New York Film Academy offers a four-week workshop that teaches Spielberg wannabes how to write, shoot, direct and edit (Photo credit: nyfa.com)
Ever since I was little, it’s been a dream of mine… I always wanted to become a famous filmmaker. Calling the shots, directing the crew and strolling down the red carpet at Cannes with the likes of James Cameron and Quentin Tarantino.
Instead of signing up for four years of filmmaking school, I hunted on-line for an intensive film course that would teach me the craft, quickly. New York Film Academy offers a four-week workshop that teaches Spielberg wannabes how to write, shoot, direct and edit. Their programs are all over the world, from Paris to Milan, London to Seoul, Tokyo, Florence and Shanghai. www.nyfa.com
I paid my tuition, packed my things and flew down to NYFA’s Los Angeles school, located near the Universal Studios lot.
The Hollywood scene was a mix of glitz and grit. A city of three S’s: schmooze, smog and silicone. It’s not the most welcoming for newcomers, but L.A is the industry hub and is one of the best places in the world to learn the biz.
A typical day at the New York Film Academy is divided into lectures and workshops. There I was, sitting in a classroom with a dozen other young hopefuls, taking copious notes about the art of screenwriting. Mostly 20-somethings from all over North America and Europe, fellow students were serious about filmmaking.
Over the month, our teacher worked through the curriculum. He broke down the elements of a good story and taught us how to write a three act structure. We learned the mechanics of a 16 mm black and white camera, experimented with shot composition, cast actors and directed our own crew. The course was intensive. After classes, workshops, individual projects and group work, there wasn’t much time left for anything else.
Some days, we’d step out of the classrooms and onto the Universal Studio back lots. It was pretty cool strolling around the Cabot Cove set from Angela Lansbury’s Murder She Wrote and Pyscho’s creepy Bates Motel.
My first short film was shot on a Western film set. Picture saloons, spurs and tumbleweeds; actors dressed as cowboys, saying the word ‘partner’ a lot. Add a little sepia effect in Final Cut Pro and voilà, my first Western.
On this day, I was in charge of lighting the scene. I knew how to use a light meter to gage how much light hit the surface, but I had a hard time properly exposing the scene. Since we’re dealing with 16mm film, lighting was far more complicated than a digital point-and-shoot camera. F stop became my nemesis. I thought I’d grasped the concept, but, after the film was processed, I discovered that the entire scene wasn’t lit properly. The film came out completely black.
Slowly, I got the hang of it but one thing was for sure – there’d be no Academy Awards in my future. Though playing movie mogul was fun, I think I’ll stick to travel writing and leave the red carpet to Steven Spielberg.
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