The New York Film Academy is a film school with a global outlook on its teaching. Students from all over the world come to study at NYFA, giving it an intriguingly multicultural atmosphere – alumni include Bollywood superstar Imran Khan and Nollywood heroine Stephanie Okereke, for instance, as well as players in the US’ own film and TV industries. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, and Jodie Foster are among the many figures in the film industry who have sent their family members to study at the New York Film Academy.
But the Academy’s diverse student body isn’t its only contribution to international relations.
NYFA has recently wrapped up a ‘mission to Brazil’, during which it accompanied 65 other US colleges and universities on a tour of the world’s sixth largest economy. The tour took them to Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in an effort to unearth untapped international talent.
“I was amazed at the level of talent and enthusiasm that I found in Brazil the last time we went,” said Director of Acting Admissions, Roger Del Pozo. ”Everyone was passionate and ready to advance to the next level.”
The next stop on NYFA’s tour of South America is Ecuador, before they move through Venezuela and Columbia, looking for the best acting, directing and production talent each country has to offer.
Meanwhile, in Italy, NYFA has set up a teaching programme in Florence, in association with the government of Tuscany. Students can enroll for a year or a semester, studying in a renovated Renaissance building across the street from La Cappella Medici. The aim of the programme is to deepen students’ ‘understanding of and connection to Italy through the creative process of filmmaking and acting for film’.
This lofty aim is achieved through immersion: filmmakers will have to work closely with locals, having their work shaped around Italian culture and mores – all set in amongst fabulous Florentine architecture, which works so well on film. Students will also learn Italian as they study, and, as an added bonus, will receive a free Vespa on which to travel the country!
Italy isn’t NYFA’s only point of European outreach. In May this year they toured London and Paris. Says Del Pozo: “We decided to come back because of the level of talent and the extraordinary interest in the New York Film Academy. I am always looking for the best possible talent for our programs and I consistently find some of the most incredibly motivated, serious, hard-working artists in London and Paris.”
What’s so important about the USA for aspiring actors? “The simple fact is that NY and LA are the centres of the film and theatre business in the US,” says Del Pozo. “So many artists from all over the world are eager to study and work in those locations. The sheer amount of exposure to amazing teachers, creative opportunities and intensive training that students receive at the New York Film Academy is very appealing to international students.”
Back in NYC, there’s no one better than Brit Lucy Reevely as an example of NYFA’s global outlook. She travelled to New York specifically to study at the Academy, which she believes has the perfect balance of freedom and direction: “No judgment, just guidance.”
She loves the cosmopolitan nature of the student body, too, because it expands the horizons of her own art. “What you create as an artist is what you experience,” she says. “Working with people from all over the world, it’s definitely broadened my views on the world and my ability to adapt to another’s perspective.
“When you’re far from home, it forces you to grow. London’s industry is filled with soaps. If you want to work on features and original screenplays, come to New York.”
The New York Film Academy can be found online here