Famous Australian Actors: What Aspiring Actors Can Learn From Them

Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Rose Byrne, Geoffrey Rush, and Russell Crowe are just a few names that come to mind when it comes to famous Australian actors. With no shortage of talented Australians in the entertainment world, these performers have created some of the most memorable characters in film.

Famous Australian Actors: What Aspiring Actors Can Learn From Them

Whether it’s a mythical God swinging a hammer or an unhinged wedding guest looking to date Vince Vaughn, Hollywood has a special place in it’s heart for actors from Australia. From Hugh Jackman to Margot Robbie, these performers have reached phenomenal levels of success, and there’s a lot that aspiring actors can learn from them.

We spoke to Anne Moore, the Interim Chair for NYFA’s Acting department in Los Angeles, as well as Lynda Goodfriend, Creative Director for the Acting department at NYFA Los Angeles, about the lessons that can be learned from some of the most famous Australian actors in the industry right now.

Chris Hemsworth

In 2009, Chris Hemsworth showed up on the silver screen to portray George Kirk in Star Trek, and in 2011 he bought the beloved Marvel character of Thor to life. Chris is also known for his roles in The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Ghostbusters, and Doctor Strange.

Chris Hemsworth, from Melbourne, as Thor, mourning his brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. 

Chris is a powerhouse of an actor and a natural leading man, but he fits nicely into an ensemble. As many Marvel fans saw in the Avengers movies, he plays well off his on-screen brother, Loki, in many memorable moments of chaos, mischief, and sibling rivalry. Anne says aspiring actors can learn from Hemsworth’s ability to work with a cast.

“Regardless if you are in an ensemble cast or not, you always have to be a team player. It takes a village to make a film. The more you collaborate and work with, and as an ensemble, the more one’s creativity is fostered,” she says.

“When actors collaborate as an ensemble, they can share ideas, have each other’s back, and work off of each other, ultimately creating a more powerful performance from each individual,” adds Lynda. “The ultimate result is a more exciting film and impactful story.”

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie got her big break when she brought the New Jersey princess Naomi Lapaglia to life in The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013. Previously, she was on the well-known Australian television show Neighbours as Donna Freedman. Since The Wolf of Wall Street, Margot has been in several high-profile leading roles, including Jane Clayton in The Legend of Tarzan, Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey, Tonya Harding in I, Tonya, as well as Sharon Tate in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Nellie LaRoy in Babylon.

In addition to her film roles, Robbie has also made a name for herself as a producer. Her production company, LuckyChap Entertainment, focuses on female films and includes titles such as the Academy Award-winning I, Tonya, and the Academy Award and BAFTA winner Promising Young Woman. The company has also produced television shows such as Maid (2021) and Dollface (2019).

Margot Robbie, originally from Dalby, is in the 2023 summer film, ‘Barbie.’

Robbie, who “isn’t thrilled” with being called a bombshell, says, “I don’t want to be reduced to the clichés that come with being called sexy or a blonde bombshell. I want to keep looking for roles where the main interest will be in the character itself; her importance in driving a story forward rather than her relationship with the male character.”

“I think creating your own production company allows for new voices to be heard and new stories to be told by artists that have been overlooked and/or marginalized,” says Anne. “I applaud women like Margot Robbie.”

Aspiring actors can also choose to follow in Margot’s footsteps by training in additional disciplines, such as filmmaking and producing.

Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman’s list of accomplishments and awards is nothing short of impressive. He can sing, dance, and act, and in the last few years, he has won People’s Choice, Tony, Satellite, Saturn, and a few other awards. But one of the most important roles to date is in 2022’s The Son, where he plays a father with a son who struggles with his mental health. Jackman’s own father passed during the filming of the movie, a tragedy that Hugh said changed him and, ultimately, in combination with the subject matter of the film, made him a better parent.

famous australian actorsHugh Jackman, who is from Sydney, in ‘The Son.’

Actors often use their personal experiences to connect to their characters. But like Jackman, actors can also learn from their characters, using their stories to impact their own lives.

“An actor always takes pieces of themselves when creating a character and often takes pieces of the character they play into themselves. We all share certain qualities of humanity – creativity, love, purpose,” says Lynda.

“When an actor plays a character with certain outstanding traits, those traits can be brought to the forefront of the actors’ consciousness and become a more important part of their behavior, giving them insights into unexplored areas of their own life.”

Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher, star of Godmothered and Confessions of a Shopaholic, stole our hearts as the crazy love interest of Vince Vaughan’s character in Wedding Crashers in 2005. She appeared opposite Zach Galifianakis in Keeping Up with the Jones – a movie about a suburban couple caught up in an international espionage plot, as well as Nocturnal Animals and The Brothers Grimsby. Her most recent role is in the Peacock tv series Wolf Like Me, where she plays a woman with a dark secret, opposite Josh Gad.

famous australian actorsBorn in Muscat, Oman, Isla Fisher was raised in Perth.

The character is different from what we’ve seen Fisher do. Unlike her more comedic parts, as the mysterious Mary, Fisher shows a much more vulnerable side. The switch-up in genre and style demonstrates her range as an actor, showing her audience and fans a new side to her.

According to Anne, aspiring actors can follow Fisher’s lead and experiment with different roles and character types to help build up their repertoire.

“Challenging yourself as an actor is essential as it forces you to look at yourself and ultimately humanity from a different perspective,” she says. “The beauty of being an actor is that it allows one to express themselves in ways they don’t get to in real life.”

Although the switch works for Fisher, Lynda offers this advice for newer actors: “The best time for an actor to experiment with different types of roles is when an actor is just developing in their career, and the audience has not pigeonholed them into any specific type.”

Enhance Your Audition and Acting Skills at NYFA

There’s a lot that actors can do with their natural talent. A lot of actors choose to take it a step further and invest in acting classes or even a degree in acting to help them polish their techniques. To learn more about the programs that NYFA offers, please visit our Acting School page. Students can also explore our diplomas at NYFA Australia, located on the Gold Coast.

The Role of the Intimacy Coordinator

Acting is a challenging profession. Amidst competing for roles, long rehearsal hours, and intensive dance routines, you might be surprised by what you see in the script once you finally secure an acting role. 

We’ve all watched contemporary television, films, and attended plays, so we’ve become desensitized to the idea that a “sex scene” involves two actors. While engaged in the movie or show, we might see two characters exchanging steamy dialogue and physical contact instead of two professionals at work. From our perspectives, the chemistry of the two actors is paramount to a believable romance scene. Unbeknownst to us, it takes much more to carry out such scenes than good acting.

NYFA’s very own Nedra Gallegos, an instructor at the Los Angeles campus, sat down with faculty and staff to review the role and responsibilities of the Intimacy Coordinator. Our faculty and staff, who have years of professional experience as actors, writers, directors, producers, artists, and screenwriters, know first-hand the importance of communication when building a team. 

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What is an Intimacy Coordinator?

As defined by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), an Intimacy Coordinator is “an advocate, a liaison between actors and production…in regard to nudity and simulated sex and other intimate and hyper-exposed scenes.” 

The fundamental functions of an Intimacy Coordinator involve their role as an advocate or liaison between the actors and production, ensuring performers and other production personnel adhere to safety protocols. It’s important to remember that while the Intimacy Coordinator might seem like a stuffy administrator, there only to stifle one’s creative vision for a project. The reality is they are the opposite. The role of an Intimacy Coordinator is not to suppress but to serve as an additional resource in realizing the director’s vision. 

In essence, the Intimacy Coordinator facilitates an environment in which actors understand what is expected of them in hyper-exposed scenes and ensures there is informed consent. After the appropriate setting is established, the actors have a structure in which to unleash their performance in a way that they know is safe and comfortable. 

When do you hire an Intimacy Coordinator? 

If your film or project includes any of the following, you will want to hire an Intimacy Coordinator: 

  • Scenes with simulated sex
  • Scenes involving simulated genital contact (above or below clothing)
  • Scenes with intense kissing
  • Scenes with simulated kissing
  • Specialized movement, suggested movement (i.e., burlesque/strip-tease/lap dancing/group sex)
  • Scenes involving sexual trauma 
  • Scenes depicting power dynamics or pre-existing relationships within the company that necessitate an outside eye
  • If the director is not confident in handling a scene appropriately or navigating the actors in physical and emotional moments

The above is a sample of scenarios in which an Intimacy Coordinator is advisable. If your project or creative work includes scenes of sexual intimacy, violence, or scenes in which actors might be placed in uncomfortable moments for their character’s development, it is advisable to hire a licensed Intimacy Coordinator. 

“The narrative may be fictional, but the contact is real.”
– Nedra Gallegos, NYFA LA Instructor

Codify It!

A good Intimacy Coordinator will use various vocabulary, best practices, and techniques to stage intimacy, nudity, and sexual violence. As we said before, these techniques aim not to desexualize a story but achieve the director’s vision in a way that is ethical, efficient, effective, and understood by all. 

After the #metoo movement, many organizations, film studios, television networks, and theatrical playhouses took time to ensure they harbored safe environments for their employees. The importance of consent and facilitating a safe work environment across the entertainment industry has never been more pronounced or appreciated than today. 

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The Old Approach is no Longer Effective.

Even with the best intentions, directors can fall short of keeping the communication lines between actors open during rehearsals. Below is an example scenario that showcases the director’s “old school” methods of handling, followed by reasons why they are problematic.  

Scenario: Script and direction call for actors to “Just kiss each other.”

Old Approach #1: Talk it through, ask the actors what they think the characters would do with each other, and have them try it. 

  • Problem: This method narrows the emotional distance between the actor and character, making it less fictional and more natural–which is uncomfortable.

Old Approach #2: Send the actors to another room to act out the intimacy scene on their own. 

  • Problem: Actors, of course, want to please, be bold and take risks. This scenario could result in one or both actors feeling uncomfortable.

Old Approach #3: Show, don’t tell. 

  • Problem: The director is the power in the room, and actors are reticent to say no or vocalize their discomfort. As many actors know, many sets harbor a culture that implies “if you don’t do this, someone else will.” This culture suggests an actor is replaceable, leading to even more pressure for them to perform a scene in which they are uncomfortable. 

The Casting Notice, Audition Disclosure Form, and Rider

Before the Intimacy Coordinator is brought onto the set, they first meet with the executive producer, writer, and director to discuss details of the script and intimate scenes involved. This conversation between a Coordinator and producer should include the degrees of nudity, specifics of simulated sex, and other important information a Coordinator needs to know about a scene.

The best way a director and producer can ensure they establish a role requires to clearly outline the expectations for what their project includes. 

Below are examples that directors, producers, and staff can reference when outlining recruiting talent for their projects. Theatrical Intimacy Education provides an example casting notice, audition disclosure form, and rider that outlines what an actor is expected to do, a request for the actor’s consent, and questions to help an actor understand what they can expect should they accept a role. 

How do I Find an Intimacy Coordinator? 

Suppose you’re interested in finding an Intimacy Coordinator or intimacy professional for your project. In that case, you can check out the variety of Facebook groups dedicated to connecting creatives with professionals. The I Need an Intimacy Professional (Facebook Group) is one such group. 

Are you interested in becoming certified as an Intimacy Coordinator? You can go to Intimacy Directors & Coordinators for workshops and opportunities. Theatrical Intimacy Education also offers invaluable resources for those interested in learning more. They also offer certification in youth mental health first aid. 

Don’t be afraid to incorporate all aspects of life into your project. Keep in mind the many facets of a healthy and consent-driven creative environment so that all actors, staff members, administrators, and spectators are safe and comfortable.

Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy & Predictions for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

A film that was initially announced back in May 2021, it is almost surreal that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is almost here. A lot has happened in that time, including the reveal of who the big bad will be. Let’s dig into the nitty-gritty of what’s current with this much-anticipated movie and how it will honor the late Chadwick Boseman’s legacy as T’Challa.

The Latest from The MCU

The final film of the MCU’s phase four just got a lot bigger. 

What antagonist does Marvel have Wakanda up to bat against? If you’ve been keeping up with the trailers, your eyes do not deceive you, that is indeed Namor the Sub-Mariner. Namor is an important entry into the MCU’s rogues gallery with good reason. Should they follow through with certain aspects of his origin, Namor will be the next confirmed Mutant in Marvel’s growing universe. Not to mention that the nation he rules (typically Atlantis) is one of few that could match Wakanda adversarially.

Namor and Black Panther, image via Looper

As a matter of fact, in the comics, Wakanda’s rivalry with Atlantis is pretty legendary. Both are isolated nations associated with superior militaristic and technological feats compared to the rest of the world. Historically, both countries also have valid fears regarding revealing themselves and/or interacting with the greater global community.   The film also marks Rihanna’s return to the music scene. In the biggest splash one could make, Rihanna not only came back with the single “Lift Me Up,” but said single is also part of Wakanda Forever’s soundtrack.

So what do Producer Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team have in store with Wakanda Forever?

Wakanda Forever: Predictions

What will make the clash between these national superpowers so intense is how similar yet strikingly different they are in comparison to one another. Where the MCU is concerned, in Black Panther (2018), Wakanda already took the first step in trying to move forwards instead of back. In lieu of continuing to hide from the world (and thereby its problems, too), the nation and its leadership decided to leave fear behind and make a proud, powerful entrance onto the world stage. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if, creatively, they decided to use Talokan (the MCUs Atlantis, the nation’s new name and look inspired by Aztec culture) to show what Wakanda would have looked like had it decided to stay the course as an isolated nation. 

All in all, depending on how events play out and what kind of story the writers decide to tell, three things can occur. Wakanda prevailed over Talokan’s attempts to besiege them, establishing the latter as an actively threatening force. The second is where both nations are on such an equal footing that they’re ultimately left locked in an uneasy stalemate. Or the third, an outcome which is unlikely but still entirely possible, the Talokanil successfully defeat the Wakandans since their own technology is able to rival them.

The only difference, in that case, would be that the Talokanil would be more tenacious in their efforts to secure victory, possibly resorting to methods the Wakandans wouldn’t be eager to take up. In all possible scenarios, I imagine that whatever the outcome of the conflict might be, it will heavily center around both presenting a challenge while also honoring the legacy of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther.

Honoring Chadwick Boseman’s Legacy

Speaking of which, we should discuss said legacy. One of the biggest reasons why we have Wakanda as we see it today is due greatly in part to the late Chadwick Boseman’s stellar performance as the Black Panther. In tandem with the character’s truly illuminative arc throughout the movies of Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and even Marvel’s What If? animated series, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther became a movement of its own. 

