September 2011, I walked down Pass, took a right on Barham, stopped and stared in amazement at Warner Brothers (the staring thing happened every day for about a year), continued a couple blocks, stepped into the “red building” and stumbled, awkwardly into the first class of my MFA Screenwriting Program, “Elements of Screenwriting”. Crickett Rumley, the instructor, who along with teaching me so many things, was the first educator to point out in a positive way that I am funny.
Recently, I took a similar walk with a few different directions here and there and stumbled into the new NYFA campus. In the years since I graduated, NYFA has moved, expanded and grown into herself. This is something I feel that the Academy and I have in common. With these many improvements at NYFA, one thing will always remain. That is the dedication of the faculty to cultivate the creativity of their students.
I sat down with Eric Conner, who taught me everything I know about Writing for Television. If I were to say that to him verbally right now, he would say something very humble and probably funny. He is one of the best, most patient and kindest humans I have ever had the luxury of learning from. I appreciate the opportunity to step back into those walls seeping with knowledge, these years later, and talk to a room of students interested in the pursuit of stand-up comedy. (Before I answered their questions – they were required to watch a 30-minute set. Cue Evil Laugh.) I was so impressed by these students and a little jealous that they are currently having the experience that I now look back on so fondly.
I was reminded of meetings with Adam Finer, as I tried to write my first ever acting cover letter, understand my first contract, and figure out what was next after graduation. “Adam! What am I going to do with my life!?!” With Dan Kay as my guide, I was inspired by the Great Screenplays. The workshops… I could go on and on about everything I learned in those workshops. Crickett, Eric, Nunzio, the entire faculty molded us. Sure, I learned structure. I learned about character types, arcs and the elements. So much more important than any of that, I learned to listen, but not just listen to the words. Listen to what a classmate was attempting to create even if it wasn’t apparent on the page. I learned to find my voice and help others find theirs. This is something I get to pass on to my stand-up students. This is something that I hope they continue to pass on.
New York Film Academy not only prepared me for an industry career, NYFA held my hand as I grew into me.
Thank you, New York Film Academy!
Best wishes to the faculty, alumni and all of your current students!
Click HERE for the NYFA Q&A.