BFA Filmmaking

Q&A with New York Film Academy (NYFA) BFA Filmmaking Grad Alexia Garcia del Rio

The idea of studying film never even occurred to Alexia Garcia del Rio until she just happened to walk by New York Film Academy (NYFA) while visiting New York City from Argentina with her family.  Four years later, she was enrolling in the BFA Filmmaking program at NYFA’s Burbank-based campus.

Since then, Garcia del Rio has graduated and earned a job at Daily Wire, where she manages a team and produces a ton of content for the company. Garcia del Rio has also found time to work on her personal projects, including the short film A Land Where Children Play.

Alexia Garcia del Rio

NYFA BFA Filmmaking Alum Alexia Garcia del Rio

New York Film Academy spoke with BFA Filmmaking alum Alexia Garcia del Rio about her film, her responsibilities at Daily Wire, and what brought her from Argentina to producing films in the US:

New York Film Academy (NYFA): First, can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?

Alexia Garcia del Rio (AG): I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I lived until I decided to attend New York Film Academy when I was 19 years old. I remember the first time I was in New York travelling with my family when I was fifteen, and as we casually walked around the breathtaking city, I stumbled across the NYFA building. I felt immediately drawn to it, something I still can’t explain, and ever since then I always knew that was the place where I wanted to study. I walked into the building right away and asked for all the information regarding all careers there, and funny enough, I had never even thought of studying film until then. 

I got emails and a handbook (which I think I still have with me), and saw it as an impossible dream. So impossible, that I started studying film in Argentina, sure it would never happen. In my family, and at that time, no one had really left to live abroad; in fact, we all lived pretty close to each other. But after a year in Argentina, I got an email from someone at NYFA, mentioning their programs, and immediately that spark of desire and fire came back to me–and half a year later, I was packing up my bags to go to and live something that seemed an utter distant dream since childhood. 

Alexia Garcia del Rio

NYFA: What drew you to filmmaking over the other NYFA programs? 

AG: I have always had a passion for films, from a very young age. At the same time, I shared the same passion with writing and storytelling in general. In Argentina, the circle in which I grew up in was more conservative, and studying something like film also seemed like one impossible dream. So at first I started to study psychology right after high school until, just like when I saw NYFA for the first time, lightning struck me and in one day all the fears went away and I got into film school. By far, the best decision I’ve ever made.

I believe film is the perfect medium to convey all the thoughts of social awareness and deeper struggles I love to explore, that I would have done as a psychologist as well, but in large, it provided me with the platform to make a change at a larger scale. Argentina is a third world country, and as such, there are a lot of things I saw growing up around me that I would love to be able to improve, and film is that medium, resource, and tool to help me do so. I would love to have the opportunity to do a master’s in psychology and sociology if I get the chance to do so, and broaden my awareness and perception of the world. 

NYFA: How did first start working at Daily Wire?

AG: Well, I had just received my approved OPT in order to work after graduation, and I was applying to many jobs at the time–this one happened to be one of them. You could say I stumbled across this job, I didn’t know much about it before. I went to four interviews, and as weird as it may sound, the very first time I stepped foot in the building I knew I was going to see this place again, I could feel it. After the fourth interview, the CEO followed me to the elevator and asked me to send him my short film, A Land Where Children Play. I was very scared to do so, since the film covers a sensitive subject, and I wasn’t sure if it would be well received. But I got a call back immediately after saying that they were so impressed with my interviews and film that they wanted to offer me the position of associate producer at the company. 

Alexia Garcia del Rio

NYFA: What is your job like at Daily Wire? What are your responsibilities?

AG: I started as an associate producer, helping the producers in the managing of all the shows produced. After seven months they promoted me to be the manager of the post-production department, the role which I currently occupy. It was amazing–I could not believe it when they offered me the position. Now, I manage and lead the team of designers, illustrators, and animators for all Daily Wire productions and for third party contractors as well. I have a handle on all creative and technical aspects of the content, and make sure everything is on schedule and budget as well as meeting quality expectations. 

NYFA: Can you tell us about your film A Land Where Children Play

AG: My film is about a sick and old Israeli, conservative man whose values are put into question when he is forced to live with a Syrian refugee Muslim child.

NYFA: What inspired you to make A Land Where Children Play?

AG: I wanted to write a love poem for society, portraying the contrast and power of religion and culture, and how a belief system and the way we are raised can sometimes be blinding or conditioning. Exploring both cultures’ similarities and differences, the juxtaposition of innocence and ignorance, how ultimately we are all human beings–even though sometimes we forget.

