film schools
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  • Evelyne Binsack: Defeating Mt. Everest and Reaching New Heights

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    Evelyne Binsack Rock ClimbingDocumentary student Evelyne Binsack was already a celebrity before attending New York Film Academy. In 2001, she became the first Swiss woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. She also spent four months crossing Antarctica to reach the South Pole. She is the author of Expedition Antarctica and Steps on the Edge, and has been featured in a number of documentaries about her adventures. She speaks 3 languages and is also a helicopter pilot. Until our interview, she didn’t know that she had been named as Switzerland’s fourth most famous person – not bad, considering the poll included musicians, politicians, and movie stars!

    Evelyne said she discovered her love of the outdoors in her native Switzerland. “A friend of mine took me to the mountains near home. I fell in love and thought that’s what I want to do: [be] outdoors having adventures.” At the time, Evelyne was a runner competing in the 800 and 1500-meter dash. “That was something very different — fighting against each other. In mountaineering, you’re fighting together. You can’t fight against each other. That’s something that impressed me, the contrast.”

    Evelyne found New York Film Academy’s 1-Year Documentary Filmmaking program years later. “I was Googling in Europe,” she said. “Everything was three years for film programs, or… [very short] crash courses. What can you learn in one week? I decided to come here. I really enjoy the program… but as a country girl, it’s [hard] being in the city. Here, people live for the weekends, and Monday they feel like [crap]. Friends in my country don’t have this attitude. Most of my friends do what they love. They risked things to do what they love and they’re more happy. To see that people are just working for money, it hurts somehow. Take more risks and be passionate for what you do!”

    Despite the urban setting, Evelyne says she has already learned a lot in her first few months of school. “[Documentary instructors] Wendy Apple and Reuben Aaronson are great. They’re all fabulous. They have [a lot of] experience and it’s great to listen to them!” she said. She has already been putting her new knowledge to work as well. She explains, “I’ve been giving [lectures] for 10 years, and that’s how I make my income, but I didn’t know why some stories [wouldn’t] work. For my speeches it’s very helpful to know about structure and character arc. It helps me to understand why one story is good and why another story doesn’t work.”

    Evelyne admits to missing her adventures, saying, “I don’t like the word addiction, but somehow I’m addicted to the mountains and to climbing. I’m part of nature. If I’m not part of nature, I feel empty. It hurts.”

    After finishing the Documentary Filmmaking program at the end of the year, Evelyne will return to Switzerland, where she will plan for her next big adventure. “I want to traverse from Alps, cross the Caucuses, and find out stories about the sacred mountains of the Himalayas.”

    Check out a recent feature on Evelyne Binsack that aired on Swiss television, and get a behind-the-scenes look at New York Film Academy’s Los Angeles campus!

    Evelyne Binsack Alps

    Evelyne Binsack Summit

    Evelyne Binsack Swiss Alps

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  • Is Film School Worth It?

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    If you are pursuing a career in filmmaking one of the most difficult questions to answer is if film school is worth it? Many young filmmakers find difficulty in weighing the time and money spent on film school vs. pursuing a career in filmmaking on their own without school?

    First of all, if you have a camera and desire to make films, congratulations! YOU ARE A FILMMAKER. No need for any form of school or college.

    Filmmaking is an art, a creative process. A painter needs no certificate or training to create, just a brush, paint and canvas. A filmmaker only ever really needs a camera, film, and editing suite to make films; and because of the development of modern technology almost anyone can afford the equipment and learn how to use it fairly quickly. Plus, with the advent of YouTube you can distribute your film to the world in a day. On the other hand, to master the use of the camera, film and editing suite, as well as the distribution and sale of your film you will need a lot of practice and instruction.

    Most painters did not just pick up a brush and start painting masterpieces. They apprenticed professional artists, received some form of formal training and painted for years before they produced their best works. Most filmmakers need the same which you can get from a film school.

    Top film schools provide professional instructors and the opportunity to gain real world experience writing, shooting, directing and editing your own films.

    So ask yourself this, have you already mastered filmmaking or feel you are on your way? If the answer is yes, then the answer to is film school worth it is no. You don’t need film school.  If you are already creating great films, you just need to learn how to produce your films; which there are classes for that as well. Plus, take that $50,000-$100,000 you would have spent on film school and spend it on producing your own film.

    If you have not yet mastered filmmaking and feel that attending a film school would help you grow as a filmmaker while speeding up the process fulfill your goals as a filmmaker, then the answer is yes. Film school is worth it if it brings you closer to making your masterpiece.

