Oddly enough, after researching all the best film and acting schools world-wide, what closed the deal for me was a very beautiful musical student film I’d fallen in love with on the New York Film Academy website. If NYFA could do that, then that was where I wanted to go. I’ll never forget the first day on the Universal Studios backlot with a screen-test, headshots and then an Improv class. School registration was never like that before. Within a few weeks the coursework was consuming. For me NYFA was an overhaul of workshops and acting classes I had accumulated over the years. We started with the basics, learning all the diverging methods, from Shakespeare to Stanislavski to Meisner. And we were on our feet, with Improv, Speech, Movement, and production workshops, trying out all the techniques. As soon as we had film footage, editing and post production was added. Every class included one-on-one tutoring.
Within several months we were in advanced stunts, ADR recording, and writing and filming directly with professional staff, many of whom were in-between other film projects. Pushing my own limits, I “ate it” a lot at NYFA, and I sometimes had to remind myself that I was there to grow out of bad habits. The dizzying myriad of Acting Workshops in this town all advertise exposure, so I didn’t feel safe experimenting in those things. I wanted to try it all, and I didn’t want repercussion if I learned that something doesn’t work. And I wanted to get past a certain point with acting training, which would require some dedication. It took some courage too. One thing that I was really impressed with was how supportive the teachers were, and how reliable their direction was. I know I wasn’t an easy student to have in class. I challenged everything.
The visiting artist screenings are one of the best things. While I was there guest speakers included Elliot Gould, Henry Winkler, Richard Dreyfuss, Steven Spielberg and many other icons – very exclusive. It wasn’t just a thrill, but a real way to learn intimately from the best. In no time, the thesis was upon us starting in the 3rd semester. Access to the Universal Studios was unbelievable. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking through that gate and going up and down the many stories of props and wardrobe that I’d seen in the movies. I was right there alongside professional TV and Film costumers and set designers. Even though I was in the Acting Department, the program provided full access to the film-making resources. Several of us chose to produce and act in our own films as a thesis. Since graduation I’ve noticed better esteem at auditions and much more confidence on the set. Within a month after NYFA I began to get opportunities. One producer told me he watched my whole academic 10 minute reel on YouTube during casting. I’ve been offered film acting roles and crew jobs (probably not something you’ll get from going to a traditional acting school).
Who can say what dreams may come, but the New York Film Academy improved my odds.