I wanted to pass on a message that if we actually get to know one another, we might have more things in common than we believe. How senseless wars are taking over lives, destroying cities, and leaving children scared, humans scared. After all, we haven’t really evolved as much as we think we have. 

I also wanted to portray both sides of adopting an older child, with post-traumatic stress, showing both beauty and struggle, love and desperation in that situation–maybe in the hopes to raise awareness, since I would love to do it myself when I can support him/her.

NYFA: What are your plans for A Land Where Children Play?

AG: I would love to turn it into a feature film, and I would love for it to raise awareness of these issues and topics I touch upon.

A Land Where Children Play Alexia Garcia del Rio

NYFA: Has your work at Daily Wire had any impact on your personal filmmaking?

AG: Well, gladly, since Daily Wire is a production company, I get to do what I love every day. I create all animated shorts we produce and have creative freedom and decision making for every project we do. We shoot shows regularly and I get to be a part of that as well. Also, I am very glad that I can still write, direct, and produce smaller projects outside of work, such as music videos or short films on the weekends, and simultaneously continue to write my feature film project.

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to your work?

AG: Well NYFA gave me all the tools to apply in the workplace, the experience and technicalities I needed in order to excel in my job from day one. I had already directed and produced so many projects thanks to NYFA and the hands-on workshops provided, that doing it regularly was a continuation of my studies. Everything I had to learn on the job in order to produce the live shows was facilitated due to the learnings from the instructors and programs offered. 

NYFA: What advice would you give to students just starting out at NYFA? 

AG: Take advantage of every opportunity offered. Shoot as much as you can, network, make contacts, and always try to get onto sets–the more experience you gather the best results you’ll get after. Always strive for excellence, not for anyone else, but to excel and overcome your own personal expectations. Fail, make mistakes–but always learn from them. Be very observant of what things you like and you don’t from other fellow filmmakers, and take the classes seriously. If you do, by the time you graduate you’ll be fifty percent there. 

NYFA provides the great opportunity to be very hands on and shoot constantly, but filmmaking is a career that mostly will depend on you–so you are responsible for your own success or failure. Finally, people should take advantage of Barbara Weintraub, NYFA Director of Career Development and Industry Outreach, and her team that helps with training for interviews making your resume as strong as possible. I couldn’t have done it without her help.

Alexia Garcia del Rio

New York Film Academy thanks BFA Filmmaking alum Alexia Garcia del Rio for taking the time to answer our questions and wishes her the best of success with her film A Land Where Children Play and her work at Daily Wire.

The Value of a Filmmaking Degree

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The right filmmaking degree or certificate sets you apart. With the advent of online streaming services, social media, and other new technologies, film is becoming a bigger part of our lives. It is now easier than ever to watch hundreds of films in various formats and on many kinds of platforms from the comfort of our homes, cars, or mobile devices, and then talk about them with friends and fellow film enthusiasts online.

The result: more aspiring filmmakers with a hunger to become the next great cinematic storyteller. Filmmaking is more than a dream; it’s a discipline, an artform, and a craft. The right filmmaking degree or certificate can help. Becoming a filmmaker requires a great deal of talent, training, and hard work, which is why a dedicated period of study in an intensive, hands-on filmmaking program like those at NYFA can be the first step toward turning the dream of filmmaking into a reality. There must be some reason why industry professionals, people who know what it takes to make it in the film business, send their children to our film school.

Continue reading to learn why graduating from a filmmaking degree or certificate program can be the first step toward pursuing a vital career in one of the most creative industries on the planet — and can help you get a leg up on your competition.

The Right Film Program Puts You Behind The Camera From the Start

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If you’re considering a degree or a course in filmmaking, chances are you’ve already been behind a camera before. Whether you were capturing a special family moment, a high school project, or a short film idea of your own, you discovered the joys and challenges of filmmaking.

Since the only way to become a better filmmaker is by making films, a good film program is designed to give you extensive experience — and will help you learn by doing. NYFA’s filmmaking programs put students behind the camera the very first day of class. We understand that only through hands-on experience can one learn how to master the art and craft of visual storytelling. Thanks to a good balance of hands-on workshops and actual directing instruction, students leave NYFA programs prepared to tell powerful cinematic stories. A film degree or program can leave you with more direct filmmaking experience than you imagined possible in that relatively short, dedicated amount of time.

