Staff Member Spotlight: Peter Allen Stone

Title
Associate Chair of Acting for Film NYFA, New York/Taught Acting at NYFA

Photos

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory was last summer when I arrived at the Santa Maria Novella train station in the city center of Florence, Italy. There is a wonderful energy in that beautiful city that is unlike any other place.

I took the train from Rome to Florence, and as I walked through the bustling streets, I began to feel a sense of excitement and anticipation. I knew that within twenty-four hours I would be completely immersed in training a group of actors from all over the world that would provide me the opportunity to educate, learn, and grow all summer.

Our students often come from different countries with varying backgrounds, but there is always one common thread that unites them; they’re driven to tell stories that are truthful and important them.

I live for these fulfilling moments. I love the craft of acting for film, and nothing makes me happier than passing on what I have learned to the next generation of film actors.

Teaching acting for film in Florence, Italy is a very unique experience. The city is absolutely stunning, and it feels that you are constantly walking around on a Hollywood film set. It’s a special privilege to shoot a scene in front of the Duomo, at Piazza Santa Maria Novella, or on the historic Ponte Vecchio.

Teaching at NYFA Florence has been an experience that I cherish and never take for granted. I have taught many outstanding students in the summer program, and it is there passion, desire, and creative impulse that inspire me.

How have you changed or grown since working at NYFA?

Working at the New York Film Academy has positively changed my life more than I could have ever imagined. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to train incredibly gifted actors from around the world and help them combine solid foundational acting technique with their individual talents.

It gives me great satisfaction to witness the progress and journey of each student from the first day of their study to their final screenings at the graduation. The countless students that have poured their hearts and souls into revealing the truth of a character has inspired me to ask new questions about myself and the world that we inhabit.

In addition, NYFA’s faculty is composed of working professionals in their particular field, and collaboration amongst our instructors is a key component to the overall success of our school. I have learned a tremendous amount and grown as an artist by the influence from fellow faculty who are professional directors, cinematographers, screenwriters, editors, actors, and producers. The art of visual storytelling is a team effort and the more educated an actor is in all disciplines of the art form, the stronger the final performance will become.

It’s so important for an actor to understand the art of editing and how to use the camera affectively to capture their performance. My work as an artist has expanded and continues to evolve due to the talented students, faculty, and administration at the New York Film Academy.

What’s the best story you have heard from a return/former student?

I have heard so many wonderful updates from my pool of students over the years of teaching at the New York Film Academy that it is challenging to single out one specific moment or story.

I think what makes me most happy is when I get emails from former students about how their time studying at NYFA has made them a better person. The classes are an education in the craft of acting, but also, the training has sharpened their point of view about what is truly meaningful to them in their lives.

The nature of studying acting is about communicating truthful stories, but in that process, there is a lot of self-discovery that happens for the actor. The three things that I always tell students that I want them to take away from the training are: to have fun with the process of sharing and exploring different sides of their emotional make-up while creating truthful characters, discover new things about themselves, and to graduate a better actor with strong technique than when they walked in the door.

I have former students performing on Broadway, US Films and TV series, National Commercials, and on major productions in their respective countries. It is rewarding to hear the stories of how their time at NYFA has led them to successful careers back home.

When I think of former students, one particular story comes to mind. This summer I was attending the legendary Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. I sat down to watch a new film starring James Franco and Christian Slater and a few minutes into the film, one of my former students appeared on the screen in a major role.

For the next two hours I witnessed him thriving with some of the best and most experienced in the business. That same student is currently playing John Travolta’s son in a feature film being shot in NYC.

Seeing this student on the big screen filled me with so much happiness that night in the theatre. It didn’t happen over night, but his talent, training, and persistence led him to the career he has created. Student success and knowing that NYFA played a role in their development, continues to fulfill me.

What makes NYFA unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

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.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in making NYFA successful?

I think what makes NYFA successful is the fact that our approach is a total immersion of hands on training combined with students being led by working professionals.

In all art forms technique is essential, but the real artistry happens when the technique begins to become invisible. In order for this to occur, the actor must complete numerous hours of practice under the supervision of a teacher with a vast amount of professional experience.

It is wonderful when our instructors use examples from their professional lives to illustrate a teaching moment. One thing I can assure you, is that at the New York Film Academy everyone has a passion to create and tell visual stories.