veterans

Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting Student Jacob McFadden

New York Film Academy (NYFA) Screenwriting student Jacob McFadden is a military veteran with many talents. McFadden has studied acting, music, and now studying screenwriting at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus. On top of all that, McFadden has also published a book on soul scales in jazz music.

Jacob McFadden

NYFA spoke with McFadden about the book, which is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other bookstores worldwide:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Jacob McFadden (JM): I’m originally from San Antonio, Texas, and what brought me to New York Film Academy was that one day I was twirling my thumbs at work, and I asked myself what is the next step in my life is going to be… and lo and behold film school popped in my head. Next, I started researching film schools and NYFA popped up. Since NYFA has a veterans program, it was perfect because I can use my GI Bill to pay for school and live in LA.

NYFA: Why have you decided to focus on screenwriting?

JM: I decided to focus on screenwriting because I want to act in the movies that write. I feel that taking the 1-Year Screenwriting conservatory will give me the opportunity to hone my script writing skills and learn about the business of screenwriting. I also want to enter film festivals. 

NYFA: Can you tell us about your book The Hexatonic Soul Scale

JM: My book The Hexatonic Soul Scale is about a scale that novice jazz musicians–or any level of jazz musicians for that matter–can use to create soulful solos. My book also talks about mastering the art of circular breathing. This isn’t a long-winded book either, because I don’t want to waste the reader’s time by rehashing a lot of material that’s already out.

NYFA: What inspired you to make The Hexatonic Soul Scale?

JM: The inspiration to make The Hexatonic Soul Scale came from experimentation during one of my piano practice sessions. After I made the discovery, I decided to write a book about it since I’ve never written a book before. 

Jacob McFadden Hexatonic Soul Scale

New York Film Academy thanks Screenwriting student Jacob McFadden for taking the time to speak to us about his book. The Hexatonic Soul Scale is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other bookstores worldwide. 

Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism and Documentary Filmmaking Alum Clyde Gunter

US Navy Veteran and recent New York FIlm Academy (NYFA) Broadcast Journalism and Documentary Filmmaking graduate Clyde Gunter is starting a 13-month paid, full-time Leadership, Exploration and Development Program next month at ESPN. While there, Clyde will spend time assigned to various departments across the company, learning the ins and outs of the sports media giant and, at the conclusion, he will be given an opportunity to join the ESPN staff full time.

New York Film Academy spoke with Clyde about his experience at NYFA, where his inspiration comes from, and what he has planned for his new position and beyond:

Clyde Gunter

NYFA alum Clyde Gunter

New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Clyde Gunter (CG): I’m a 27-year-old multimedia journalist with a strong interest in producing content in the documentary format. I was born and raised in Southern Virginia. At the age of 19, I enlisted in the United States Navy where I served five years of active duty, working in operations intelligence and planning and tactics. My first three years were served in Nagasaki, Japan, and my final two years were spent in sunny San Diego, California. 

While enlisted, I developed an interest in still photography which led me to want to study the art form. However, because freelance photography didn’t seem financially viable, I decided to explore another interest of mine, video journalism, which led me to the Broadcast Journalism program at New York Film Academy. 

NYFA: What inspired you to study both Documentary Filmmaking and Broadcast Journalism?

CG: I was initially inspired to study Broadcast Journalism by the personalities and journalists in black media, specifically a journalist who worked in front and behind the camera for Complex networks. I said to myself, “That’s something I want to do with my perspective of my culture and our music,” so I researched their backgrounds and saw that they all studied journalism or communications. So I came to NYFA to gain the skills necessary to do what they do. 

As for Documentary Filmmaking, I was recommended by my editing teacher to consider expanding my abilities and further develop my narrative knowledge through the NYFA Documentary program. This decision really helped me strengthen my sense of storytelling  and understand what it takes to produce truly compelling work. 

NYFA: Can you tell us about your new position at ESPN Next and what the process was like in being selected for the program? 

CG: Through my new position at ESPN, I will be working as a production assistant and will have the opportunity to spend two six-month rotations working in two of six production areas: College Sports, Daytime Entertainment, Sportscenter @ Night, NFL, Live Events, and ESPN International & Deportes. The process consisted of three separate interviews: a phone interview, sports highlight assessment and a “Talent Day” that required me to visit ESPN’s main campus in Bristol, Connecticut and meet with a group of HR managers and ESPN employees. 

NYFA: What are your goals within your next position, and what’s next?

CG: My goals while I’m in this new position include excelling at the basics of my job requirements while diversifying myself as a veteran and employee of color that mentors fellow employees (vets and non-vets). I also plan on helping to organize initiatives within my respective employee resource groups within the company. 

