A 12-year-old girl crouches into a corner in an alley, talking on a cellphone. The tone of her voice, her body language and her facial expressions convey distress.
Nearby, another girl holds a boom microphone over her as other 10- to 13-year-olds look on. The filming stops, and instructor Suzanne Kent's voice rises over the students' chatter as she tells the actress to come out and face the camera.
“That's gorgeous,” Kent says, and another take begins.
On a recent Friday, about 250 tweens, teens and adults aspiring to act or make movies were spread out across the back lot of Universal Studios, cameras in hand, directing, rehearsing and filming. The girl crouched in the alley was Sarah Lee — who normally directs — playing the part of a captured American soldier who was talking with a CIA agent.
Sarah and the others in her group are part of the New York Film Academy's two-week summer workshop for tweens. Workshops take place throughout the summer, said Benjamin Morgan, who has overseen the summer workshops for 15 years.