to continue developing as actors by challenging their range, and moving beyond their “comfort zone.” The third semester allows the student to become even more specific with acting technique. Our Writing for Actors course prepares students to develop their own content, and the students will create, film, and perform an original webisode pilot.

Throughout their time pursuing an acting a Master of Fine Arts degree students will:
  • Continue to practice in front of camera, behind camera, and to work in post-production.
  • Pitch, write, produce, film an original webisode pilot.
  • Continue to develop a deeper comprehension of stage vs. film performance.
  • Learn sound writing principles.
  • Analyze and understand the work of Shakespeare.
  • Perform in an in-class, filmed Shakespeare presentation.
  • Create, film, and perform in an original webisode pilot.
  • Perform in an in-class presentation of scenes, based on different eras of acting styles throughout history.


Through exposure to the many facets of the professional world of film acting, the second year prepares students for their thesis projects. All Year Two MFA students must complete a series of highly-specialized courses, participate in multiple film productions, and ultimately deliver a thesis project of their own creation.

At the beginning of semester four, students receive MFA thesis project options to choose and prep for intensive fifth semester thesis work. Students will meet with Academic Advisors and mentors periodically throughout the second year. The focus of the fourth semester is on refining performance skills. Semester four classes are infused with an emphasis on perfecting their craft. This is intended to prepare MFA students for their thesis projects as well as for a life in the industry after graduation.

  • Continue to practice in front of camera, behind camera, in a recording studio, and in post-production.
  • Continue work and deeper comprehension of stage vs. film performance.
  • Become familiarized with voice-over techniques.
  • Learn how to prepare and present yourself for auditions.
  • Learn skills for improvisation work.
  • Develop more advanced skills in film acting techniques in a fully-produced, original short film.
  • Perform in an in-class, filmed improvisation presentation.
  • Prepare and record original voice-over material in a recording studio.
  • Perform in a filmed play presentation.


At this point, master's students devote the majority of their time to their Thesis Project. Acting faculty will coach and assist students individually in an extensive series of advisements to ensure the successful completion of thesis requirements. The goal of this last semester for Master students is to develop their own vision and voice as a creative artist.

In their fifth semester pursuing an acting Master of Fine Arts degree students will:
  • Further develop advanced scene study techniques.
  • Continue work and deeper comprehension of stage vs. film performance.
  • Develop skills necessary for auditioning and the realities of the acting industry.
  • Understand marketing tools used by film actors.
  • Create a thesis project.
  • Perform final showcase performance in front of a live audience.
  • Perform in a thesis film project for final screening.
Each MFA degree candidate will complete a thesis in their final semester that includes both a significant creative project and substantial supporting written documentation. It is their opportunity to create and construct work that is important to their identity as an artist, and the choices they intend to make in their career. It is the synthesis of what they have learned in relationship to the broader field of acting.


This project will consist of both a performance on film and a written thesis paper (20-page minimum excluding final script). Each student must present his or her own thesis project.

Thesis projects are to be undertaken under the guidance of a thesis advisor. The student will meet with the thesis advisor throughout various stages of the project, including submission of the proposal, pre-production, rehearsals, and documentation.

Course Descriptions

Semester One
Technique & Scene Study I
Acting for Film I
Voice & Movement I
Semester Two
Technique & Scene Study II
Acting for Film II (Scripted TV)
Voice & Movement II
Critical Writing
Cinema Studies
Semester Three
Technique & Scene Study III (Period Styles)
Acting for Film III (New Media)
Writing for Actors
Performing Shakespeare
Great Screenplays

Semester Four
Technique & Scene Study IV (Play production Workshop)
Acting for Film IV (Final film)
Audition Technique I
Voice Over
Semester Five
Technique & Scene Study V (Industry Showcase)
Business of Acting
Audition Technique II
Thesis Development


