I think what makes NYFA unique is that we are the most hands-on film school in the world, and that we have an incredibly diverse student body from over 100 countries. While theory is important, our students accumulate an enormous amount of practical hours learning by doing, failing, processing, adjusting, re-adjusting, and ultimately excelling as actors in front of the camera.
Also, all departments have an opportunity to collaborate with each other. So, student actors are forming relationships with filmmakers, screenwriters, and producers that hopefully will last throughout their careers.
The Acting for Film Program at NYFA is unique because each actor learns the art of lighting a scene, how to edit, and the importance of performing in different shot sizes from the director’s point of view. These skills are extremely useful for an actor who wants to perform specifically in film or television. It is vital for a film actor to understand the craft of editing and how to use the camera affectively to capture their performance. Students will demonstrate these necessary skills upon graduation.
Having such a diverse student population is a valuable asset that gives each actor a global perspective on what they are saying as artists. All students must participate in the creation process, and the varying points of view from our student body, enhances the final product.
I am extremely proud of my team on a daily basis. What our faculty, students, teaching assistants, and administration accomplish is truly remarkable. Due to the fact that NYFA faculty is comprised of working professionals, everyone understands how important discipline and communication are to create a successful film. The beauty of making a film is when all artists involved know their specific role, and the ensemble of actors and creative technicians become greater than the individual.
One specific memory that I am particularly proud of was last summer at NYFA in Florence, Italy. I had a team of eight actors and a crew of three that shot three beautiful scenes in one day. We had to move locations for every scene, and that became a huge challenge.
All the actors were prepared with their text work, lines, and blocking, while the crew were focused, efficient, and brilliant under the time constraints. It was hot, and it would have been very easy to get stressed and discouraged in this situation, but the opposite happened. I witnessed a group of young professionals demonstrate all the skills that they had developed during the four week program, breathe together, and function as a company of visual storytellers.
Everyone remained relaxed, determined, and continued to have a sense of play. As I called the final cut on the final take of the scene, I realized that together we had created something special and original.