Michael Neelsen, a graduate of the One-Year Filmmaking program at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus, has found success with a boutique video agency he started with his father in 2009. With a presence in Chicago, Los Angeles, Madison, and Austin, StoryFirst Media produces web content, television commercials, and feature films, with a strong emphasis on dynamic storytelling. Michael says, “Lots of branded content never utilizes storytelling tropes, but we at StoryFirst always try to push our clients one step further out of their comfort zone and into the powerful realm of cinematic storytelling.”
Michael put his storytelling skills to work when he directed, produced, and edited the 2012 sports documentary, Last Day at Lambeau. It explores the love/hate relationship fans have with former Packers quarterback, Brett Favre, culminating with Favre’s final game at Lambeau Field in 2010. The doc was a hit at film festivals in Austin, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.
After hearing about New York Film Academy from a close friend who had attended a summer program, Michael flew to the school’s Los Angeles campus for the One-Year Filmmaking course. The intensive course emphasizes education in cinematography, directing, screenwriting, producing, and editing. By the end of the year, students write, shoot, direct, and edit eight of their own short films. Michael says, “The number one thing that my experience at NYFA taught me was how easy it was to make a movie if you have the right people and resources around you.”
Michael has numerous projects in the works, and looks forward to working on a feature film and documentary in the coming year. He is also developing a presentation on cinematic storytelling for brands that he will be premiering at conferences this year.