Technique & Scene Study I

Acting Technique & Scene Study I provides students with the preparatory building blocks, which lay a solid foundation from which to go deeper into the craft. They will learn of the rich Acting Technique traditions that have shaped the craft today. Students will learn about their responsibility to the writer, script, and fellow students as they analyze their emotional and physical instrument and begin to practice technique exercises which will give them insight into the primary function of the Actor; that of making clear, readable choices for a character in a given imaginary circumstance. Students will practice relaxation, concentration, and specificity exercises as well as learn how to prepare emotionally for a performance. Students learn to analyze scripts and break them down into units or “beats.” They develop a solid grounding in establishing a character based on their own experiences and imagination. In the course, they will begin to understand the differences between techniques and personal process. The focus of Technique & Scene Study I is process not product. Students will work on exercises, monologues, and short scenes from plays applying the techniques they have studied.
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This course introduces the beginning Acting for Film students the skills necessary for creating a fully realized performance. The primary emphasis of the class is the practice of the subtlety and nuance of film acting including learning to adjust the performance for specific shot size, finding the arc of the character, and learning how to maintain the integrity of the script while shooting out of sequence. Film set terminology and etiquette is also addressed. Students collaborate in a supervised Production Workshop with film students, which is a full immersion production approach to Acting for Film instruction.
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VOICE & Movement I

In this course students will explore their ability to engage the voice and body as tools for performance. Students will begin to develop an awareness of vocal and physical tendencies and will experience a more visceral and direct connection to their voices and bodies unimpeded by habitual tension. Through the study of phonetic sounds and optimal vowel formation a deeper, more precise and nuanced experience of sounds will be felt and realized. Students will cultivate tools to externalize their internal life in an authentic manner using vocal and physical impulse and command. Various 2019-20 New York Film Academy, Los Angeles Course Catalog 216 training methods will be utilized, including but not limited to the following vocal techniques – Lessac, Linklater, Fitzmaurice, Skinner, and Knight-Thompson, and the following movement techniques – Viewpoints, Suzuki Method, Dance, Yoga, Laban Analysis, Contact Improvisation, Grotowski, and Chekhov Technique.
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Film Craft provides the Acting for Film students with a full-immersion experience into the world of film production. Students gain basic working knowledge of directing, cinematography, writing, producing, and editing, inhabiting rotating crew positions, allowing for real-time experience in a short in-class shoot, supervised by the instructor.
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Technique & Scene Study II

Acting Technique & Scene Study II continues the exploration of relaxation, sensory awareness, and creative choice-making and individual performance elements in exercises designed to enhance the students' ability to synthesize their own practical techniques for performance on screen or stage. This course will increase the Actor's awareness of his or her instrument. They will also develop their ability to focus their attention and create detailed and vibrant imaginative worlds. The student will learn the value of observation and replication in character work, and have an increased awareness of real and imagined stimuli to create points of concentration to ground their performances in the given circumstances of their acting work. Students will learn to extract given circumstances from the text, to create strong objectives, and to use active verbs to create vibrant performances. Emotional preparation will be more deeply explored and students will further understand the concept of a personal process. Exercises may be taped for in-class critique and evaluation. They will perform in a taped live presentation for an audience at the end of the semester.
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Acting for Film II (SCRIPTED TV)