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

CG: I’m working on further developing and producing a feature-length documentary, along with a limited television docuseries that centers on the racial bias and injustice that America’s black veterans have faced, dating back to our country’s first fully integrated war with the Vietnam War.

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you are applying or plan to apply directly to your work at ESPN Next, or your work in general?

CG: My deepened understanding of story and the key components that form a good story is something that NYFA instilled in me that I will continue to grow and take with me as I contribute to storytelling at ESPN. 

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

CG: A word of advice I have for NYFA students is to remain extremely focused and ambitious during what will undoubtedly be the most jam-packed, year-round educational experience you’ll ever have. Persistence and constant discipline are vital if you want to walk away feeling rewarded by your work at the year’s end.

5 Actors We Bet You Didn’t Know Were Military Veterans

100720-N-4930E-578 WASHINGTON (July 20, 2010) Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick West, second from right, joins Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class Cassandra L. Foote, left, Chief of Naval Operations Sailor of the Year; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Shalanda Brewer, Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ingrid Cortez, Fleet Forces Sailor of the Year and Operation Specialist 1st Class Samira McBride U.S., Pacific Sailor of the Year, in saluting the American flag to kick off a night of entertainment provided by the U.S. Navy ceremonial guard and Navy Band at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Abraham Essenmacher/Released)

Elvis Presley. Clint Eastwood. Charlton Heston.

These may be the first few names that spring to mind when you think of famous actors who served in the military, but it goes without saying that there are many, many more … a lot of whom you probably never knew were veterans in the first place!

In celebration of Veterans Day, we rounded up a list of six surprising and inspirational stories of actors that you probably didn’t know were also veterans.

1. Leonard Nimoy

2Nimoy

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1953-1955

Although known in legacy primarily for his portrayal of Spock in “Star Trek,” the road to sci-fi stardom was a winding one for the late, great Leonard Nimoy. He appeared in a huge number of B-movies and TV shows as a supporting actor before landing the role that would make him an intergalactic name. Before this career-defining role, Nimoy supported himself selling vacuum cleaners, working in an ice cream parlor, driving a cab, and serving in the Army Special Reserves.

Nimoy was in good company on the set of “Star Trek,” because one of his costars was also a veteran…

2. James Earl Jones

jamesearljones1JEJ

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1953-1955

Shortly before embarking on his 60-year career in film (having decided he wasn’t cut out to be a doctor), the voice of Vader had joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps.When the Korean War broke out, Jones was commissioned to establish a cold weather training command in Colorado. He reportedly both enjoyed the assignment, and excelled at it.

We like to imagine the military spent most of this period trying to figure out how to weaponize his voice.

3. Morgan Freeman

4Morgan

Rank: Airman 1st Class

Years Served: 1955-1959

Freeman’s acting career began at the young age of nine, and he came out of the gate swinging with a string of drama competition wins and lead performances in plays. It was enough to attract a partial drama scholarship at Jackson State University, but he curiously turned it down to instead enlist in the U.S. Air Force as a radar repairman.

Like James Earl Jones, we can safely assume that the military tried and failed to weaponize Freeman’s dulcet tones. After four years of service, he returned to acting and the rest, as they say, is history.

4. Bea Arthur

5Bea

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1943-1945

Strangely, the “Golden Girls” star flatly denied ever having served in the military multiple times over the course of her life, and often acted baffled whenever the rumor was brought up in interviews.

Whatever the reason for the denial, military records later revealed that Arthur did indeed serve for 30 months in the Marine Corps, first as a typist and then later as a truck driver.

Arthur is also the only female veteran-turned-acting-celebrity that we found. If you know of more, please tell us in the comments below!

6. Jimmy Stewart

6Stewart

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served: 1941-1968

One of America’s most-loved golden era actors is also the highest ranking actor in military history. Jimmy Stewart was an exceptionally accomplished pilot, and he also established a pilot training school that is estimated to have trained over 10,000 pilots during World War II!

Stewart refused any publicity attracted to him due to his heroic war efforts, flew uncredited in numerous bombing missions deep in Nazi Germany, and often went out of his way to make sure he was involved in highly dangerous active combat (few commanding officers wanted to put the A-list actor in harm’s way, and Stewart was often relegated to desk assignments).

Somewhat understandably, after nearly three decades of service very few of his chosen film roles had anything to do with war or military themes.

In honor of Veterans Day and all those who have served our country: You’re all heroes to us, and the New York Film Academy offers our heartfelt gratitude.

081108-N-5549O-035 MILWAUKEE (Nov. 8, 2008) Ship's Navigator Lt. j.g. Shaina Hayden renders honors to the national anthem during the commissioning ceremony for the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) at Veterans Park in Milwaukee, Wis. Freedom is the first of two littoral combat ships designed to operate in shallow water environments to counter threats in coastal regions. (U. S. Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kevin S. O'Brien/Released)