In Civil War, we are introduced to T’Challa when he was a prince. In the wake of King T’Chaka’s violent death at the hands of Helmut Zemo, it was clear then how powerfully devoted the character was to seeking justice. But where did justice end and vengeance begin? Where this fine line rested was what the young prince began to explore, something people still to this day still struggle with to varying degrees and levels. Captain America: Civil War is arguably where people began to see themselves in T’Challa; it is where the movement begins.

chadwickbosemanlegacyChadwick Boseman as T’Challa, image via Syfy

By the time we see the character again in Black Panther (2018), the groundwork we saw laid out in Civil War is fleshed out and expounded upon. T’Challa’s journey evolves in a way that transcends the silver screen, transcends even the MCU itself. The prince not only had to grapple with becoming the king of one of the most powerful countries in the world but also had to reconcile with the shortcomings of his own family, embodied in his father’s decision to do quite knowingly disservice and leave behind his nephew, T’Challa’s cousin Erik Stevens (alternatively known as N’Jadaka or Killmonger).

By the movie’s end, Black Panther comes to represent many things. While celebrating black excellence within the film and without, the Black Panther embodies leadership, honor, courage in the face of the unknown, and above all, an inspiring sense of humility. As the king of Wakanda, he didn’t use his power to throw his weight around or force the world to bend to his will. That wasn’t the kind of leader Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa was, although it was certainly within his power to have access to Wakanda’s indescribably vast resources. Instead, he chose to use his influence to better the world around him, opting to let the world in to promote growth on the global, communal, and interpersonal levels. 

Nakia and Shuri in Black Panther (2018)

These qualities T’Challa personified would likewise become synonymous with Wakanda ideologically and expressively. One of the best examples to date was T’Challa’s ability to work with and eventually become close allies with M’Baku. Even amongst Wakandans, the Jabari was regarded as a tribe that no one would ever be able to work with because of centuries of bad blood. But when you’re someone who treats other people with dignity and respect, regardless of class, prior history, or belief, those barriers become easily scaleable obstacles. T’Challa’s outlook and demeanor were a testament to the healing power of kindness and understanding, something all leaders around the world could take a page from. 

Wakanda would further express these qualities when they answered the call to rebuff Thanos and the seemingly endless legions of space-traveling warriors at his disposal. While the Wakandans considered their own safety, they also did well to consider the safety of the greater world at large. Although the following onslaught could well have meant the end of the great nation, they courageously faced their foe head-on. I’ll even do you one better than that. Imagine having experienced firsthand the Mad Titan’s ferocity, soaking in that defeat for five long years, only to face that very same threat with the same vigor and strength of will in Avengers: Endgame? Yet again, Wakanda endeavors to serve as a beacon of the very best that we can be as human beings. 

Takeaways from the Black Panther Films

Although briefly, Marvel’s What If? also lends towards the brilliance of T’Challa’s legacy. In a universe parallel to the MCU we know, he was the only one who could convince Thanos not to wipe out half the universe in order to better it. Not by force and not by any means necessary either, but simply through the exchange of thoughts and ideas. Mere words. That right there is Chadwick Boseman’s legacy.

It isn’t just bringing a fictional character to life or being relatable enough to vibe with. Chadwick Boseman’s influence goes above and beyond performance. His work opened the door to one of the most thoughtful and inclusive films in cinema.

chadwickbosemanlegacyThe character of T’Challa, voiced by Chadwick Boseman, in “What If” (2021)

 The message his character and the characters around him share is one that impresses upon us a sense of active purpose. A calling that seeks to embolden us as individuals to challenge the divisions that threaten to fracture society at large. His legacy is for us to persevere. To lead with compassion, even though it might be hard or even if it isn’t what everyone else is doing.

To make it short and sweet, he’d want us to be good to each other. Not just for our own sake but for our neighbor’s sake too. That being said, I have faith that Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will do more than live up to Chadwick Boseman’s legacy, one need only reference the record as we have it.


8 Scary Movie Scenes & Performances That Will Leave You Unsettled

For some people, the fall season means sweater-wearing weather, pumpkin carving, hayrides, and snuggling under the covers in the morning. For other people, autumn means haunted houses, creating spooky Halloween costumes, and binge-watching horror movie classics. When it comes to horror films, some stand out not only for their ability to terrify their audience but because of the scary movie scenes and performances that leave you sleeping with the lights on.

Scary Movie Scenes & Performances: Our 8 Favorites

An on-screen performance can either make or break a movie—and horror movies are no different. Here are some scary movie scenes and actors with performances that left us shaking to the bones. 


Toni Collette in Hereditary

In 2018, Ari Aster made his feature directorial debut with the bone-chilling, toe-curling nightmare, Hereditary. The film itself will rattle audience members to their core, but actress Toni Collette tackles the role of Annie, an artist turned wife turned mother, without missing a beat and takes her fictional character’s inner life beyond the lines of storytelling. Collette’s Annie is not just a victim in the film–she’s the soul of it, too, and possibly even its devil–she is pure terror. In one scary scene, Collette, possessed, famously crawls across the ceiling. The physical motions are incredibly creepy, which can really make a scene scary. In the first horror movie, for example, a small figure appears on screen and hops around before suddenly vanishing. While simple, the eerie motions are effective.

The film also has scenes that are scary on a psychological level. There is one scene in the movie when Annie tells her son, “I never wanted to be your mother.” At that moment, past the heartbreaking cruelty and honesty, Annie slaps her hand to her mouth just a second too late in the realization that what she said can never be taken back. The words she uttered aren’t just sadistic; it’s sadistic because there is a semblance of truth that is spoken. Collette successfully portrayed the amalgam of backbreaking roles in Hereditary while struggling to deal with traumas left behind by her recently deceased mother. The way that Collette portrays panic and grief in such a visceral way won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween

More than forty years ago, executive producer Irwin Yablans asked director John Carpenter to make a low-budget movie about babysitters getting murdered. Carpenter told The New York Times in 2018, “It was a horrible idea. But I wanted to make more movies, so I said, ‘Great!’” One of the greatest slasher villains of all time, Michael Myers, was born. 

Halloween helped launch a career for actress Jamie Lee Curtis, daughter of Janet Leigh, the aforementioned star of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Curtis’s teen protagonist Laurie Strode was meant to be an innocent, repressed teenage girl who is quick on her feet. Her inner strength comes out as she’s forced to go toe-to-toe with an unstoppable killing machine, and Curtis made the role her own by the end of the first film. Since then, Halloween has spawned several sequels, remakes, and reboots, and Curtis has gone on to reprise the role of Laurie Strode in several subsequent films in the franchise: Halloween II, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Halloween: Resurrection, the 2018 Halloween, and its sequel, 2020’s Halloween Kills.

The films have some of the best scary movie scenes, from Michael Myer’s slow and creepy walking to various jump scares. But in one of the scariest scenes, the finale of the first Halloween film, Jamie Lee Curtis cries as Michael reveals his victims, one by one, then appears from the shadows.

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

Oscar-winning actor Jack Nicholson gives one of the most famous horror movie performances of all time in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining, with multiple iconic scenes including Nicholson smashing through a door with an axe and screaming, “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny!”

Nicholson is not only an actor, he’s written and directed as well and had the opportunity to write an entire scene for The Shining. He recalls being berated by his wife when he would be at home writing, telling The New York Times, “That’s what I was like when I got my divorce. I was under the pressure of being a family man with a daughter, and one day I accepted a job to act in a movie in the daytime I was writing a movie at night, and I’m back in my little corner, and my beloved wife Sandra walked in on what was unbeknownst to her, this maniac—and I told Stanley about it, and we wrote it into the scene.”

Pulling from his own personal experiences at home, Nicholson was able to ground his growing supernatural insanity with the foundation of everyday pressures–talk about great acting!

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

Lupita Nyong’o in Us

12 Years a Slave and Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o gives a chilling performance in Jordan Peele’s Us, his followup to Oscar winner Get Out. Nyong’o portrays both Adelaide Wilson, a mother with an unclear past, and Red, Adelaide’s evil doppelgänger. Early in the film, the audience is introduced to Red and her family, who are clad in red jumpsuits and eerily resemble each member of Adelaide’s family. The doppelgängers are there to exact vengeance on the Wilson family, but Peele doesn’t let the audience know why until near the end. The most chilling part of Nyong’o’s performance as Red was her voice. To make her doppelgänger stand out, she created a memorable voice. In a particularly scary scene in Us, Red tells Adelaide her story, which wouldn’t be too scary if she didn’t have the raspy, menacing voice narrating the tale.

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

Many little girls growing take dance lessons or even dream of being a famous ballerina. In Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, Natalie Portman portrays Nina, a young ballet dancer with a driving ambition so disturbing it makes the audience uncomfortable. Nina is a perfectionist willing to push herself over the edge for the sake of her art. In order to bring the prima donna to life, Portman spent hours a day training with the world’s best dancers, coaches, and teachers. Portman’s performance as the dancer who falls into madness is so convincing that it’s hard to remember that it’s just fiction.

While Portman may not be able to completely relate to the dancer’s obsessive ambition, there is one thing Portman shares with Nina–Portman told Vanity Fair in 2011 that there is a connection between the actress and her character: “The quest for perfection and the need of an artist to sort of please yourself and find your own way, not to be just trying to please other people.” 

In her quest to have the perfect performance in Swan Lake, Nina begins to pick and claw at her own skin. These moments don’t have the same oompf as a jump scare but are disturbing and uncomfortable to watch.

Sissy Spacek in Carrie

A lot of people don’t recall their high school days quite as fondly as others may. Brian de Palma’s Carrie, released in 1976, plays on that teenage angst to an extreme degree in this Stephen King adaptation about a young abused girl who possesses very strange and terrifying powers. Actress Sissy Spacek portrays Carrie, and Piper Laurie portrays Carrie’s religious fanatic mother. 

At 27 years old, Spacek received an Oscar nomination for the role of Carrie. The audience can feel Carrie’s desperation and insecurity in every scene throughout the movie. Spacek was able to show the audience what everyone feels at some point in their life–feeling like an outsider and not being able to fit in. As a teenager, it can be very traumatizing not to fit in. Spacek was able to successfully deliver a frightening performance of a variety of emotions, including a great deal of frustration and fear. By the time of her–and the film’s–violent climax, the audience can see exactly how and why Carrie has been pushed to such a point. It’s one of the most iconic scary movie scenes of all time.

scary movie scenes

Anthony Hopkins in
Silence of the Lambs

Anthony Hopkins was only on screen for 16 minutes as convicted serial killer Hannibal Lecter in the 1991 classic Silence of the Lambs, but his performance was so memorable and superb in that brief amount of time that Hopkins ended up winning an Academy Award for Best Actor. In one of the most unsettling scary movie scenes to date, Lecter speaks to Senator Martin through the infamous hockey mask, complimenting her suit. It’s one of many terrifying performances in the film.

Additionally, throughout the movie, the audience is fed bits of information that helps heightens Hopkins’ on-screen performance and make Lecter more grounded as a character, even when he’s not on screen. To the audience, Lecter is a villain yet not the villain–a mentor, maybe even a friend to the protagonist FBI agent played by Jodie Foster, but an opponent to her as well. The ability to portray a complex and technical character demonstrates why Hopkins was worthy of an Oscar for this role. It’s worth noting that Foster received an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the film as well.

Anthony Perkins in Psycho

A good horror or thriller doesn’t need to depend on violence, gore, or the supernatural to make it successful–or scary. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, featuring Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins, is a testament to that fact. In an interview with The Record in November 1990, Perkins, who portrayed the titular killer Norman Bates, said, “There’s no place to hide in Psycho.”

Perkins made his fame by playing the deranged motel owner and went on to play Bates in several sequels. As a product of being a tormented child in Hollywood, Perkins was able to take his experience and pour it into his acting career–especially in roles where he needed to portray the darker side of nature. He played the role of the tense and repressed man well because he drew from personal experiences. Despite being soft-spoken and eerily calm for most of the movie, Perkins made Norman Bates one of the most famous and frightening horror movie monsters of all time. In all of the scenes on this list, the Psycho shower scene definitely tops as one of the best scary movie scenes of all time.

Making and Starring in Scary Movies

Whether you’re new to the art of filmmaking or looking to improve your acting chops, one of the best things you can do is watch horror films. By studying memorable scene work and performances,  you can practice your own techniques and tap into your own terror.

How to Get Started in Virtual Reality Development

Many of us are familiar with virtual reality development. Through simulation games like Second Life, users can choose and customize an avatar. Avatars can visit virtual environments and go on dates, explore new landscapes, solve mysteries and even get married. Virtual reality has come a far way, and there are a vast number of opportunities to explore.

Virtual Reality Development: Getting Started

Virtual reality involves interacting with a simulated environment. Users mostly use a virtual reality headset or HMD. Virtual reality development, which requires a particular skill set and lots of patience, is the field of creating virtual environments. These skills can be used for film, media, television, entertainment, and video games. VR is also used for business, education, healthcare, and much more. When it comes to building up skills in virtual reality development, there are a few ways to get started.

1. Build a Strong Foundation

To get started in virtual reality, it’s important to engage with apps or games. Students can also study virtual reality development projects and what makes them successful. Through practical training, students can develop fluency in product design, video game design, 3D modeling, animation, and design theory. For programming, it helps to know C#.

In other words, for virtual reality development, it’s essential to become familiar with the technologies supporting VR. NYFA’s virtual reality workshops are an excellent way for students to develop an understanding of the technology. By studying VR at a film school, students learn how to tell compelling virtual stories within this burgeoning field.

2. Choose a Particular Platform and Master It

There are plenty of platforms for students to experiment with VR. Unity is one of the most significant platforms, and students don’t need the VR hardware to start creating games. It is also freely available.

Another engine is Unreal. Start with Mobile VR and make a prototype using Google Cardboard and a Cardboard Viewer. WebVR is another entry point for VR developers. Many media companies and forecasters are betting that a 3D, immersive internet is on the horizon. As VR devices get more accessible and affordable, content developed for the 3D web will likely become the universal use of VR.

3. Make The Best Use of Free Resources

Unity comes with its own virtual reality tutorials, and there are plenty of online virtual reality courses. Once the prototype is ready, add appropriate sound and art to make the experience as immersive as possible. It’s also helpful to know how gyro and accelerometer sensors in mobile phones work, as well as image processing and speech recognition.

4. Stay Up-To-Date With New VR Developments

Virtual reality is a constantly evolving field, and the more students can explore it, the more experience they can build up. To pursue creative goals in virtual reality, it’s important to stay up to speed on the industry.


Subscribe to virtual reality podcasts, read interesting virtual reality articles about the subject, and follow the latest news. Remember that the VR industry is still at an early stage, so there will always be newer things to learn. 

Interested in virtual reality? Learn more about taking virtual reality workshops at NYFA.

Scarlett Johansson v. Disney: Why Scarjo is Suing Disney Over Black Widow

Over the course of these past few days, Scarlett Johansson has locked horns with Disney in a legal dispute. Johansson claims that Disney breached her contract upon the release of Black Widow in both theaters and on their platform Disney +. The actress’ pursuit has prompted other Disney actresses (Cruella’s Emma Stone and Jungle Cruise’s Emily Blunt) to begin assessing their options as well. Why is this such big news though, and why should we care? Join us as we break down this legal dispute and delve into the greater discussion at hand.

