Each summer, teens and tweens flock to the Los Angeles campus of the New York Film Academy to learn the basics of filmmaking. No matter which program a student elects to take, one of the highlights is always getting to shoot a short film on the Universal Studios Backlot.
These projects range from mise-en-scene to continuity exercises, montages, and short films. All of the one-week students go to the lot once during their time at camp. Students participating in the three-week, four-week, and six-week programs go to the lot every week they are here.
On their scheduled shoot days on the Universal Studios Backlot, summer camp students spend all day on the lot — from nine in the morning to five at night. After their full day on the backlot, students take their footage and edit it the next day of class. Then, campers screen their films in front of parents and friends at a special final screening at the end of their course.
Since the students are working with professional equipment and on a real set, the responsibilities are huge. Even though this is a learning experience for all of the students and we have instructors and teaching assistants supervising the campers, students are completely responsible for making sure they get every shot they need. Campers learn to plan every angle to get enough coverage, make sure the light is right, direct their actors to hit their marks, and more.
In class, directing instructors and camera instructors cover the different professional crew positions responsibilities, including how to properly handle equipment. Classes go over safety rules regarding equipment and safety rules regarding the backlot.
On the last day of their program, students screen their films for invited guests in the Riverside Theatre at NYFA.
Speaking about what the opportunity to shoot on a backlot means to the campers, Program Director Ale Salinas said, “The students at the NYFA camps in LA have the opportunity to learn their craft while shooting in places where movies like ‘Back to the Future’ or ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ were shot, and I think this is an amazing opportunity.”
She continued, “It doesn’t matter what program the students are taking, whether it’s photography, acting, filmmaking, screenwriting, 3D animation, music video or game design. They’ll all go to the backlot and experience what is like to walk through a real outdoor set!”
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate our campers on helping to ensure a productive and safe set environment.