    Now the next step is finding the best school for you and enrolling in film school.

    Addition – I posted this on Facebook and had a great comment from a former film school student.

    Its challenging but after finishing my Film, Bachelors I’ve never felt so confident in my life to hold a camera, to write a script and to pursue a career in Filmmaking.

    Film School… its definitely an advantage to acquire knowledge related to the industry, knowing certain techniques, styles and areas within Filmmaking…. it actually improves your creativism and versatility to better achieve your Vision.

    Finding your department is important…. I found FX/makeup department to be my strongest point.
    … if I would’ve chosen to just continue in the industry without been educated, I don’t think I would’ve ever found my place and probably end up disappointed and discouraged. Film school gives you guidance, to bring out that unique quality that describe us as an Artist.
    Tanya Lee

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    Fun Fact: There are 968 film schools!

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    August 21, 2009 • Acting • Views: 1061

  • The History of Our Film School

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    The history of film schools began less then 40 years ago. The history of our film school is much more recent and vastly different.

    While film schools started popping up in the 1970’s the New York Film Academy’s President and Founder, Jerry Sherlock, was busy making an impact within the motion picture industry.

    As an independent producer for Hollywood films, stage and television Sherlock developed projects for Disney, Warner Brothers, United Artists, Paramount, E.M.I. and others. Among his many credits are Executive Producer of the major motion picture and Oscar winning film, The Hunt For Red October, the Producer for Lolita, a Broadway production; and Executive Producer of the Television Production, Amal and the Night Visitors, for CBS.

    Not too shabby coming from someone who dropped out of school at age 14, joined a traveling carnival and later joined the United States Air Force.

    Working In Hollywood Has Its Advantages

    While working in Hollywood as a Film Producer, Sherlock was involved in conversations with his fellow Hollywood peers about where to send their sons and daughters to learn filmmaking and acting. This got the self-made businessman thinking.

    After a a little research, he discovered that anyone interested in a career in filmmaking or acting at the time was limited to two choices. 1) learn on their own or 2) enroll in an expensive university to study film for four years to attend lectures and study from books.

    Jerry asked himself why students have to spend thousands of dollars on an advanced degree just to “study” filmmaking when all it really took to learn filmmaking was practice with on latest equipment using the latest teqhniques while receiving hands-on instruction from a proffesional.  Without much delay, Sherlock opened the New York Film Academy in 1992 within Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Center in New York City.

    Pioneering Hands-On Filmmaking Classes

    Two years after graduating it’s first film class, the New York Film Academy had become known throughout the industry for offering “boot camp” style workshops for future filmmakers.

    The curriculum offered at NYFA consisted of intensive hands-on traning from day one. The first day of classes students had a camera in their hand and by the end of the first week they where shooting thier first film.

    The New York Film Academy was unlike any other film school at that time. We pioneered the teaching of hands-on learning with professional film equipment. Many critics thought we were crazy putting equipment in the “untrained” hands of students so soon. But Jerry knew better.

    He knew that the best way to learn filmmaking was to make films; not in a lecture hall or watching film, but actually working on a real set creating with other students.

    Competing With The “Best”

    After attracing the sons and daughters of many of Hollywood’s elite such as Steven Spielberg, Kevin Kline, Susan Surandon, Pierce Brosner and many more – a number of the “top” film colleges and universities started taking notice.

    Many of these schools started offering “hands-on” courses within their program and giving students the opportunity to shoot feature length films.

    Film School Perfected…Almost

    NYFA has since grown into its own building in historic Tammany Hall. Many of the original faculty, including Sherlock himself, are still with the Academy-and they come from some of the country’s most prestigious film programs, including NYU, USC, UCLA, AFI, Stanford and Harvard.

    In 2005, the New York Film Academy became an accredited college and began offering one and two year courses for college credit, plus, a two year Master of Fine Arts program.

    Just like our students, we are always learning and perfecting our craft as teachers of the art and science of filmmaking. Today, we have thousands of successful graduates working in the motion picture industry througought the world. All of whom have enjoyed our intensive, hands-on film courses that have remained the foundation of our curriculum since opening our doors in 1992.

    Even though our film school was NOT found by four naked guys on the Brooklyn bridge, we feel our history is what seperates us from all other film schoools and is an excellent indicator of where we are going.

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    July 21, 2009 • Acting • Views: 6145