New York Film Academy

Is film school worth it? I'm taking the plunge to find out.

Location: studio city, ca

Aspiring film-maker...

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Alright, I've had the worst luck with my internet, but finally managed to get it up now. NYFA (or knife-ah, as we students pronounce it), has been fantastic. I've learned so much shit in so little times it's crazy, I'm loving it. I'll give a quick analysis on what I've been doing so far...

From 9-11 we had a orientation about the school and whatnot, they took us on a little tour. The school is very nice, up above our main area is Focus Features office, they produced some films like Eternal Sunshine and Garden State. Tons of editing computers (about 100 I think, all with Final Cut Pro HD). From about 11-2, we met our directing teacher, he gave us the rundown on Film Language, split us into crews of 4 and got us prepared for our first short. Then from about 3-6, we met our cinematography teacher, who introduced us to our cameras (16mm arriflex), got us working on lens, film stock, loading etc. We learned alot of shit in one day. At 6pm we left.

Day 2
Class started at 9pm. We got on a shuttle and it drove us to Universal, were we got our badges. The coolest part is...we got our badges on the War of the Worlds pre-production set, I shit you not! The new Spielberg movie, that made my fucking day. I didn't see ole Steven, but to be on the set waiting for Universal badges while watching some PAs testing explosions and spaceships kicked my ass. About 10pm we got back to the school, and had cinematography class, we learned basics like taking light readings, and the importance of lighting. 2pm came along and we had our producing class, they talked about logistics of our productions and whatnot. Then from 5-9 we had our screenwriting class. Most of the things I already knew because I love screenwriting and know most of the logistics...most. Long day, 9-9. Loving it.

Day 3
Class started at 9. We took our little shuttle back to the Universal lot (which is literally 2 minutes away driving from NYFA school, but we have to use shuttle) to do some camera testing. They gave each group equipment and we did some simple testing and learned more hands on about shooting on film and blocking shadows etc etc. We got to choose what sets we wanted to shoot on, I choose the set in Minority Report, when Cruises character is on the jetpacks, and he fights his ex-team in a alleyway. We stopped about 1pm, ate lunch...then at 2-6pm, they taught us more about lighting and how important it is for various scenes. I love how the teachers preach to us about how there is no "right" or "wrong" way to shoot a film, but it better make sense to your selective audience. We learned 3 way lighting, which is lighting Key, Fill and Back, then ratios on soft/hard light.

Day 4
9pm class started. We had our directing teacher, he elaborated on film storytelling and then we as a class discussed our stories for our first film (we go to school mon-fri and shoot on weekends....every weekend...). That lasted to around 1pm, then we had lunch and came back around 2:30pm. At 2:30 we had our editing teacher, this was non-hands on and basically consisted of theory/continuity. We pretty much watched a shit load of movie clips with good editing and bad editing...then he stressed to us the important of music editing, and showed us clips of fight scenes, chase scenes, horror scenes with no music. The editing class may not have sound like it was informal, but it was...I'm just not gonna type every detail, I'll be here forever.

Day 5
9-12pm. We had a 'directing actors' class. Which was teaching us how actors think, how we should prep them...etc. It was friday, so NYFA staff decided to take the filmmaking students to lunch. So from 11:30-2pm, we got to eat at a nice restaurant that's part of the Universal Lot. Were producers, actors, crew etc on more bigger budget movies to go to eat and discuss business. Everyone was excited, we saw a few stars, all of who were at meetings pretty much. Security told us boldy "don't act like little girls...the actors are here for business, and they expect people at the restaurant to not talk to them and ask for autographs as if they were in more of a public setting", which is cool, I can understand that. We saw Jon Voight, Claire Danes, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller. I'm not sure what Voight and Danes was working on, but it was mentioned that Stiller was doing some producing for Meet The Fockers (it's done shooting), and Sandler was doing something for a movie called The Longest Yard...I think. 2:00 came around and told us that they trying to get the director of 'Saw' to come and talk to us for inspiration in a few weeks, which is cool. From 2-5pm we watched our camera testing that we did the two days before, did more practice for lighting. We then checked out our equipment for the weekend....

Damn I've been writing alot. We have a group of four for now. There is about 60 filmmaking students, and 100 on the acting side. They split the filmmakers in sections of 4 (a,b,c,d), then for our shooting crews they made us in group of 4. Which is all we need...for now. So we shot four short films over the weekend. I will explain our first film and it's outline. They want to teach us the visual side of telling a story, so our assignment was to make a 1 minute film, with no cutting (mise-en scene), black and white and no dialogue. The first film we shot was Joe's, his was about a guy who gets dumped by a girl. I was the gaffer for that shoot, which meant I set up the camera and lights to where the DP (director of photography/cinematography) wanted and...thats it, haha. We shot that film after we got out of school that friday, it took us about 3hrs, shit takes longer then it seems to create a 1 minute film. Saturday we only shot one film, I was the DP this time. The director tells me how he (she in this case) wanted the film to look...then I go and set up the lights in the proper way, and I shoot it. Sunday we shot my film, which was about a blind man who cons a guy and steals his car. I shot it in public and it caused lots of attention. I shot it on Melrose, during the afternoon, bad idea...way to many people. Everyone kind of circled our crew and watched, it was uncomfortable, but after we was done they clapped, which made me feel better. Last short we filmed that night, I was AC (camera assistant), that means I load the film...I check speed when DP calls "camera rolling", and make sure our battery doesn't run out. I got home that Sunday night around started at 8:30...

Day 6
8:30 classes started. We had our screenwriting class until about 1pm. Lunch. 2pm-5pm we had HANDS ON editing this time...not just watching movie clips. Our teachers are awesome, I feel like I'm an expert at Final Cut Pro HD, haha. We did that for 3hrs then went home. I played Fable on Xbox...random I know, but that game kicks ass...

Day 7
10am class started. More hands on lighting, we learned more about lighting for 'real lights'. Meaning, in movies when you see a scene in a room and there are tons of lights like...lamps, or chandelliers, those lights may be on...but you still got to use movie lights to make it look "normal". I hope I explained that right. That ended about 12, and we had a 2 hour lunch. 2-5 we had more directing actors class. Then from 5-8 the filmmaking side got to do something very as the acting side of the school auditioned for us. There was about 8 directors per room, then every 20 minutes they would rotate about 10-12 actors and we would make them do various things for us. I've never seen so many people shaken and scared. After that, we all (filmmakers..actors) got the talking and I talked to specific ones for my thesis film. So that lasted until about school should be over with right..? Haha, hell no. We had to edit our film we shot over the weekend tonight also, that didn't take long because it was a mise-en scene film, aka one shot. I got home about 9pm.

So that's it so far. NYFA is great, I'm happy I decided to come here, everyone is fucking awesome, the students...faculty. There are a few who think they're hot shit, but oh well. Some of the women on the acting side is absolutely gorgeous, I'm gonna talk to a certain three on Thursday for my thesis film. Tomorrow, Day 8 we have a producing class..directors craft class and concepts of editing class. Thursday we get to shoot on the Spartacus (Kubrick) set.

Since I got the internet back I'll update everyday.