Why is Scarlett Johansson suing Disney?

Covid-19 is responsible for a lot of setbacks in the film industry these days, as well as why movies are being released the way they are. Since the need to social distance made theatrical releases difficult, some companies (like Disney) have decided to release their movies on the streaming services they own. The issue between Scarlett Johansson and Disney lies here, with the way the film is initially distributed to viewers. Per Variety’s coverage of the matter, Johansson’s contract read that Black Widow would be guaranteed “a ‘wide theatrical release’…meaning [that] the film would be shown on at least 1,500 screens” (Variety, July 30th, 2021A). Now that snippet there implies that the movie was supposed to be shown on at least 1,500 movie theater screens, which does not technically include the vast multitude of screens that streaming platforms have access to. Additionally, Johansson’s legal team argues that the understanding was that Black Widow’s theatrical release was supposed to be exclusive, which would have implied that the movie would not hit other platforms until after 90 to 120 days have elapsed (Variety 2021A). Variety also cites that the actress’ team has on hand an email from Marvel Chief Counsel Dave Galluzzi, which appears to support the idea surrounding the theatrical exclusivity the film was supposed to receive. Galluzzi’s email also reads that any deviation from the original agreement would reopen the floor to discussion as Johansson’s deal is “‘based on a series of (very large) box office bonuses.’” (Variety, 2021A). 


Black Widow Movie Scene on Motorcycle

Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh in a scene from “Black Widow”

To wrap it up in a bow, Disney was supposed to renegotiate Scarlett Johansson’s contract with her so that she could be properly compensated for having her movie released on Disney +, which was not originally part of the deal to begin with. Paired with the notion that the Covid-19 crisis is still ongoing with the advent of the Delta Variant, theaters still aren’t hosting audiences at their fullest capacity, despite being open. This in short means that Scarlett Johansson’s payout would not be as generous as it ought to be, as the Galluzzi email mentions her deal is predominantly focused on box office bonuses. Johansson’s team estimates that Disney’s move “cost the actress $50 million in backend compensation” (Variety, 2021A). Granted, Scarlett Johansson did make $20 million from her part in Black Widow, but the problem is more intricate than that. The problem is how Disney has responded to the actress’ dissatisfaction. For a more detailed breakdown of Scarlett Johansson’s side of things, Variety’s article has much more information to offer.

What is Disney doing?

In response to Scarlett Johansson filing the lawsuit against them, the Walt Disney Company issued a statement that read, “‘There is no merit whatsoever to this filing…The lawsuit is especially sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.’” (Variety, July 29th, 2021B) Disney is also credited with providing how much they have already paid out to Johansson (which was the aforementioned $20 million). It is also worth noting that, at the time the article was written, Disney had not yet provided any information regarding a renegotiation of any kind regarding their deal with the Black Widow star (Variety, 2021B). For a more detailed and in-depth description, here’s Variety’s coverage of Disney’s response.

The main takeaway from Disney’s response is that they aren’t having it. According to the first article cited from Variety, the corporation appears to believe that it has done Johansson no wrong. In fact, Disney claims that they have upheld their end of the contract in terms of Black Widow getting a wide theatrical release. They seem to be making the semantic argument, saying that the fine print doesn’t necessitate an exclusive release in theaters alone (Variety, 2021A). 

The case that’s building between Scarlett Johansson and Disney is looking like it could be greatly influential in more ways than one. Not just because everything isn’t as picture perfect as we thought in the realm of Disney, no. The outcome of this legal affair could determine how women negotiate wages in the film industry going forward. Even though she is a pretty wealthy actress, Johansson still deserves to be paid in full for the work she put into Black Widow. One can argue that her situation is symptomatic of a larger, more widespread issue. Even an actress of Johansson’s caliber appears to be finding herself a victim of the wage gap between actors and actresses in the film industry.

The Track Record for Equal Women’s Compensation

For some time, the New York Film Academy (NYFA) has taken the opportunity to track gender inequality within the film industry. Here are some metrics that are relevant to Scarlett Johansson’s case. To put things in perspective, $20 million may seem like a lot to those of us who make substantially less. However, we would like to implore you to consider this upcoming metric for a moment.

NYFA Pay Inequality Infographic

(Source: NYFA Gender Inequality Infographic page.)

As you can see in the chart above, there are male actors who have been paid a great deal more than $20 million. The wage difference between male and female actors in the film industry is quite stark. This is just from the year 2017 too. Notice that only 3 actresses barely came close to the $30 million mark in that year alone. It isn’t like Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Anniston aren’t A-List movie stars, they are in fact A-List movie stars. Seeing such dramatic differences begs the question, why does it exist in the first place? The quality of their acting is on par with the other actors listed in this graphic, and yet they are paid less for that self same quality their peers exhibit. Purposeful or not, it is an observable trend in the movie industry, one that needs to be rectified. In the year 2018 during the 90th Academy Awards, of the 19 categories that were not acting-related, 131 men were nominated whereas 40 women nominated. To top it all off, in all the history of the Academy Awards, out of the women nominated only two have won the award they were nominated for (Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 and Chloé Zhao in 2021 won Best Director). Based on the legwork the NYFA has done to track these developments, it’s fair to say that there is a notable degree of both gender bias and gender inequality in the film industry, and the scales are not tipped in women’s favor. For more detailed information on Gender Inequality in the Film Industry, please visit our website.

With these thoughts in mind, perhaps now we can better appreciate Scarlett Johansson’s struggle to attain what she is owed from Disney. As of this moment, she fits the terribly unbalanced metric displayed above. As the star of her own movie, Johansson should receive much more for the work she has done for them, plain and simple. Which is why her dispute with Disney is so momentous. Her success or failure in this matter will undoubtedly set a standard for actresses going forward. It already has for a couple of other actresses who’ve done work for Disney recently, but in the long term, the results of this dispute could affect how actresses who aren’t as soundly secure in their reputation negotiate what they earn in the future. 

Cruella: Reinventing the Femme Fatale

Cruella de Vil, a character most widely known from the One Hundred and One Dalmatians animated film, is slated to be next on the docket of Disney’s list of stories retold – the film Cruella is slated to hit the big screen May 28, 2021. Although not strictly a retelling of the Disney film, it is set to explore the origin story of the villain, with Emma Stone portraying Cruella. That is the question though, isn’t it? Just who is Cruella? Why is it important that her story be told? The answer, as we will soon discover, lies in the archetype Cruella de Vil is a member of. One that, arguably, deserves some more fresh takes, this archetype being the femme fatale.

The Origins of the Archetype

Before we begin discussing how the femme fatale is being reinvented and why, it couldn’t hurt to unravel and better understand what a femme fatale is. As far as cinema is concerned, the FilmSchoolRejects observe that the archetype comes from film noirs around the time of the 1940s and 1950s. They go on to recognize the complexity of the femme fatale by attesting to their emotional realism. That what makes them such compelling characters is that they are willing to meet whatever ends they deem necessary to achieve their ambitions, but at the same time, contend with feelings and motivations that prove counter to those self same ambitions. In a way, they are somewhat contradictory in an oppositional sense. The way they are portrayed, they often have to compromise their comfort zone in order to reach their desired state of comfort and security. It is a layer of characterization that grounds them, making femme fatales feel very authentic and human despite being fictional in nature. 

Who is Cruella?

Like a good deal of the animated Disney films, One Hundred and One Dalmatians is not a property that is purely Disney’s. It is an adaptation of a book written in 1956 called “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” by Dodie Smith, from whom Walt Disney bought the rights to (Newsweek, 2021). What’s more, the book also provides greater insights into Cruella’s character, which hopefully the upcoming movie does well to lean into. For one, to show how extreme and over the top Cruella could be, the book notes that she “was expelled from primary school for drinking ink” (Newsweek, 2021). Now you might be wondering, “well why would a detail like that be important to include in the upcoming movie?” Unsettling as it sounds, it could be framed to show that she was always an outlier or a rebel of sorts. It could demonstrate just how far Cruella is willing to go to do what she wants to, or to underscore how comfortable she is being a deviant (despite the criticisms she might face). Such an act could in a way be likened to skinning dogs for their pelts, which is something she is certainly willing to do to create her perfect fur coat by the time the events of One Hundred and One Dalmatians takes place. Especially since both acts can be considered pretty taboo. Expanding on details like these would go a long way towards helping viewers that haven’t read the book, or viewers who just want to know more in general, what makes Cruella de Vil tick and how she developed to become the villain we know. 

Cruella Close up with writing

Why is this Reinvention Important?

So far, we’ve laid out how the femme fatale operates and how Cruella fits within that archetype. This now brings us to the crux of this discussion. Quite interestingly, an article by CinemaBlend offers a thought-provoking perspective on the upcoming film concerning Cruella. The article posits that Cruella is not necessarily a character that can be easily rehabilitated, as her endgame is perceived as being too vile. In a sense, this is not necessarily an untrue statement to make, but this is why reinventing the femme fatale is so important in this day and age. The femme fatale as an archetype has evolved in way that doesn’t just reinforce the male gaze. One can argue that it can now work towards celebrating women’s power as well as providing a platform to speak out against some of the injustices they are faced with. By telling the story of Cruella’s descent into villainy, the story can inform its viewers of a couple of key concepts. For one, understanding where Cruella de Vil comes from as a character can reinforce the idea that being “evil” has more than one dimension to it. Seeing Cruella’s side of the story allows us as viewers to contemplate what allows evil to fester. Is it the way we treat people? How to what extent do our societal norms play into this process? Questions like these are what viewers should have in mind when engaging with the story the film has to tell. 

Albeit it will be twisted in a sense, Cruella’s turn to villainy could also represent a reclamation of her own personal power. Like we mentioned before, femme fatales are often faced with decisions that cause them to leave their comfort zone in order to attain the security they desire. What if turning into the brash and heinous character we know Cruella to be is the only way for her to enjoy the successes she strives to attain? This is why exploring the kinds of obstacles she faces before the events of One Hundred and One Dalmatians is so important. In addition, not only would Cruella’s character have a chance at rehabilitation, but the femme fatale as an archetype too. By making this movie, the femme fatale could do more than being a fear-inducing character that people are expected to root against. Instead, the archetype could be used to inform viewers of the challenges women face, and show that it is not impossible to overcome these challenges. Cruella releases in theaters on May 28th, 2021.

Interested in developing your acting skills? Visit our Acting for Film School page to learn more about our  acting for film programs which are taught by actors, writers, directors, and producers from film and television. 

Q&A With Acting For Film Alum Z Tozum on What Motivates Her as an Actress & Staying Positive

From switching careers and hopping into the world of acting Zeynep (“Z”) Tozum, found a new world where she realized she fit in and belonged. After years in a different profession, the Acting for Film alum decided it was time for a change and to pursue her love of cinema and explore the performing arts.

New York Film Academy caught of the Acting Conservatory alum to discuss her plans post-graduation, staying creative during a worldwide pandemic, and her latest project Zoomin’. 

New York Film Academy (NYFA):  For so many people, switching careers is such a tough decision. What made you knew you could do it/want to leave and pursue acting?

Z Tozum (ZT): Honestly, I didn’t know if I could actually do it at first. I knew I was a curious/restless learner and was finding myself in a season of feeling stagnant,  a familiar place similar to the one I was in 12 years ago when I embarked on a different professional transition; I felt the urge to move into another area. This time though, it was more of a conscious decision to leave my all too comfortable profession and learn a completely new set of skills.

To start off, I knew I wanted to do something around Cinema. Watching movies has been like breathing to me since the age of 10 when my dad instilled in me the love of the movies. While considering studying, I realized that unless I understood what acting was all about; studying filmmaking or screenwriting wouldn’t really make sense to me. And yet, I hadn’t even worn a tutu as a child, nor ever walked on stage with the exception of my earlier career as an executive. So I decided to give it a chance and took some classes in Portland, Oregon, where I fell in love with acting. 

The following year, I set my eyes on NYFA, put my business on hold and took the 8-Week Acting For Film program to explore whether or not I could do it. After graduation, the fabulous Blanche Baker took me by the hand and set me up for an audition to apply for the 1-Year Conservatory Program. The rest is history! 

Why I love acting is a question I continually ponder and the answer changes every other week: these days, I believe acting makes me feel more alive. The moment I say that I realize in how many different ways, it actually has bewitched me. 

Photo courtesy of Zeynep “Z” Tozum

NYFA: What made you want to come to NYFA?

ZT: I was impressed that faculty was chosen from working artists and experts. I come from a corporate background, so I care a lot about practicing and learning from those experiments and failures. I sensed that the coursework would go beyond foundational theory and intellect around the matter and really teach through practice, and that grabbed me. Understanding that I am joining the game much later than my classmates, I needed to be as ready as I possibly could in order to launch myself into the work straight out of school.

NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming students?

ZT: I’d recommend putting aside what they already know, lean into their incompetence, and trust their teachers when they get challenging assignments no matter how uncomfortable they may feel. As students at NYFA, we had the luxury of having this huge safety net: our teachers. I often felt like a baby bird, unaware that I had wings and when asked to fly off the branch and couldn’t breathe, there was always an instructor to catch me if I fell (and I’ve learned how to fall too). How rare it must be to have a support system like this in the alleys of this profession!

Stay curious about themselves; praise will be plenty but stay hungry for stretching feedback too. Lastly, stop whining about the non-stop anxiety: when I stopped, accepting that it’s part of the work, life got better

NYFA: What projects have you worked on?

ZT: As soon as I graduated from NYFA and got my OPT/work permit, I started auditioning. Barely four weeks into that process, COVID-19 hit us all. I had a year ahead of me to work as an actor, to get some commercial credits for a longer-term artist visa, and boom! That movie had ended so abruptly.  

Then I took a deep breath in and created my own project: a mini web series with a group of very talented people, called Zooming In,  which went live on YouTube in November 2020.

Screenshot from Zooming In Episode 4- “If You Can Even Call It That”

NYFA: Can you tell us more about your new series Zooming In that you created? Where did you get the idea and how did it come to be?

ZT: After a few weeks of mental and emotional stress, I decided that I needed to create my own project in order to keep my sanity intact and to keep working on my craft despite the industry’s complete shut-down. I had been thinking a lot about how social lives had been reduced to the size of a phone or computer screen and how that must be affecting people in many facets given their psychological make-up, experiences, habits, and will to survive. One evening, I found myself imagining the life of a working woman, living by herself and struggling on all fronts of life. I wrote a synopsis and the first episode for a mini web-series idea. 

