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NYFA Guest Speak series highlights

NYFA Guest Speaker Series Highlights

February 15, 2016 As a college that prides itself on the motto of "learning by doing," the New York Film Academy frequently hosts a Guest Speaker Series, which provides students and alumni an opportunity to learn from those who are truly out there doing well at the top echelons of the industry.

Over the years the Academy has welcomed elites in all aspects of entertainment, including Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Ron Howard, Glenn Close and many more.

Over the past few months we've had the opportunity to moderate and host some really incredible screenings and Q&A's with well-known actors, producers, animators, directors, agents and more.

Below is a sample of some of those Guest Speakers:

Sacha Baron Cohen
Known for his groundbreaking and original comedic characters from Da Ali G Show, Sacha Baron Cohen and the team at Sony Pictures invited the New York Film Academy to an exclusive screening of his new film The Brothers Grimsby. Following the film, NYFA Instructor Ben Cohen was able to pick his comedic brain in order to find out just what's going in his outrageous head.

Despite all the antics and shocking comedy bits, Cohen admitted, "I know it sounds cheesy, but I had a moment when I heard the crowd going wild and I had this realization that I'm doing this all for the fans."

Jonathan Groff
Playing the role of Holden Ford in Netflix's Mindhunter, Groff has appeared as King George III in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, in the Broadway revival of rock musical Spring Awakening, the critically acclaimed revival of Hair, as well as two Craig Lucas plays, Prayer for My Enemy and The Singing Forest.

It goes without saying that the New York Film Academy Musical Theatre students were thrilled when Groff held a Master Class during one of their sessions. As some students may tell you, at NYFA, you never know who will show up during class.

Groff coached six Musical Theatre students, working with each of them to find a different and more personal approach to each of their songs."I was so thrilled to find that the students at NYFA are as fearless as they are talented," said Groff. "It was an honor and inspiration to work with them."

Jack Rapke
As a man who worked his way up from the mailroom at William Morris Agency, Rapke is now partners with Robert Zemeckis at the incredibly successful production company ImageMovers.

After a screening of his film The Walk, Rapke enlightened students on the hard truths of his incredibly competitive business. He recalled his own crossroads as an aspiring producer, saying, "Look, there was always only two paths for me. I was either going to be accepted into this industry whatever form that took by the powers that be, and I still don't know who those powers are, or they were going to have to kill me. It was binary. There was never any other choice."

Rapke is now serving as Executive Producer on the upcoming "Untitled Steven Knight WW2 Project" starring Brad Pitt, to be directed by Zemeckis for Paramount Pictures.

Lenny Abrahamson
With Oscar season in the heat of things, NYFA Los Angeles welcomed Academy Award nominated Director Lenny Abrahamson after a screening of his Academy Award nominated film, Room.

The focus of Abrahamson's Q&A revolved around the advice of networking. He stressed the absolute importance of students working with one another both inside and outside of the classroom, citing his own connections to Room's producer, composer and writer—which were vital in getting the film made.

Darrin Butters

The New York Film Academy 3D Animation School had the rare opportunity to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Zootopia, with Darrin Butters, who has been an animator for all of Walt Disney Animation Studios' top hits including Big Hero 6, Frozen and Tangled.

Butters discussed the extensive research that went into the development of the characters, highlighting how perfecting the motion of each animal was the main focus of Butters' and his team's focus before beginning to animate the production.

"We're not shooting for realism, but it has to be believable," he added.

Butters advice to our young crop of talented animators was to "show your work early and show often. You want that collaboration."

Bob Dotson
With over 1,500 news stories under his belt as a correspondent for NBC's Today Show, Dotson provided unparalleled advice and inspiration to the New York Film Academy Broadcast Journalism students.

The eight-time Emmy Award-winner and New York Times best-selling author said, "I try to do stories about seemingly ordinary people, who do something extraordinary. The people who are just quietly working behind the celebrity mirror."

Dotson added, "It's how you structure your story that's important," stressed Dotson. "Whether you know how to write very well or even if you're still struggling with the visuals or the technical things. And it doesn't make any difference if it's going to be a tweet."

For more information on upcoming Guest Speakers, please visit the Academy's Upcoming Events page.

These guests are not faculty and do not teach at NYFA, but they have appeared to share their stories and experience with our students. As guest speakers are scheduled based on their availability, NYFA cannot guarantee whether a guest speaker will visit during a student’s attendance or who that guest speaker may be. This guest speaker forum is not part of any NYFA curriculum and attendance at guest speaker events is purely voluntary. Students should be aware that guest speaker events do not represent a job opportunity nor are they intended to provide industry connections.

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