Through rehearsing various genres of scripted television, students are exposed to the techniques necessary for both multi-camera and single camera shoots for television. Students will learn the technical aspects of working on a set with multi-camera and single camera set-ups. The course contains two in-class shoots.
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Expanding upon the techniques and skills learned in Voice & Movement I, students will continue to deepen their ability to express character and emotion through the refinement of vocal and physical variety, as well as organic connection to their physical instrument. An ability to connect images while letting the image resonate through the voice and body with supported breath will be emphasized through working with text and character. This course will focus on applying resonation, articulation and physicalization to character through improvised and scripted performance. Additionally, students will explore on-camera work and performance motion capture, learning exercises and theory on the technology and methodology of how Mocap works.
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Critical Writing introduces students to techniques and principles of academic research and writing. The course compares the works of 20th century American playwrights and Oscar-winning screenwriters through various literary theories. The focus of the course emphasizes critical reasoning, research, and active use of source material in the creation of effective thesis statements, academic claims, and critical assessment of the artistic process.
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Cinema Studies introduces students to the evolution of the motion picture industry from its inceptions. Students will be given a thorough creative, technological and industrial view of the art of filmmaking from historical and theoretical viewpoints. While this course focuses primarily on American film history, the impact of international film industries and its filmmakers is given due analysis.
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Students will study and analyze contemporary plays and screenplays, choosing an existing play, or scenes from an existing play that they will rehearse and perform on stage. Students learn how to assess the needs of the scene through application of text analysis, inhabiting given circumstances, development and pursuit of strong objectives. They will also incorporate voice and movement training and technique through moment to moment communication with their scene partners as well as breaking text into beats and making strong choices. Performances will be taped in a live presentation at the end of the semester.
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The Acting for Film III course introduces students to New Media landscape and presents an overview of the tools that can help students take control of their careers. Every two students will collaborate to create, pitch, write and produces a “pilot” for a scripted Webisode. The pilot scripts should not exceed five pages, and will be accompanied by a Blueprint for a Pitch Package or “bible” that will outline future episodes for a completed series and introduce the world that the show will create on the web. The pilot must also be able to be filmed in a single day and will be edited by the two students who created it. The class is broken down into both Lecture, Production and Workshop where students will present material for the New Media concept and project.
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Students learn sound writing principles and apply them to creating a variety of scripted projects. Multiple writing exercises are designed to spark the creative process. Actors refine their work through multiple rewrites, focusing on character-driven pieces.
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This is an Actor's course for performing Shakespeare. As a realistic/film Actor, the student will learn to evaluate what the language is doing and the action that is implied. Students will develop the fundamental concepts of scansion, meter, text analysis, and scene study as it pertains to the demands of performing heightened language. Performing Shakespeare will guide them to further development of the vocal and physical dexterity demanded by the text. The course will culminate in either a taped and/or live performance of Shakespeare's works via sonnets, monologues, soliloquies, and/or scenes from his various plays.
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The Great Screenplays focuses on exploring Academy Award-winning American and foreign screenplays. Through in-class screenings, readings of screenplays, lectures, and discussions, students will gain a deeper understanding of how the art of screenwriting has evolved since the 1920s.
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This course gives students an opportunity to put to use all the performance skills they have been studying in the program thus far. Early in the term, a full-length play is selected by the instructor and/or the students, which will strongly serve the talents and skill set of the ensemble. This course focuses on practical dynamics of the director- 2019-20 New York Film Academy, Los Angeles Course Catalog 218 actor relationship with the students applying text analysis, character development, and the pursuit of super and immediate objectives, in order to fully realize a polished and professional performance. The course culminates in multiple performances before a live audience, one of which is taped and made available to the students.
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Students immerse themselves into rehearsing for the filmed production of their screenplay, written in Semester Three, to be shot with a professional crew and screened at the end of the program. Students will also co-produce the film and will be intensively involved in production as well as acting throughout the shoot days. This experience offers students an invaluable opportunity to explore the breadth of skills required for the film actor.
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This course serves as an introduction to the audition landscape for the entry-level professional actor. Students will learn to apply the tools and techniques acquired in other acting classes to the specific needs of on-camera and theater auditions, including: detailed text analysis, thorough preparation, and making clear and effective choices. The unique requirements of commercial auditions will be introduced, with on-camera practice on a variety of commercial types. Student's on-camera work will be viewed and critiqued weekly with the aim of preparing students to enter today's highly competitive industry.
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Students will learn the highly specialized skill of voiceover acting. They will discover what kind of voiceover work they are most suited for and learn how to use their voice in different ways. They will also get information about job opportunities available in this field and have an opportunity to create their own voiceover material during a final recording session in one of NYFA's professional studios.
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Improvisation encourages students to skillfully nurture their instincts and freely release their creative impulses through a variety of individual and group exercises.
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Students work on advanced scenes, furthering their development in emotional availability, personalization, transference, stakes, and urgency in performance. They are encouraged to explore more intense and emotionally deeper material, choosing scenes that expand his or her characterization work. This course will culminate in a live Showcase of scenes for Industry and an invited audience.
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This course teaches advanced Business of Acting skills to students on the verge of graduating with an MFA in Acting for Film. Students will create a business plan which includes research on headshot photographers, writing resumes, researching and targeting appropriate representation and casting directors, as well as familiarity with the basic contracts of today's industry. Effective use of online marketing tools will be discussed as well as the impact and strategies dictated by new media. Students will assemble a professional portfolio which will include their headshot, resume and demo reel.
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Building on the foundation of Audition Technique I, this course expands and develops the student's audition skills through weekly drills of mock, on-camera audition situations in a wide range of Film and Television scripts. Advanced topics will include cold-reading skills, improvisational auditions and self-taping for online submission. Student's on-camera work will be viewed and critiqued weekly.
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This class will be geared toward assisting the student in the creation of the Thesis Project, which will include intensive research, writing, and preparatory work. Students will also be able to troubleshoot areas of concern.
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