I  sent it to Jenna Mate, my teacher from NYFA and a theatre director. She liked the idea and very generously offered to direct it (all on Zoom of course). Honestly though, I don’t know that I could ever do this project if it wasn’t for Jenna’s encouragement and ability to refine the idea,  get writers to write the remaining episodes, and enroll other actors.  Her work with us on this project was crucial.  I realize now that if there is hope and will, there is always a way. Then there is the element of luck too, but luck is not enough on its own either; it’s really choosing NYFA as my drama school, the way they set us up for challenges, and Jenna Mate’s big heart and professional expertise that made it all come together.  

Zeynep “Z” Tozum

NYFA: It’s been a tough time for the film and entertainment industry, how have you stayed positive?

ZT: Accepting the circumstances (no jobs; threatened health; isolation), staying sharp with what I wanted (to act), creating options to practice (continuing training in specific areas of the craft), and ferociously reading and watching performances…all these helped me preserve my mental and emotional sanity. While writing these words, I am realizing how similar it is to the process of acting: know your circumstances, know your objective, go and get it in any way you can.  I am thinking that acting is all about living, and the reverse is equally true too. 

Lastly, the power of hope. That is why we called it “Project Hope.” All cast and crew members donated their time to bring this project to life. We hope this will create a wave of “hope” among performing artists who are facing trials/ hardship during these disturbing and challenging times. 

NYFA:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

ZT: Four months have passed since Zooming In went live and my mind is already set for doing a new/better/different project. That keeps me energized and growing and while the chaos of our days can be disturbing, I do believe we risk perishing in an excess of stability as well. Hence the beauty of welcoming change and acting on it!

I’d like to end with a moving quote from W. Saroyan (from the introduction to his play called Time of your Life):

“In the time of your life, live so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.”

New York Film Academy would like to thank Z Tozum for taking the time to share more about how she got her start in acting and her motivations for the craft.

Q&A With Alum Alfredo Tavares About What It’s Like to Work as an Actor in The Film Industry

Two years ago, Alfredo Tavares graduated from the 1-Year Acting for Film Conservatory program at NYFA’s Los Angeles campus. Since he graduated, chances are, you have likely seen the Acting alum appear in one of your favorite shows or films, with Tavares having over 90 credits as a professional actor. 

From Netflix’s Bridgerton and Hulu’s The Great to Academy Award-winning film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and the forthcoming Matt Reeves film, The Batman, Tavares is racking up incredible credits and remains booked and busy through 2021. 

During some downtime between filming, New York Film Academy had the opportunity to speak to Tavares about some of his upcoming projects, being a professional actor in Hollywood, what it was like to work with Quentin Tarantino.

Photo courtesy of Alfredo Tavares

New York Film Academy (NYFA): What made you decide to come to New York Film Academy?

Alfredo Tavares (AT): I wanted the best school in the world for acting because my dream since my childhood was to go to Hollywood after watching icons like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Jean-Claude Van Damme and having been trained in karate/ kickboxing as a black belt.

NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming students? What about international students coming to study at NYFA?

AT: Students should not hesitate to come and study at NYFA because it’s the best school with the most hands-on intensive programs in the world. The teachers are professionals and they take care of students when they don’t believe in their dreams and help them to get the energy and motivation necessary to achieve their goals. The class sizes are purposefully made to be smaller so teachers give you more attention and you have more time to express yourself. NYFA also helps you when you struggle to find a place to stay or need help with documentation or your payments. They work with you, listen, and are more than teachers – they feel like family! I was alone in the USA because I came from France, but when you study at NYFA you never feel alone. Some of my instructors and fellow classmates have become my best friends!

Tavares on screen for Hulu’s “The Great”

NYFA: You have some exciting titles across film and television. Can you share more about the projects you have worked on and which ones are your favorite?

AT: I’ve only been working as a professional actor and model in Hollywood for two years. After I graduated from NYFA, things went so fast and the next week I signed a contract for the TV series The Coroner, my first job as a professional actor in Hollywood. From there, I began working every day in different movies and TV series. After three weeks I joined SAGA-AFTRA. 

Tavares on “100 Humans”

Two years later, I have been working in big movies and Tv series as a lead actor (For The People, 100 Humans, Allo Portugal), as a featured actor (Venom, The Statistical Probability of Love at The First Sight, Temple), as a stunt-double-stand in (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Fast & Furious 9, Stellar Vortex, 355, The Nevers). A full list can be found here

My favorite project that I ever worked on and I will remember for my whole life was Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, produced and directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Al Pacino, Margot Robbie, and Dakota Fanning. Wow, it was just so exciting to work alongside these famous actors in the same movie. Tarantino donned no gold or watch, just sneakers, a t-shirt, and jeans, and was always smiling. He would sit and eat with the extras and talk with us, which is very rare for one of the most famous producers/directors in the world. 

Tarantino picked me out at the Central Casting Agency to replace Kurt Russell as a Double/Stand-In for Russell to rest and when we couldn’t see his face. Before I started shooting, Tarantino once said to me: ‘Alfredo, today I want you to be in a good mood. Tell me, what would you like to eat to give you energy?’ I exaggerated and told him ‘pizza, a Big Mac, and ice cream.’ He called his assistant and every day when I was filming she was going to buy that. 

Some of my other favorite projects include the TV series For The People with Vondie Curtis-Hall and Regé Jean-Page. He was my lawyer and I was a bad guy named “Carl French”; the Netflix TV series 100 Humans with 30 experiences, one of which was called the sperm dance; and Bridgerton with Regé-Jean Page (again) and Phoebe Dynevor. I was in some erotic scenes and scenes where I danced at the balls. I had lots of fun!

Tavares behind the scenes of “Shiddat” Photo courtesy of Alfredo Tavares)

NYFA: You’re currently working on Matt Reeves’ The Batman, one of the most anticipated films of 2022, can you share anything about your experience on set or the safety precautions in place? 

AT: We started filming in February 2020 some scenes in Central London and some at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, but one month later everything stopped because of the pandemic. Now, if everything goes well, the film should be released in March 2022. In The Batman, I’m a forensic going to investigate a murder of a man who was murdered in a living room. My character investigates everything inside the living room and finds some blood on the floor, which is very important…this scene was one of the most important that I filmed in the movie. In the next scenes, I still don’t know how those will pan out because of the current pandemic situation.

NYFA: What, as an actor, is the most important thing you have learned while on set?  

AT: Being at school versus being on set there is a huge difference. One teaches you and the other doesn’t have time to teach you. After you graduate and they book you to be in a movie or TV series, they consider you a professional actor. They don’t care if you just came from school. 

I remember when I went to audition for For The People, they gave me one page to memorize in 15 minutes. Then, with my lines in my mind, I went to see the casting director and I tried to use my imagination where I was in the scene with my character’s voice and body. Then I was on set with the other lead actors that I never met including the famous Vondie Curtis-Hall and Regé Jean-Page and I tried to imagine what was my character’s objective with the other actors just with my dialogues in mind. 

Sometimes they said ‘cut’ just to add one sentence to my dialogue and straight away…action. Crazy! It was one camera at an angle and just one rehearsal with two shoots. They [the production team] don’t have time to do ten takes in each angle. Time is money. They rented the location just for one day and the overtime is expensive especially for the main actors.

(Photo courtesy of Alfredo Tavares)

NYFA: You’ve got a lot going on. Do you have any upcoming projects coming up that you can share?

This year is the most important for projects. I’m going to be the lead actor in Subwater and Our Last Prayer that I have signed an NDA for. 

New York Film Academy would like to thank Alfredo Tavares for taking the time to speak on his experience as a professional actor and looks forward to the exciting catalog of upcoming films and television shows that Tavares will be featured in. 

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Q&A With South Beach Alum Yulia Korotkova on “Waters” and What Inspires Her as a Creator

Like many creatives, New York Film Academy (NYFA) South Beach alum Yulia Korotkovia was focused on finishing her degree and doing it during a pandemic. Not to let the current situation of learning and creating from home hinder her creativity, Korotkova decided to create a short film at home using her iPhone. The finished product, Waters, went on to win the Student Choice Award at the NYFA South Beach Made at Home Film Festival, and also we won proper use of location award from New York Film Academy Filmed at Home Festival. 

Korotkova’s Waters then got screened outside the NYFA community, earning an Official Selection at The Lift-Off Sessions – UK, the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, and the Miami Independent Film Festival

NYFA caught up with the Acting for Film alum to talk about her film Waters, advice for incoming NYFA students, and her next projects. 

NYFA South Beach alum Yulia Korotkova

New York Film Academy (NYFA): How did you decide to pursue acting for film and film in general?

Yulia Korotkova (YK): I was always passionate about storytelling and acting. I have previous experience in the theater, but after I immigrated to the US I became shy about my accent and that shyness slowly grew over time. A friend of mine who studied in NYFA before suggested that I check out the program and take a workshop. 

NYFA: What made you decide to come to New York Film Academy and the South Beach campus?

YK: I live in Miami Beach so NYFA South Beach was an obvious choice. I loved the hands-on approach and the 4-Week workshop flew by. My love for acting and film came back, so I chose to enroll in the MFA Acting for Film degree. 

After the school went fully online because of COVID, I got to audit several filmmaking classes and learned more about the technical part of producing and filmmaking. In my summer/fall break I took it a step further and enrolled in an online cinematography class from NYFA as well.

NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming students? 

YK: Prepare yourself to be submerged in the world of opportunities. Open your mind and be a sponge. Ask as many questions as you have and enjoy every minute of learning. Remember, this is the place to learn from your mistakes, so don’t be afraid to take risks.

Still from Yulia’s film “Waters”

NYFA: Can you tell us more about your film Waters and how you came up with the idea?

YK: Waters came to life as a desperate need of a creative outlet. Being enclosed in our homes, and not having easy contact with my classmates and friends, while in Zoom classes, was a very new and strange experience that took a toll on everyone’s mental health. My husband got an idea for an experimental shot while playing with the phone camera and I instantly came up with the story and the script for Waters

At the moment we got excited and didn’t think about our lack of equipment. We filmed on an iPhone, used our shopping cart with a tripod attached to it for dolly shots, taped the iPhone to a Swiffer mop for the feet walk shot and we used a regular straw to blow the water to create a ripple effect.

NYFA: What about your film Freedom?

YK: Freedom is a thesis project of one of my acting classmates, Alejandra Vergara. Because of all the restrictions due to COVID, we all had to cut, fix, and adjust our projects. Alejandra, the writer, and producer of Freedom, asked me for help to just film her on an iPhone. But when I saw the script I knew this film had to be made and shown to the world, and an iPhone would not do it justice. Freedom talks about questions we all face every single day and I believe everyone who watches the film will be able to keep a piece of it for themselves. 

NYFA: As an actress and filmmaker, do you think it is important to specialize in multiple places in the industry?

YK: I believe multi-proficiency is always a benefit. Actors/writers and writers/directors have been on an uprise. I recently attended a NYFA organized event with Tova Laiter and President of MGM’s Motion Picture Group, Pam Abdy, who mentioned how studios prefer a writer who can direct their films and actors who can write and even co-direct or direct. I was in an acting program but being able to learn to write, produce and even direct my own material was a very unique NYFA experience. I don’t want to sit down and wait to be discovered. I want to be on set, and I want to create and tell stories. [At NYFA] it was amazing to have so many wonderful instructors who are happy to guide and teach at any time. 

Yulia filming on set

NYFA: What gets you excited about working in the industry and creating? What stories interest you the most?

YK: I love everything about the industry. It is so powerful but with power comes the responsibilities. We are here to entertain, but also to educate, create awareness on different topics, and to influence people to be better. I, personally, love comedies and mystery but when it comes to writing I feel the need to tell stories of struggles and stories that will give hope to uplift the audience and give them the strength to believe in themselves and to keep fighting. 

NYFA: Do you have any upcoming projects coming up that you can share?

YK: I am currently in post-production for the short that was my thesis film iN-siDe, which creates awareness for Dissociative Identity Disorder and I am also working on the early pre-production stage and a fundraiser for my script Step Away, which addresses different types of domestic abuse, such as emotional, mental and physical. Some of the scenes are based on true stories. 

NYFA: Is there anything else you would like to add? 

YK: Never stop creating and whatever you do, do your best, give 150% and enjoy while doing it. Never ever let anybody kill your dreams. 

New York Film Academy would like to thank Yulia Korotkova for taking the time to share more about her time as a NYFA student and about her process when it comes to creating engaging stories and pursuing your work.

NYFA Acting for Film Student and Veteran Freddie Basnight on The Balance Getting His MFA and Working in The Industry

MFA Acting for Film student Freddie Basnight is making the transition from serving in the US Army for over a decade to acting and directing.

Though he graduates in May 2021, Basnight is already actively involved in the industry with a 5-Star reviewed film on Amazon Prime under his belt and a forthcoming film alongside Ashley Greene and Shawn Ashmore on the way. 

NYFA was able to catch up with Basnight to learn more about the actor and creator’s background in the film industry, studying at NYFA, and his upcoming projects. 

Ashley Green (Left), Freddie Basnight (Middle), and Shawn Ashmore (Right) on set of “Aftermath”

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Freddie Basnight (FB): Well, I’m from Fort Wayne, Indiana and I served in the US Army for over 10 years and also in Iraq in 2008. I moved to LA from Colorado after getting out of the military in 2016 to pursue acting at NYFA. I actually started acting in middle school, high school, and doing a couple of live plays during the late 1990s and early 2000s. 

I enjoy reading, traveling, movies and tv shows, writing, directing, producing projects, and collaborating with other artists. I’m also a member of SAG-AFTRA and have been since 2018, all while going to school at NYFA. I currently have multiple representations in LA and North Carolina. 

NYFA: Can you tell us more about what you’re working on?

FB: I’m currently working on my MFA Acting degree. Since arriving in LA and attending NYFA, I’ve been hustling and grinding the whole time. I’ve attended acting classes outside of school, casting director workshops, networking events, and numerous movie screening events. 

I’ve done tons of auditions for commercials, film, and TV Shows like, The Punisher, Euphoria, This is Us, S.W.A.T, Seal Team, and many others. In 2019, I booked a feature called Aftermath with Ashley Greene and Shawn Ashmore, which will come out next year. I also booked a new TV show titled Coyote, working alongside Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Fantastic Four), which recently aired on CBS All Access on January 7, 2021. For the three projects I have currently on FilmFreeWay, I’ve won 40 film festivals so far; domestic and international. 

Freddie Basnight (Left) and Michael Chiklis (Right)

NYFA: Can you tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?

FB: Well after the COVID-19 situation, a lot of things slowed down within the entertainment industry, unfortunately, including the number of auditions I was getting at the time, but in June 2020, I wrote and directed a short horror film in the meantime. The film is called The Strange and is currently in the post-production phase. I decided to do this film because I’ve always been interested in doing something horror-related at some point and I felt this was the perfect opportunity to do it. I’m also in the development stage of my thesis project as well as another collaboration with an amazing actress that I’ve worked with on a romance film I directed titled Forbidden Love, which can be viewed on Amazon Prime

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

FB: My initial mindset when attending NYFA was just set on acting, specifically, but what I’ve learned over the four years was so much more than I could ever imagine. I’ve learned about editing, producing, writing, directing, lighting, theatre, new media, set etiquette and terminology, as well as auditions. In the NYFA acting program, Shakespeare is taught, as well as Voice-Over work, improvisation, various acting techniques, and voice/movement classes. This experience and training has allowed me to be better prepared for a career in the industry, as well as to have the skills to compete and be at the top of my game. 

New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA Acting for Film student Freddie Basnight for taking the time to share more about his experience at NYFA and upcoming projects, and encourages everyone to check out Coyote, now streaming on CBS All Access. 

Alumni Update!

Freddie Basnight has been in rehearsals for Diavolo Veteran’s S.O.S Signs of Strength set to premiere at the Wallis Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on March 18th and 19th 2022 at 7:30pm!

Basnight describes the project as a journey of sacrifice, belonging, connectedness, and survival. Be sure to grab your tickets if you’re in town!

A Q&A With Acting Alum Chandrika Ravi on Her Favorite Projects and Admiration For Indian Cinema

Chandrika Ravi took the Indian film industry by storm after debuting in the 2018 Tamil comedy blockbuster Irattu Arayil Murattu Kuthu, immediately followed by the Tamil thriller, Sei.

Among other things, Chandrika is a UNICEF India Ambassador and was the first Indian to place in the state finals of Miss World Australia. She also has an active modeling career, appearing in international magazines and international campaigns for brands like Schwarzkopf and Beauty Blender.

NYFA spoke with the Acting for Film alum on her budding career, her admiration for Indian cinema, and the actress’ future projects.

Photo by Combina

New York Film Academy (NYFA): You grew up in Australia, but you are well known in the Indian film industry. How did you make the jump to begin a career in India?

Chandrika Ravi (CR): I had been getting a few movie offers in India already after I had competed in Miss World Australia and Miss Maxim India; but made my first work trip in April 2016 to try and scope out my options to see if it would be something that I would really want to do, especially as I had just settled down in Los Angeles. By July of that year, I was back in South India shooting my first Tamil film titled Sei, and have been shuttling back and forth between India and Los Angeles almost monthly ever since having already completed four South Indian films. 

NYFA: But you also decided to study acting. What brought you to New York Film Academy?

CR: Moving to Los Angeles had always been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl as I started learning acting and dancing from the age of three. I came to Los Angeles to research the various schools that were out here and my father and I actually found NYFA, and I immediately knew that was where I wanted to continue my studies in acting. 

NYFA: The Indian film industry is one of the largest and most diverse in the world, with so many different languages present and representation across multiple regions. What do you love most about working in the Indian film industry? For those who have yet to discover the Indian film industry, what films would you recommend they watch to introduce them to Indian cinema?

CR: Having been brought up learning classical and folk Indian and western dance styles my whole life alongside undertaking my studies in acting; that is honestly what I love the most about being in the Indian film industry. Of course, not every film is in the musical genre, but for someone who loves both; it is a dream come true to be able to perform both my passions in front of the camera. Two films that I would recommend that have always been the absolute favourite that I think captures the beauty of our culture, country, dance, colours, and sounds are Devdas and Ram Leela. The cinematography, choreography, costuming, dialogues, and sets are beyond beautiful! 

Photo by Derec Ethan

NYFA: What would be your dream project to work on?

CR: My dream project to work on both in India and in Hollywood would be a biopic film. I would love to be a part of a cross-cultural period piece like Troy that can give the western world an insight into our Indian history and mythological stories. 

NYFA: From modeling to acting, you’ve done a lot across the industry. Do you have a favorite of the two? 

CR: I would definitely say that acting is my favourite. Modeling has always been a hobby of mine, but acting has always been my first love. I definitely do think they both compliment each other as they both require you to know your angles, how to carry yourself, body language, and how to caress the camera. 

NYFA: You recently shot Un Kadhal Irundhal; did you shoot any scenes during the pandemic? As the world waits for the film’s release, can you tell us more about it and what you hope audiences will enjoy about the film?

CR: Luckily we were able to finish production on Un Kadhal Irundhal before the pandemic hit, but unfortunately our release date has been delayed due to the closure of theatres around the world. This film is something I am very excited for the world to see as I play a role that’s very different from what audiences have seen me play. It is a thriller film, with a great storyline and follows the story of the main character Neha, played by myself, as she maneuvers her husband’s secret plot to exploit her to create the storyline for his next film. 

Poster for Un Kadhal Irunthal

NYFA: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

CR: I am currently working on an original scripted show, in which we were able to fine-tune the script with the time spent at home during the pandemic; alongside getting ready for pilot season starting back up over here. I am really looking forward to being able to get back to Indian cinema as soon as it is safe to travel back. Apart from that, I am still continuing my advocacy work with UNICEF India and the other charities and causes I work with; and spending more time this year alongside other South Asian artists in bridging the gap and creating stronger ties between the east and west, especially in the entertainment industry. 

NYFA: What advice do you have for incoming NYFA students after your experience?

CR: My advice for incoming students would be to soak every little thing in. Every moment in class, the people around you, the professors; especially those who are going to continue their careers in their own countries. The experience, knowledge, and memories will stay with you forever. The classes were so interactive and learning from professionals who are also still working in the industry was incredible. It was such a pleasant experience and I look back on my time at NYFA very fondly.

New York Film Academy would like to thank Chandrika Ravi for taking the time to share more on her career and looks forward to the upcoming release of Ravi’s latest film Un Kadhal Irundhal.

Q&A With Acting for Film Alum Angela Blake on Studying at NYFA and Creating Her Own International Film Festival (SF3)

Native Australian Angela Blake grew up in Sydney, Australia and was surrounded by the arts from a young age. Now, Blake is a certified performer and the co-founder of SF3, the SmartFone Flick Fest, an international film festival that she co-created in the hopes that anyone can feel like they can enter a film festival and create a film no matter what kind of equipment they have.

New York Film Academy caught up with the NYFA alum during the busy festival season to ask her more about her career and how she came up with the idea for creating the International SmartFone Flick Fest (SF3).

New York Film Academy (NYFA): What did you study at NYFA and why did you decide to study with NYFA?

Angela Blake (AB): I moved to LA in 2010 when NYFA offered me a scholarship into their 1-Year Acting for Film program. The truth is, I was nearly 30 and looking to move my career into more acting roles. I had spent the past eight years touring internationally and I was also looking to spend some time in one place. I saw that NYFA was auditioning in Sydney and I went along. 

Straight after my audition, I started a six month tour of Australia in Dora the Explorer Live on Stage. This was an amazing gig but six months on the road is a long time, so when I got the call that I had been offered a place at NYFA, I jumped on the chance to relocate to LA and transition my career and I was very impressed with NYFA. I loved everything I had seen in my audition in Sydney. I also wanted to study with all the teachers I found in my research, and who doesn’t dream about moving to LA to act?! I was especially excited to be able to film on the Universal Studios Backlot as part of my program; that just seemed so cool to me all the way in Sydney.

NYFA Acting for Film alum Angela Blake

NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming students?

AB: I guess my advice is twofold and perhaps a little contradictory, but hey…isn’t that just being a human?

  1. I would say immerse yourself totally in NYFA and your study. NYFA hires some of the most amazing and experienced teachers in the world. They are instructors who are all working professionals themselves. Listen to them, learn everything you can from them, pick their brains, ask a million questions, let yourself be inspired daily, and do the hard work. 
  1. But on the flip side, make sure that you also live life outside of acting. LA is a really cool town; there are so many great sites to see, restaurants to go to, theatre, poetry nights…you name it, LA has it. Remember to be a person too. Go to LA to study but also remain grounded in life and the world around you. I think that’s an Aussie thing; the importance of staying grounded and true to yourself. 

NYFA: How did you get more involved in filmmaking and acting? 

AB: The other great thing about studying at NYFA is the whole set-up between the acting and the filmmaking students. This means that acting students are lucky enough to get to work in the filmmaking students’ films most weekends (and of course the reverse is true…how lucky are the filmmakers to have access to such talent)! But this connection meant that I got a lot of real time on set and real time on set with filmmakers who were learning their craft. I watched a lot, made friends with many filmmakers, many of whom I’m still close with, and I always asked questions. 

After I graduated from NYFA, I had a whole showreel and collection of films I had made and so I started working. I went back to my roots and did a lot of indie theatre, even touring a play to Off-Broadway in NY. I acted in web-series, film shorts and enjoyed some small roles in features. I auditioned for everything I could and kept taking classes almost every day. 

One of my mentors from NYFA was Anthony Montes, my Meisner teacher. “You look happy. I look happy. You look happy!” Anthony is one of the biggest artistic influences of my life and he was really encouraging of me and all his students to not just be an actor and not wait around for a role, but instead, we should be creating roles for ourselves and explore filmmaking, writing, directing, and producing as well. “Make your own work.” This really spoke to me. Anthony was the first teacher who thought I would make a good director and I learned a lot from him. He was so generous in his time and let me direct in class. He also encouraged us to write our own works and a bunch of students were able to put together a play we wrote together at a theatre in Hollywood, which I produced and directed. 

This “make your own work” notion and the idea I could create something myself is one of the strongest things I brought home to Australia with me. 

Photo courtesy of Angela Blake

NYFA: What roles are you attracted to the most?

AB: Great question. Hmmmmm, I guess I love troubled characters. People living life on the margins. Outsiders. I also love comedies and trying to be funny. I especially like directing comedies and seem to get hired to direct mostly comedies. I think I have a good understanding of what makes something funny. Or at least I hope I do!

As a filmmaker, I tend to make films with a social agenda or commentary; definitely not funny ones. For instance, I just finished a film on being transgender and the daily assaults one endures and, before that, I made a little short on domestic violence and another on infant death. Light stuff!

On the other hand, I seem to get hired to direct comedies. I think I have a good eye for what’s funny, or at least I sure hope I do! I love directing comedies and perhaps I love delving into the human condition in my own works. 

NYFA: You co-founded the SF3. Can you tell us more about that? How did this come to be and why Australia?

AB: Yes I am the Co-Founder of SF3, the SmartFone Flick Fest. We are Australia’s international smartphone film festival and are based in Sydney, Australia, though we accept films from all over the world. In fact, this year, we received submissions from over 50 countries including Australia and the US, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Russia, China, the Philippines, and everywhere in between. 

So after my time in LA, when my visa was expiring, I decided to move home. I missed my family and truly, I missed Australia. But, I returned home with a lot of amazing things I had learned from NYFA and from two teachers in particular, Ros Gentle and Anthony Montes. I really had learned from them to create my own work and this thought revolutionised my life and career. I brought this belief and drive home with me, along with the quintessential American enthusiasm I picked up living in LA for two years. 

So as soon as I got home, I directed a short play in a theatre festival here called Short + Sweet. Ali Crew, who is now my SF3 Co-Founder, auditioned for my play and I gave her a role. Over the course of the festival we kept winning rounds and we made it all the way through to the finals. This meant that I got to see how a festival worked up close and Ali and I both loved how the Short + Sweet Festival gave theatre makers and anyone who wanted to be a theatre maker the opportunity to get on stage, to give it a go, and try out new work. We realised that there wasn’t really anything like it for filmmakers at that time, in Australia anyway, and we wanted to rectify that. I mentioned that in LA people had just started making films on their phones, so we combined those ideas and SF3 was born. We wanted to help make filmmaking affordable and accessible to all. 

Angela Blake (left) at SmartFone Flick Fest

NYFA: At a time like this, why is this something filmmakers should take part in now more than ever?

AB: Because now more than ever we need stories, we need to stay connected, we need to share what makes us human, share love, and stay creative. Many people around the world have spent so much of this year in lockdown with nothing much except their phones and imaginations. Perfect for SF3 ! That’s why we introduced our Iso Category this year, to honour what was happening in the world and to keep people inspired and making films no matter what the obstacles or how limited the resources. 

NYFA: What were some of the challenges you faced getting the festival up and running?

AB: Hahahaha money. Isn’t that the truth for us all? Really that was and still is the main obstacle. 

It’s amazing how generous other humans are though; we get so much industry support and love. We have a group of some of the most incredible creatives out there who sit on our judging panel out of the kindness of their hearts. Our five Ambassadors are the cream of the crop, Phillip Noyce, Kriv Stenders, Kerry Armstrong, Nicole da Silva and Christopher Stollery, and they donate so much of their time to us doing media and our first ever online panel discussion. We have a slew of sponsors from our Major Sponsors including: We Are Treehouse, Struman Optics and Luma Touch to all our prize sponsors, who all donate over $40,000 worth of prizes annually to our prize pool. It’s so humbling to have the in-kind and monetary support we receive. 

But, our big corporate sponsor, the one will eventually allow us to hire staff and grow the festival quicker and in ways that only cash can…that is the ongoing difficulty. However, I’m persistent so watch this space!

South Korean Actress Yoon Joon (Left) with Angela Blake (Right)

NYFA: Can you tell us about any other projects you are working on?

AB: SF3 takes sooooooo much of my time and creative energy, but the season is about to end and I’m looking forward to getting back into some of my creative pursuits that have been waiting in the background. I’m currently studying for my Master’s in Creative Writing and I have a lot to write for that, including a feature film (that I’ve been writing for way too long), but I plan on finishing my first draft by Christmas. I’ve also just finished another short film and so I will be entering that one into festivals (I shot it on my phone too), and I have my poetry which I’d like to do something with. 

NYFA: Is there anything else you would like to add?

AB: I’d love to hear from anyone! Please follow SF3 on our socials as we love connecting with creatives from all over the world. 

It’s now SF3’s 6th year running now. You can catch 85 smartphone films, including 11 features in our very first Online Virtual Festival. Tickets start at pay-what-you-can and run from October 10 – 25, 2020. We are also hosting an online master class with Hollywood legend, Phillip Noyce, on Saturday 17th Oct at 6pm LA time or Sunday 18th at 12pm AEST. 

You can grab tickets to all events from or

New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA alum Angela Blake for taking the time out of her festival schedule to share more about SF3 and her journey as a creative performer, writer, director, and collaborator. NYFA looks forward to seeing what’s next from the Acting for Film alum!

Q&A With NYFA Alum and Actor Fredrik Scheike on Coming to NYFA, The Importance of a Good Story for an Actor, and His Upcoming Projects

Originally from Sweden, Fredrik Scheike grew up doing theatre and taking drama classes at a very early age, but hadn’t considered the possibility of a professional career in acting. Now, the NYFA Acting for Film alum has two Netflix productions under his belt and a role in a critically acclaimed film to show for it and is showing no signs of slowing down having multiple projects in the works. 

New York Film Academy spoke with the alum about his upcoming projects and advice for incoming students coming to the Academy and the role of a good story for an actor. 

NYFA acting for film alum Fred Scheike’

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Well, first off, can you tell us more about where you are from? What made you decide to pursue a career in acting?

Fredrik Scheike (FS): I’m originally from Åre/Östersund, Sweden, where I started doing theatre and taking drama classes very young. I didn’t even consider it a possibility until I came across NYFA and Steven Chinni in New York when I went there on vacation one spring in 2011. I’ve always done it as more than a hobby, up until then.

NYFA: What made you decide to come to New York Film Academy?

FS: I went to New York on a whim, got great, cheap tickets and accommodation, and walking about one day I asked for information at NYFA. The next day I was invited for a tour and an interview, and I fell in love with the possibility of studying and living in New York, and reigniting my passion for the dramatic arts.

NYFA: What advice would you give to any incoming students?

FS: Make the most out of your time at NYFA, don’t settle, challenge yourself and apply yourself. The acting world is hard and having a career is even harder. The more you put your back into it from the get-go, the more you’ll get out of it, and the more you’ll be prepared for the real world.

NYFA: Can you tell us more about some of your recent/most notable projects?

FS: We’re currently in a pre-production phase of a new family feature, mixing animation and real actors, and we’ve already got some great Spanish names on board. I’m working both on the production, with our family’s production company Tyl Escénicas Producciones A.I.E, and as an actor in a small part. We produced another feature, Moira, which premiered last year and is currently running on the Spanish streaming platform Filmin and, before that, I was lucky enough to get involved for two episodes in a Netflix Original here in Spain!

Film poster for ‘Moira’

NYFA: Can you tell us about your character in Moira? What was it like to work alongside the cast and how did you connect with the story?

FS: The story is that of the family I married into, with a fictional twist of course, so having gotten to know them long before reading the script made it easy. The story is relationship-oriented, but does strike a universal chord. There are so many people suffering dictatorships, exile, emigration, immigration and segregation, and those who try to forget their past. Just look at the total number of refugees in the world right now, even though COVID-19 is at the forefront of all conversations. 

My character is Mike, an American franchise owner who has relocated to Spain for work and gets involved with the story’s protagonist and eventually serves as a bit of a catalyst for the protagonist’s transformative decision. It was fun to play a chauvinistic dirt-bag, to be honest, because it challenged myself to strike that human nerve in despicable behavior.

NYFA: For any project, what gets you excited? 

FS: Story. Story. Story. I’m a story-junky. A good story always gets me going because with it comes the challenge to tell that story in the best manner possible.

NYFA: Do you have any upcoming projects coming up?

FS: I just got optioned for a national commercial and I briefly mentioned Uli, the Dog, a new family feature we’re developing and pre-producing. It’s a project we hopefully will get up and shooting towards the end of Spring, 2021. A lot of pieces of the puzzle are coming together, but there’s still a whole bunch of work to do, and it all depends on how we all come out of this mess [COVID-19]. Also, financing is a thing we’re working on right now and I’m reaching out to producers and production companies both in Sweden and in the US to jump on board this fun project, but international projects, especially being a small Indie-producer, are sometimes hard to find funding.

NYFA: With COVID-19 halting productions, how are you staying creative right now?

FS: During the months of complete lock-down here in Spain we had a project commissioned to us where we represented classical stories and fairy tales for the children of our community, which was a lot of fun. That project unfortunately ended, so instead I’ve been taking a lot of photos, doing some videos and skits, but mainly writing. I’m always writing stories, prose and poems, and I actually published my first collection of poems…only in Swedish unfortunately.New York Film Academy would like to thank Acting for Film alum Fredrik Scheike for taking the time to share more on coming to NYFA, working in the industry, and more on his upcoming projects.

The 10 Best Monologues on Television

Television programs have undeniably conquered the hearts of many all across the globe. When studying in NYFA’s Acting for Film program, the search for a monologue can be a tough exercise. A search in classical or contemporary plays will do – oh absolutely – but why not try TV’s best moments? Incredibly talented actors and writers work day and night to make us laugh, cry, and feel anything possible in numerous ways. Whether new or old, TV shows always know how to shape, in writing and performance, the most entertaining moments of life. The following listing gathers nonpareil actors of all caliber in some of their best moments on screen.

1) Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder (2018)
In ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder, Viola Davis stars as law professor Annalise Keating. Davis is the first African-American actress to win a Primetime Emmy Award and SAG Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She also received two Golden Globes nominations for her work playing this iconic role. This daring show was created by Peter Nowalk with Shonda Rhimes as executive producer; both are known for their work on Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal. In fact, Keating (Davis) appeared in Scandal alongside Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope for a crossover episode in ‘Allow me to Reintroduce Myself’ (Season 7, Episode 12). The following monologue about racism has the ingredients for an important educating moment right in your living room, with a poignant text told with self-possession.

2) Michael Welch, Scandal (2015)
Scandal, aforementioned above, has also struck a new vision for television writing and includes many fabulous guest stars. In the series’ 14th season, the episode ‘The Lawn Chair’ showcases the gifted writers on the show. This beautifully crafted episode also features the talented work of Michael Welch (Twilight, Law and Order, X-Files, Malcolm in the Middle, Bones) delivering one of his most beautiful pieces as Officer Newton. In the scene, the actor’s smashing monologue confronting Kerry Washington is a powerful instant of captivating acting and writing. 

3) Sara Ramirez, Grey’s Anatomy (2009)
Internationally known for her recurring role in ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Callie Torres, Ramirez first started in Musical Theatre and collected a Tony Award for her powerhouse portrayal of Lady of the Lake in Spamalot (2015) on Broadway. Both funny and dramatic, Ramirez always peppers her brilliant work with fantastic emotional nuances. On Grey’s, 241 episodes later, she made her coming out as with the support of her many fans and the LGBTQ community. Additionally, she is an activist and highly campaigns for LGBTQ rights. In this piece, grab your handkerchiefs as her character Dr. Callie Torres goes through the mellow roller coaster relationships of any soap opera as she makes her second coming out to her dad. Short and to the point, it does the job and will stick with you for a while.


4) Jim Carrey, Saturday Night Live (1996)
Part of the clowns of Hollywood and splendidly precise and expressive in his work, Canadian-born Jim Carrey has a wide range of acting roles from Ace Ventura and The Mask to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Number 23. Carrey is able to spread his unique facial expressions and authenticity across his filmography and showcases that to viewers all over the world. This monologue from Saturday Night Live and it is probably one of the most stressful, thrilling and spontaneous. Why? Because it happens on Saturday Night Live! The title of the program says it all. As an official host during that special episode of season 21 in 1996, Carrey, in his perfect showman suit, brings us to his over-the-top, fascinating world. 

5) Margaret Reed, Seinfeld (1991)
Former Acting instructor Margaret “Maggie” Reed is a fantastic performer, TV program veteran, and award-winning actress. She made a catchy impression on the ‘The Baby Shower’ episode on Seinfeld as the hysterical Mary Contardi, venting a scathing speech in the face of Jerry Seinfeld himself. An easy looking monologue to perform, yet complicated. Reed vocally bombards Jerry so she can finish what she has to say in a comedic and frightening way. A very passionate performer, she can be seen along with Bobby Cannavale, Tim Blake Nelson and John Turturro in The Jesus Rolls. Her other noticeable appearances go from As the World Turns, Star Trek, The Golden Girls to Law and Order, The Americans or The Blacklist. Great job Maggie and all the best to you! 

6) Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom (2012)
Leading the cast of HBO’s political drama, The Newsroom, is Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy. The Primetime Emmy Award-winner speaks the words of brilliant creator and writer Aaron Sorkin across three seasons. The main events of the show happen behind the scenes of a fictional news channel, but this pearl of writing and opinionated piece certainly doesn’t. With ease, intelligence and knowledge, Daniels makes us believe in every word demonstrating realistic America and its strength. Notably famous for other major films, 101 Dalmatians, Pleasantville, The Hours and Steve Jobs, Daniels also took the stage and obtained a best actor Tony Nomination for each Broadway credits in God of Carnage, Blackbird and To Kill a Mockingbird.  

7) Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne (1993)
Tour de force Laurie Metcalf is always remembered for her character roles. She has a true gift for making something sad also seem quite boisterous. From her start at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company Family in Chicago and to being a TV guest star chameleon, Metcalf has earned three well-deserved Primetime Emmy Awards for her work on Roseanne. For her supporting roles, she is never the “regular” one, but a character with a twist. In this episode of the ABC hit Roseanne, after the loss of their dad, her character Jackie has to tell the family members and starts with Aunt Barbara, who seems to be very deaf. Speaking on the phone is one of the hardest exercises in stock for actors because you have to be precise in your delivery. 

8) Robin Williams, 77th Academy Awards Ceremony (2005)
The Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, SAG Award, Grammys, he has them all under his belt from his long, inspiring career. A memorable vocal impressionist, risk-taker, and sensitive soul, Williams has put on many hats to showcase his nuances as a performer from the heartfelt and goofy Genie in Disney’s Aladdin and the witty Mrs. Doubtfire. This monologue is his speech obtaining a Cecil B. DeMill Award for his stamp on Hollywood History. Still spontaneous and fun, grateful Williams goes to ‘voices mode’ for our amusement.

9) Marcia Cross, Desperate Housewives (2006)
Probably one of the most fun, uptight characters you’d ever adore on the screen is Marcia Cross. Her take on Bree Van de Kamp is a pure joy to watch and rewatch on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Across the show’s eight seasons, Cross was nominated three times at the Golden Globes and once at the Primetime Emmy Awards. Previously famous in soaps such as One Life to Live, Knots Landing and Melrose Place, she also landed several guest stars roles on major sitcom shows from Cheers, Who’s the Boss, Seinfeld to Murder, She Wrote or, more recently, Quantico playing Madame President. Regal, subtle and very eccentric for Bree, this monologue happens when she and her friends are at her husband’s funeral. There’s certain things she can’t hear, and it will be told with class and diction.

10) Sofia Vergara, Saturday Night Live
Everyone adores the accent of the exquisite Colombian-American Sofia as she has proven to America and the rest of the world that beyond a sparkly accent, her talents make her a Hollywood shining star like any other actress. Four-time Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy-nominee for her fun loud role of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family, she is a prominent character across the show’s eleven seasons. Impressive! Vergara has made tons of appearances on TV including Saturday Night Live (Season 37, Episode 18). She starts off hosting with a very personal speech as an eager dreamer from Colombia ready to reach for the stars but mainly someone who accepts herself for who she is. Big lesson right there; own your accent, never forget where you are from, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t speak English.

Ludovic Coutaud is a NYFA alum and writer. For more information, click here.

Q&A With Acting for Film Alum and Director Howard Campbell on Acting and His Original Film ‘Sick Boys Die Alone’

New York Film Academy Acting for Film alum Howard Campbell has hit the ground running since graduating NYFA, not only auditioning for roles as an actor, but putting himself behind the camera as a writer and director. 

His short film Sick Boys Die Alone is now available to watch on Amazon Prime and follows a diagnosed bipolar comedian as he shares his last jokes on an unexpected crowd after a lifetime of unfortunate events. 

NYFA caught up with the Acting for Film alum to discuss everything from wanting to become an actor and studying at NYFA, to taking on the hybrid role as a director and writer.

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Where did you grow up and how did you first get involved with acting?

Howard Campbell (HC): I was an army brat from birth so I don’t really have one place that I grew up in. It was more of a collective of different states because my family moved around so often. However, I lived in Texas the longest so I sometimes claim that that’s where I’m from. 

My earliest memory of wanting to be an actor was probably around seven years old. I was obsessed with Jurassic Park and the original Karate Kid movie, so I would just rewatch movies like that around that time, and essentially repeat everything I saw the actors doing. A year later, I got my own VHS camera and started making little films myself. 

NYFA Acting for Film alum Howard Campbell

NYFA: So what made you decide to come to NYFA?

HC: Aside from wanting to get better at my craft, NYFA’s location and the fact that we would be able to work on the Universal Studios backlot is what really sold me on attending. Directing is equally important to me and I liked that NYFA had a whole department for filmmaking because I knew somehow I’d be able to to learn more of that side too, even though I did the acting program. 

NYFA: That’s exciting, so the hybrid learning was key in how you decided what you wanted to study. Do you have any advice for incoming students?

HC: My advice to incoming students would be to go to as many of the networking events, Q&A’s, and screenings that you can! I went to the Q&A’s religiously and aside from the knowledge you’re getting from working professionals, you may also get inspiration you need to keep going. Also, the school is what you make of it; so if you really want to improve or learn, you will. But you have to do the work.

NYFA: After graduation, how did you seek out auditions or what was your first big start in the business as a professional?

HC: After graduation, I found an agent and manager who began submitting me to auditions. It was much harder than I thought it’d be but when you book something, it’s rewarding; a never ending journey though. I’m still VERY early on in my career and even though I have a couple projects under my belt, I still deal with rejection every week and the inconsistency of the life of an actor. Ya’ gotta love it! (sarcasm).

NYFA: Though you mention your short time in the business, you have still managed to land roles on some notable shows like Snowfall and The Boys? What was that like?

HC: Snowfall was actually one of the first projects I booked and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. Being on such a stylized, serious show was a dream of mine. All the actors we’re so talented and took the work so seriously that every day on set I would just watch and learn from everyone, including the crew. 

I had a tiny scene on Amazon’s The Boys, but it was great doing that show because It allowed me to travel and meet really dope people in Canada. I also learned more about the making of a high budget action-superhero show, which I didn’t think I would see for a while.

Poster for ‘Sick Boys Die Alone’

NYFA: You wrote, directed, and acted in your film Sick Boys Die Alone. The film itself really captures the dark side that many comedians draw from to make jokes or their commentary on life, which many creatives do for their own craft. What inspired you to make this film?

HC: A couple things inspired me to make my film Sick Boys Die Alone. Mental health is, and probably will always be, an extremely important topic to me. So writing “Sick Boys” was honestly therapeutic for me because I was going through a tough time when I wrote it. Also, I have a close friend that’s a comedian so I used to go to a few comedy shows and was so amazed at how personal some of the comedians would get with their jokes. 

I knew it had to come from a real place sometimes. I believe people can relate to vulnerability so I thought it was important to tell a story like “Sick Boys” because it’s real life; men, people of color, and all humans need to see that represented more on screen.   

NYFA: What do you hope audiences experience or feel after watching Sick Boys Die Alone?

HC: I hope audiences feel more compassionate to all humans after watching the film. I really wanted to reinforce the statement that you really never know what people are dealing with in their lives. We all have a different deck of cards we were given in this life so a little compassion and taking the time to listen and understand people, goes a long way. 

NYFA: Do you have any other upcoming projects you would like us to know about?

HC: Currently, my upcoming projects are in the air. I have a couple exciting pitch meetings coming up for the Sick Boys Die Alone limited series, and a few other projects I have written. I know it’s only a matter of time before I find the right home for those projects and can begin pre-production on them. As for me just as an actor, I did do a fun role in a new indie feature that’s set to come out this year but I still don’t have a specific date at this time, so I don’t want to misspeak on it. I’m still auditioning and enjoying the good ol’ actor’s journey! (sarcasm).

New York Film Academy would like to thank Acting for Film alum Howard Campbell for taking the time to speak on his experience in the industry and encourages readers to check out his latest film Sick Boys Die Alone, now available on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

A Tribute to The Life of Chadwick Boseman

10:11 pm, August 28th 2020. 

Posts began to appear on Chadwick Boseman’s social accounts announcing his departure after battling colon cancer for the better part of four years in secret.

At 10:12 pm, the entire world began to mourn. 

Very few individuals have left such an impact on the world in such little time as Chadwick Aaron Boseman did. Before 2016, few households knew his name even though he received critical acclaim for his work in the films 42, the biopic on baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson and Get On Up, where he portrayed the legendary James Brown. However, when he graced the screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Captain America: Civil War as Prince T’Challa, he had arrived.

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It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman.⁣ ⁣ Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. ⁣ ⁣ A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. ⁣ ⁣ It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. ⁣ ⁣ He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. ⁣ ⁣ The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time. ⁣ ⁣ Photo Credit: @samjonespictures

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While he played a pivotal part in that film, the world awaited for his true coronation, the film that shook the industry and shattered as many stereotypes as it did records. We are, of course, talking about Black Panther. In a film that broke the mold of the Hollywood myths and stigma in Black cinema, Black Panther became the highest grossing solo superhero film and, more importantly, the highest grossing film by a Black director. Helmed by the talented Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed), the film was composed of a cast almost entirely of Black actors, set operators, designers and consultants, all representing the Black community.

The film brought important discussions within the community to the big screen and it became the first superhero film to be nominated for ‘Best Picture’ at the 91st Academy Awards. In total, Black Panther was nominated for seven coveted golden statues and it ended the night with three wins, one of which was given to Ruth E. Carter for ‘Best Costume Design,’ the first African American in the history of the Oscars to win in this category.

The achievements of that film are great indeed, but they pale in comparison to how Chadwick Boseman brought the King T’Challa to the cinemascape. He took the mantle of the King of Wakanda, the fictional country in Africa known for its wealth and scientific advancement, and his performance was not only an outstanding portrayal of the superhero Black Panther, but he moved many with how he brought this beloved, and for many unseen, character to life. His demeanor, charm, and his grace on the screen truly felt like he came from a royal bloodline, raised to carry himself with dignity wherever he appeared, and that is why we mourn.

Boseman is celebrated by his peers for being a man of principle and dignity. Every room he graced, he did so with poise and respect. Every interaction with a fan or a colleague was with a warm heart and a welcome embrace. He was a man who chose his words carefully because he understood how powerful they were and he lived his life with the intention to inspire purpose. He also chose his roles wisely because he knew how important it was to bring life to those who paved the way for the Howard University Alum to portray Jackie Robinson and James Brown.

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How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy. My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with. A true class act. And so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation. He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life. He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all. He was zen and sweet and funny (with the very best laugh), attentive, and truly, truly, good. I can’t even wrap my mind around this loss. A loss resonating in my own heart as well as around the globe. The children he inspired, my heart aches for them, to lose their hero just as they finally found him. I am so thankful to have taken the Black Panther journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend. Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani.

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He likely knew there was a chance he may leave this world when he played Thurgood Marshall and most recently Norman Earl Holloway in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods. Attempting to fill those shoes is a monumental ask in itself. Yet, he did so while going through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy without a hint to the outside world. He continued to live his life with purpose until the end, while shouldering his suffering in silence to bring about performances that would leave a lasting impact and encourage others to inspire and give hope for generations to come. To show young Black men and boys that they too can have a hero that looks like them, that came where they came from, and has experienced what they’ve experienced.

At age 43, Chadwick Boseman left such a mark in a career that only spanned roughly a decade that it is hard to believe that he is gone. It seems as if there are so many more stories to tell, worlds to visit and examples of dignity, class and purpose that only he could give us. It is difficult to imagine another like Chadwick in our lifetime, however, he has left an exemplary body of work to gather inspiration from. It is important to note that the shock felt around the world when the news broke serves to remind us that life is ever so fragile and we should all look to lead a life that he so delicately illustrated for us; a life of purpose. As we say goodbye to Chadwick, there are so many ways one can describe how amazing his light was and how far it reached and yet there seems to be few that do him justice. Except maybe one. 


Thank you for inspiring so much with just your presence. 

Wakanda Forever. 

Q&A With Acting for Film Alum Dr. Ariel Orama López on Creating Short Film “2ḦOOM” During a Global Pandemic

Like many filmmakers in 2020, this year has proven to be an uncertain time for filmmaking, however, filmmakers like Dr. Ariel Orama López has shown that the COVID-19 has no intention of slowing down their creative process or pursuing a successful film festival run.

Dr. López was eligible for the 2020 Oscars with his previous film One and for his latest film for his latest latest film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] he has already begun to receive a steady amount of laurels. Filmed indoors and outdoors, under strict protection measures and with the integration of creative elements during the COVID-19 pandemic, the short film follows the vulnerability of human beings, patients at risk and themes of immortality and Dr. López enlists the help of Peruvian animator and cartoonist Jorge Cáceres and an Italian composer Daniele Carretta to create a project that represents the related topics that emerged after the pandemic. 

NYFA caught up with the Acting for Film alum to discuss his latest short film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] and creativity in the time of COVID-19. López’s responses have also been translated into Spanish by the alum for those who prefer to read his responses in Spanish. 

Film poster for ‘2ḦOOM’

New York Film Academy (NYFA): What has been your inspiration for creating your short film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] during this very uncertain time as a writer, director, and actor?

Dr. Ariel Orama López (AL): When the pandemic arrived, my intuitive mind thought of two things: first, that the vaccine or the ‘antidote’ against COVID-19 could be related to the structure that gives the dreaded virus the shape of a “crown.”  I shared with my loved ones, with evidence, right at the beginning of this global situation. Second, that HIV/AIDS could be understood, in another way, after studies and future findings on the relatively new condition, and vice versa. Considering my formal education in Science and Arts, I decided to create a short film that linked such elements with the unimaginable power of water and the mysteries of quantum physics: a story that alluded to the “shield” or “armour” of the coronavirus (even on an emotional level, as a metaphor) as well as the stigma of HIV. Today we are one voice, without races: a new universe of masked beings. And that is how my short film 2ḦOOM [zoom] was born.”

Cuando llegó la pandemia, mi mente intuitiva pensó en dos cosas: la primera, que la vacuna o el ‘antídoto’ contra Covid-19 podrían estar relacionados con la estructura que le otorga al temido virus la forma de ‘corona’. Lo compartí con mis seres queridos, con evidencia, justo al comienzo de esta situación global. En segundo lugar, que el VIH/SIDA podría entenderse, de otra manera, después de estudios y hallazgos futuros sobre la condición relativamente nueva, y viceversa. Al considerar mi educación formal en ciencias y artes, decidí crear un cortometraje que vinculase tales elementos con el poder inimaginable del agua y los misterios de la física cuántica: una historia que aludiese al ‘escudo’ -o ‘armadura’- del coronavirus (incluso a nivel emocional, como metáfora) así como al estigma del VIH. Hoy somos una sola voz, sin razas: un nuevo universo de seres enmascarados. Y así nació el cortometraje 2ḦOOM [Zoom].

In addition to animation, live action sequences are also present in ‘2ḦOOM’ 

NYFA: Are you submitting the film to any upcoming festivals

AL: The short film 2ḦOOM [Zoom] is already submitted into distinguished international festivals: we hope that it can be screened in various countries, just like my previous short film One, which screened at 40 festivals. The magic of 2ḦOOM lies in its hybrid of animation and live filmed scenes, which is why we bet that they will be very well received in various contexts. We are celebrating that we already received eight international laurels (Chile, UK, Estados Unidos (virtual limited projection), Los Angeles, India and Puerto Rico) and one international prize.

El cortometraje 2ḦOOM [zu:m] ya se encuentra sometido en distinguidos diversos festivales internacionales: esperamos que pueda ser proyectado en diversos países, tal como sucedió con mi cortometraje anterior ONE, proyectado en 40 festivales. La magia de 2ḦOOM [zu:m] radica en su combinación de animación con escenas filmadas, por lo cual, apostamos a que tendrá una gran acogida en diversos contextos. Estamos celebrando que ya recibimos ocho laureles internacionales (Chile, Reino Unido, Estados Unidos (proyección limitada virtual), Los Ángeles, India and Puerto Rico) y un premio internacional. 

Still from animation sequence in ‘2ḦOOM’

NYFA: What do you hope people relate to or discuss after watching your film?

AL: I hope that 2ḦOOM viewers do not lose sight of the challenges of making a short film in full confinement. Precisely, the short highlights the vicissitudes of two family members when faced with such circumstances, in addition to the COVID-19 factor. Along the way, we managed to create a story with substance and creativity, with wonderful elements that inspire our new society to evolve, beyond races or social distinctions: as one, powerful voice.

Anhelo que los espectadores 2ḦOOM [zu:m] no pierdan de perspectiva los retos que conlleva efectuar un cortometraje en pleno confinamiento: precisamente, el corto destaca las vicisitudes de dos miembros de la familia al encontrarse ante tales circunstancias, sumados al factor COVID-19. En el trayecto, logramos elaborar una historia con sustancia y dotada de creatividad, con elementos maravillosos que inspiran a nuestra nueva sociedad a evolucionar, más allá de razas o distinciones sociales, como una sola y poderosa voz.

NYFA: What were some of the challenges you faced when creating the film?

AL: Among the challenges faced, the distance factor was one of the most complex elements and, at the same time, the one that allowed us to use creativity the most. Recreating a Zoom conversation with visual and sound quality, allowed us to think of innovative strategies to make it feel like a Zoom© call, but from a filmmaking perspective. Thanks to God and the commendable work of all the participants of the project (which includes talent from Peru, Italy, Argentina, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, USA, Venezuela and Chile, together with Puerto Rico), we were able to create a product of which we are proud and one that I am sure it will be kept in the hearts of the spectators.

Dentro de los retos confrontados, el factor distancia fue uno de los elementos de mayor complejidad y, a la vez, el que más nos permitió utilizar la creatividad. El recrear una conversación de zoom© con calidad visual y sonora, nos permitió pensar en estrategias innovadoras para que se sintiera como Zoom, pero desde una mirada fílmica. Gracias a Dios y al trabajo encomiable de todos los participantes del proyecto (que incluye talento de Perú, Italia, Argentina, México, Perú Colombia, Estados Unidos, Venezuela y Chile, sumado a Puerto Rico), pudimos gestar un producto del cual nos sentimos orgulloso y que, estoy seguro, quedará guardado en los corazones de los espectadores.

Mask on for Dr. López behind the scenes filming on location in Puerto Rico

NYFA: When will the film be available for the public to view?

AL: The film will be competing for two years in a cycle of international festivals and we are in negotiation for a commercial screening in the US. Recently, it was presented in the United Kingdom, the United States and Puerto Rico, virtually. Currently, it is presented at the Rincon International Film Festival (RIFF) from August 7 to September 6, 2020.

El filme estará por dos años compitiendo en ciclo de festivales internacionales y estamos en negociación para una proyección comercial en cine en USA. Recientemente, se presentó en Reino Unido, Estados Unidos y Puerto Rico, de forma virtual. Actualmente, se presenta en el Rincón International Film Festival (RIFF) del 7 de agosto al 6 de septiembre en 

New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Dr. Ariel Orama López on his recent success for his latest film and for sharing more on creating a film during the COVID-19 pandemic. NYFA encourages others to view the film when it becomes available to view outside the festival circuit. 

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UPDATE: September 14, 2020

“Our short film 2ḦOOM [zu:m] just received four nominations: two for Leading Actors (“Best Leading Actors” – Jonathan Cardenales & AG Orloz), one for Script Work (“Best Screenplay” – AG Orloz) and a fourth nomination laurel for Best Soundtrack (Danielle Carretta from Italy & AG Orloz)With all this, our short film on Covid-19 and HIV / AIDS reaches 19 international laurels, in just two months of international festivals. In other words, almost the trajectory of ONE -eligible to the Oscars 2020-, in two years. For our optimized version of the short film, we have included representative voices from Italy, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Brazil. Our eternal gratitude to them, as well as to the entire production team and the representative voices of Latin America (Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, Colombia, and Argentina) that make up this Film and Multimedia project. We continue to add cinematographic achievements for Puerto Rico, in times of transformation!”

Q&A With MFA Filmmaking Alum and International Production Manager Valéria Costa

New York Film Academy Los Angeles alum Valéria Costa was born to be in the film industry. After graduating from NYFA’s MFA Filmmaking program, Costa went on to produce work for Netflix, Uber, TLC, NatGeo, Twitter and Spotify. She also began to divide her time between the U.S and her native country of Brazil as a Production Manager for Brazil Production Services

Costa has worked on multiple projects both in Brazil and in the United States including Netflix’s Hyperdrive and 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way. She also worked on the NYC unit for the Brazilian feature film Minha Vida em Marte and on the set of the shoot for the Get to Know Me music video for Brazil’s biggest popstar, Anitta.

Costa recently worked on the Brazil Unit for Netflix productions of Sergio and Street Food: Latin America. New York Film Academy recently spoke with the NYFA alum to discuss some behind the scenes insight on these recent projects, as well as Costa’s role as a Production Manager, who specializes in working with foreign productions. 

NYFA MFA Filmmaking alum Valéria Costa

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us more about your background and how you got interested in filmmaking?

Valéria Costa (VC): I’m from São Paulo, Brazil and I’m 29 years old. While I was doing my Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, I took acting classes and, once I finished my acting course, I took an internship in a theatre company. During my time there, I had the opportunity to learn about all the other components of a play that wasn’t the acting itself. As we went through rehearsals, I learned from the director of the company how to design and operate the stage lighting of the show and also followed her process in choosing and building the play’s score, costumes and make-up. All those processes ended up interesting me a lot more than what I originally intended to do there, which was to act. But, I knew that I didn’t want to be in the theatre world only, so I decided to start exploring and studying the universe behind the film and television cameras.

NYFA: That’s a really neat story of how sometimes you find what you enjoy when studying something else; it’s all about discovery! So how did you end up coming to NYFA? 

VC: After I finished a post graduation course for Cinema in Brazil, I felt the need to learn the practical side of filmmaking. And I’ve always wanted to study abroad and improve my English, so I decided to apply to the Masters in Filmmaking at NYFA and kill two birds with one stone. 

NYFA: Can you tell us more about your role as Production Manager with Brazil Production Services?

VC: At Brazil Production Services, we act in a very specific niche part of the film industry. I’m specialized in assisting American and other foreign companies that wish to shoot productions in Brazil, as well as Brazilian companies that wish to film productions in the U.S. Due to my experience in both markets, I’m able to understand my client’s expectations when they arrive in Brazil or when they plan to have a city in the US as a filming location. So, besides having the usual responsibilities of a Film Production Manager, such as building and managing the production budget, sourcing qualified local crew, overall costs negotiation, overseeing risk assessment and production insurance matters, managing the production’s legal paperwork, monitoring deadlines and the production schedule…I also advise my clients on the local filming requirements of the country that they are looking to film at and align their expectations based on the limitations that their chosen location imposes. 

Film poster for ‘Sergio’

NYFA: Can you go into more detail about your work in the Brazil unit for Netflix film Sergio?

VC: It was a great experience. We had several weeks of pre-production and the challenge to build a 100+ local Rio de Janeiro crew, being the main members bilingual so they could communicate with the American crew that flew to Brazil for this shoot.

We also had to build a temporary production office to accommodate the project needs and, after analyzing the production plan, we felt that the best place to have it was in the Ipanema neighbourhood, in the same hotel where the foreign crew was staying, so we ended up almost closing the entire hotel for the production.

Another big challenge in this production were the underwater scenes that we shot at the Reserva beach in Rio de Janeiro. For those scenes, we decided to bring in from São Paulo the best underwater camera operator in Brazil so we could make sure we were getting the best footage for those moments.

There were also some challenges with both art and wardrobe departments. The scenes filmed in Rio de Janeiro were written as Sergio’s flashbacks, so they were set during the 70’s and we had to make sure all scene components were true to that time, such as street signs, cars, beach wear, people’s wardrobe, accessories, etc. 

Valéria Costa (Second from left) with the production crew behind the scenes of a shoot

NYFA: What has been your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

VC: I have special care for two Brazilian movies that I’ve produced scenes for in the U.S, which starred a big Brazilian comedian, Paulo Gustavo: Minha Vida em Marte (translates to: My Life in Mars) and Minha Mãe é uma Peça 3 (translates to: My Mother is a Character 3). 

Respectively, I produced the NYC Unit for the first film and the Los Angeles Unit for the second film. It was a great experience and really fulfilling to produce for an actor that is so well known in my home country. 

Valéria Costa (Second from Left) prepping for a production

NYFA: You’ve shot predominately in both Brazilian and U.S markets; What are some of the differences or similarities between working on those two sets culturally or professionally?

VC: I think that, besides the language, the biggest differences between shooting in Brazil versus shooting in the U.S are the processes, especially the bureaucratic ones. For example, the Brazilian customs are very tricky and complicated to deal with, so every time a client wants to ship an equipment or any other goods to Brazil, I have to make sure everything is done the right way, or else we can have packages stuck at customs. 

On the other hand, film permitting processes are different in the US, it has more requirements, especially in LA, and the jurisdictions are more divided between each film commission. 

NYFA: In addition to production, you’ve also written and directed some of your own short films – how has that helped you as a Production Manager?

VC: The short films that I wrote and directed were all very small productions, which means I had to wear a producer hat also at times – even if I didn’t realize it at the time. I believe that helped me to learn how to produce with little resources and how to manage what I had the best way possible and I definitely use those skills today as a Production Manager.

NYFA: Do you have any advice for incoming NYFA students?

VC: There’s a Brazilian saying that I believe summarizes working in the film industry for me. It says: “A rapadura é doce, mas não é mole não” which translates to something like “The candy is sweet, but it’s not easy to bite.”  What we do is definitely not easy. You work long hours, deal with extremely tight deadlines and budget limitations, but I really love making movies and dealing with all the moving parts of a set and once you can see the final product I can guarantee that it’s worth it.

New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA Filmmaking alum Valéria Costa for sharing more about her experience being a Production Manager and congratulates her on the latest successes of her projects; we look forward to what is next from the NYFA alum. 

Q&A with Actor, Producer, Writer, and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alum Gina Parris

NYFA MFA Acting for Film alum and Trinidad and Tobago native, Gina Parris, has had more than a decade of experience in the entertainment industry as an actress, writer, and producer. Her interest in the entertainment world began by writing poems, which then evolved into writing her own monologues that she would then perform on stage. 

During her early days as an actress in Trinidad, Parris would perform in the World Laugh Festival (2011, 2012, 2013), Yangatang Tent, Caribbean Woman (Dir. by Trinidad native Hollywood actor Sullivan Walker), Treasure Island: The Musical, and T.V series Starvey’s Angels, where she played Gaga the Witch. 

Her talents springboarded her into other creative avenues like writing screenplays and going from stage acting to acting in film and television. Since her early days in the performing arts, she has lived by the motto, “take your career into your own hands,” and it was that drive that led her to create her own production company, Gina Parris Entertainment Ltd, which will celebrate its 10th Year Anniversary this August.

New York Film Academy had the opportunity to speak with Parris about everything from her award-winning career to the many upcoming projects Parris is involved with:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): You’ve had many opportunities and had some previous training before coming to New York Film Academy. Tell us more about what brought you to study at NYFA?

Gina Parris (GP): I came to the New York Film Academy to pursue a Master’s of Fine Arts (MFA) in Acting for Film (I graduated with Honors). The school was highly recommended by one of my friends from Trinidad, who had studied at the New York campus. I ended up deciding to attend NYFA at the Los Angeles campus because I would have eventually transferred there during my last year of study, and there felt like more opportunities for film acting in LA.

Before NYFA, I received formal training in acting with Trinbago icons such as Freddie Kissoon, Raymond Choo Kong, multiple Cacique award-winner Penelope Spencer (the Cacique award is the most prestigious acting award in Trinidad and Tobago), and Talent Factory Film, founded by talent manager and CEO of Question Mark Entertainment Ltd. Simon Baptiste. I still, however, wanted a professional degree in the field, especially since I have an entertainment company named Gina Parris Entertainment Ltd. I am also a member of the group Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT). PLOTT is a prestigious group of business women that support each other.

I am currently being mentored by celebrity Lisa Wickham, a media producer-director-TV personality in Trinidad and Tobago, and also creator of The Now Morning Show, which can be found on Facebook, Instagram and TTT (Broadcast channel in Trinidad and Tobago). 

While in the U.S, I became a member of Women in Film, where I was fortunate to be mentored by Sara Scott VP, of Production and Development at Universal Studios, and Randi Richmond SVP Production at NBCUniversal.

NYFA Alum Gina Parris

NYFA: Can you tell us about your short film A Twist of Life

GP: A Twist of Life is my thesis film, as well as the first short film that I ever wrote a script for and produced. I also acted as the lead. A Twist of Life is  also part of the official 2020 selection for the Palm Bay Caribe Film Festival. 

The film is about poliomyelitis victim Avyanna Wolf, who is unable to use her hands because they became deformed as a consequence of the disease. She has the ability to draw with her feet, but further complications arise when she is taken in from being being homeless by someone who takes advantage of her.

Acting in the lead role of Avyanna was a unique experience for me. As part of my role, I wore prosthetics created by Alonso aka Al Domino. I was on an extremely low budget, therefore instead of removing the prosthetics in between takes, I kept the prosthetics on from morning, until we wrapped at night, so I literally could not use my hands. My production assistant and classmate even volunteered to pull my pants down and back up (along with my underwear of course) when I had to use the bathroom. 

I also struggled to feed myself, so one of my cast members fed me, and when I was sniffling from a cold, my friend, Joy Ellison, put a tissue by my nose and said “blow.” Joy was also kind enough to let me use her house to film and, since she is a dialect coach, helped me with my American accent. 

I had an amazing crew and the director, Shashank Varma, was excellent at executing my vision. I also had the pleasure of working alongside my amazing cast, including Trinidad actor and writer Gerry Bednob, known for films such as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Encino Man, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, amongst others. My cast also included talented NYFA alumni, including Natalie Whittle, known for films such as Much Ado About Nothing, Orbital Redux, and Speak Now. NYFA alum Chloe Paige Flowers, known for MVB Films’ Halloween Horror Stories Vol II and Public Relations. 

The film premiered at the Indie Night Film Festival in Hollywood and also screened at the Equality International Film Festival. A Twist of Life won the 2018 Excellence award from Metro Film and TV Film Festival, making me an award-winning filmmaker and my first trophy I have ever received for a film. 

In the future, I plan to develop A Twist of Life into my first feature film.

Poster for ‘A Twist of Life’

NYFA: Can you tell us about your short film Gangsters?

GP: Gangsters was the first short film I ever co-produced in the U.S. The co-creators of Gangsters are Freddie Basnight and Tiffany Lewis, who are also NYFA alum. 

I am proud of how the film project turned out, and it went on to win 12 awards across the following festivals: Mindfield Film Festival, Albuquerque, Queen Palm International Film Festival, Hollywood Guild Awards, Hollywood West Wing Film Competition, Pinnacle Film Awards, Indie Best Films Festival, LA Edge Film Awards, Hollywood Sun Awards, Hollywood Forever Film Festival, Alpha Film festival, and Dreamachine International film festival.

Poster for ‘Like a Dog With a Bone’

NYFA: Can you tell us about your latest series Like a Dog With a Bone?

GP: Like A Dog With A Bone: A Visual Guide to Surviving in the Entertainment Industry was influenced by my own homeless experience. When I moved into my car because of financial difficulties, I began filming my experience. It is an unfortunate reality that a lot of individuals become homeless while pursuing their dreams in entertainment. The series shows individuals that hit rock bottom, have experienced homelessness in the past, and those currently trying to make it in the entertainment field. 

I felt the need to create a series like this, so that other people can look at it and learn from the lives of others. Hopefully, in that way, they would not have to suffer like I did and they can use the survival skills that we implemented. 

Like A Dog With A Bone also features the following talented individuals: 

  • Ravyne Demyra Payne (actress, director, NYFA Alum): Known for her work on films such as: Moonlight Magnolia, Cover Girl, Honor Empty, and Casanova
  • Taromi Lourdes (actress and director from Trinidad and Tobago): An award-winning actress [World Wide Women’s Film Festival, Palm Bay Caribe Film Festival] and filmmaker, she has acted in films screened at Cannes, Los Angeles and London. She has also acted alongside NAACP nominee and Trinbagonian–American actor Winston Duke (Black Panther, Us).
  • Ayanna Cezann (producer, TV host, actress from Trinidad and Tobago): Ayanna is known for A Story About Wendy 1&2, ‘Til Death, and The Honest Honestest Truth.
  • Byron Knight (host, dancer, actor): Byron was also a cinematographer for The Honest Honestest Truth.
  • Louis Brown (producer, director, writer, NYFA alum): Louis is known for his work on The Lady in the Red Dress and Charleston Harbor. He has also done work on the show Black Lightning, and recently finished directing his series Forbidden Fruit.
  • Charles Parris (actor, cinematographer, director, radio host, editor from Trinidad and Tobago): Charles is another editor for Like A Dog With A Bone and is also known for his projects such as J Prince: Blood, J Prince: Turnaround and Trinity Isle, The Honest Honestest Truth, and A Twist of Life.
  • Freddie Basnight (actor, producer, director, writer, NYFA alumni): Freddie has appeared in Monster’s Club, Aftermath, Karl and Riley Parras. Freddie also enjoys creating his own content and is the co creator of the award winning short film Gangsters.
  • Errol Fabien (television/radio personality from Trinidad and Tobago): He has over 40yrs in the entertainment industry and has showed his talent in the acting and comedic arena. Errol, along with Banyan Ltd, started the first community television station named Gayelle The Channel; where he is currently the CEO, Chairman and Co- Founder.

NYFA: What other projects are you working on or do you plan to work on?

GP: Like A Dog With A Bone is currently in production and I am still looking for more funding.

The pilot for my TV series,The Honest Honestest Truth, aired on national television in Trinidad and Tobago in 2016 and 2017, and it is considered by The Guardian Newspapers as the first crime drama in T&T. As the creator, producer and writer for The Honest Honestest Truth and my first major project under my company, Gina Parris Entertainment Ltd., I plan on continuing the series. 

I was fortunate to have an amazing cast, including: Rebecca Foster (@bexfoster), who also did the posters for The Honest Honestest Truth and Like A Dog With A Bone, Kearn Samuel, Allan Ferreira, Allan Alvarez, Ayanna Cezanne, the late Brett Bengochea, Dillon Jimenez, Lester Torres, Eirnil Harry, Alister Edwards, Charles Parris and Roxanne Omalo. 

The cast also included celebrities from Trinidad and Tobago such as Errol Fabien, Allan Emmanuel aka Cyclops, and Jason Williams aka J.W. I was also honored that the first black Miss Universe, Trinidad and Tobago’s Janelle Penny Commissiong, showed her support for The Honest Honestest Truth

I will be collaborating with Jamaican born actress, producer, director and NYFA alum, Sherando Cupid, to bring Caribbean stories through film for the world to enjoy. Currently, Sherando and I are working on the film Caribbean Jew, which will be directed by Mikhail Marks and will be filmed in the U.S and Trinidad and Tobago. In addition to being one of the producers for the film, I will also be acting in it as well.

I am currently in discussions with Ms. Lesley- Ann Nelson, president of the Non-Profit Organization, Save Our Children Foundation, in Trinidad and Tobago about doing projects together to benefit children around the world. Ms. Nelson is also a member of Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT).

I will also be producing and acting in projects with Gold Piece films Inc. a production company founded by director, producer, writer and actor Andrew Lloyd Preston. I will be working with Gold Piece Films as a producer and actress for upcoming projects Brand and digital series Choices.

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work since graduating?

GP: I was fortunate that while pursuing my MFA in Acting for Film, I was taught various aspects of the film process. I applied the acting techniques editing skills and filmmaking fundamentals that I learned to my work after I graduated. These teachings also helped me while I was judging/screening films for Diversity in the Cannes Short Film and Web Series Showcase, which is supported by Oscar, Tony and Emmy award-winner Viola Davis and her husband.

NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA?

GP: Come with an open mind. Do not only learn about what you are majoring in but also learn other areas of the filmmaking process and focus on creating your own content. In the entertainment industry, you will notice that a lot of celebrities that excel do not only focus on one entertainment discipline. People take up various roles in the entertainment industry in order for their talent to be showcased. 

Do not depend on someone else to make your dreams become a reality; take your career into your own hands.

New York Film Academy thanks actress, producer, writer, and NYFA alum Gina Parris for taking the time to speak with us and wishes her success in the near future as her career continues!

To keep up with NYFA alum Gina Parris, take a look at her social/contact links below:
Instagram: @gina_parris
Instagram (Like A Dog With A Bone): @likeadogwitha
Website (The Honest Honestest Truth):