The Right Film Program Prepares You For Many Career Paths

Graduates with filmmaking degrees or certificates are ready to pursue several different career paths in the industry. One of the most demanding and most longed-for jobs that film students dream of is that of director. Since directors usually have a hand in all aspects of production, aspiring filmmakers need to learn more than just how to handle a camera. Directors need to understand each role in the crew, how the equipment works, and what their team needs in order to succeed on a shoot. Filmmaking students learn leadership, collaboration, and technical skills that are vital in managing or participating in real-world working sets. And even if directing was the original goal, a good program can expose students to new roles and specialties within the field and expand their horizons — and potential careers.

For this reason, NYFA’s acclaimed filmmaking programs offer instruction on the fundamentals of directing, cinematography, editing, and postproduction sound design. There’s also training available in acting, screenwriting, digital video production, and digital editing. This teaches our students the tools they need to function at the professional level not just directors but as filmmakers — whether that means they pursue work as cinematographers, producers, screenwriters, editors, and more.

The Right Film Program Surrounds You With Other Filmmakers

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If there’s one thing that can be said about the filmmaking industry, it’s that it is one of the most collaborative environments out there. There’s a reason why most movies today have lengthy end credits that list the cast and crew responsible for bringing what was once an idea to the big screen. Making films is truly a team effort and depends upon a strong network of capable, passionate professionals who are able to cooperate with each other in service of a bigger story. A filmmaking degree or certificate shows that you’ve had a taste of this process while working with other students, and that you’re ready to contribute and cooperate in the real world.

More importantly, a film program challenges you to learn from both seasoned instructors and other aspiring filmmakers with different preferences and backgrounds. Such an environment can help you develop your own style while trying out unique tools that fellow peers recommend. You may also make connections that become future collaborations long after graduation. Often, filmmaking school is where you begin to build your own professional network. So it’s wise to approach your time in film school with the professionalism you hope to make a part of your lasting reputation.

The Right Filmmaking Program Makes You More Attractive To Employers

As the film industry continues to grow, so does the number of people who want to be a part of it. This means that graduates are facing more competition for jobs than ever before. With only so many positions available and countless applicants, production companies often look at experience to decide which applicants to select.

Experience is exactly what you’ll get at film school, and it comes in the form of all the student projects you work on during your time studying. Our two-year program alone has students write, shoot, direct, and edit more than 11 films, while students working toward a BFA have an entire year to focus on their thesis film production. Being able to walk into an interview with plenty of projects under your belt — and actual footage to show for it — will separate you from the crowd of applicants who don’t have any solid filmmaking experience.

The Right Film Program Lets You Learn From Professionals

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The best film schools offer a faculty of instructors with experience in the filming industry. This allows students to get hands-on training from people who actually know what it’s like to work on the set of today’s biggest movies and shows, and who are still involved and in tune with changing industry trends. There’s nothing more valuable than having a diverse team of instructors ready to pass their knowledge onto others, including common mistakes to avoid, insights from real projects, contacts in the industry, and hard-won expertise.

Students enrolled in NYFA filmmaking programs also gain access to special talks with some of the most luminous icons in the business. Recent visits include award-winning directors like Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Seth Rogen, and Doug Liman. Plenty of acclaimed actors and actresses also come as guest speakers to share with students what it’s like working in Hollywood.

Studying at the right film school is not the only way to become a filmmaker, but it is certainly one of the most respected, direct, sure-fire ways to develop your skills and knowledge to the level of a professional. Your filmmaking degree or certificate can become your professional calling card.

How have your filmmaking studies enriched your own creative work and professional goals? Let us know in the comments below!

BFA Film vs BA Film: Which Is Best?

An amazing career in filmmaking often starts with a great education, and prospective students have more than a few options to choose from in this regard. Since the great rewards that come with having a high profile degree often require years of study to attain, the decision of which film degree to go for can be a huge one (and, of course, it is not one that should be taken lightly.)

BA vs BFA Filmmaking

One of the biggest crossroads which prospective film students find themselves at involves the differences between the BA and BFA film programs. If you’re currently asking yourself “BA vs BFA Film: which is best for me?”, read on as we discuss the distinctions between these two popular filmmaking degrees.

BA vs BFA Film Programs

Both the BA and BFA film degrees are designed to give students of the craft a deep understanding of what goes into creating a movie masterpiece, as well as how the industry as a whole operates. With this in mind, does it particularly matter which one you choose?

BA or BFA Filmmaking

In one sense, not particularly; both are recognized qualifications and will set you up for career success following graduation. But if you’re a very motivated student who wants to dig a little deeper and get more out of your time at film school, you’ll probably fare better embarking on a BFA in film.

Benefits of Choosing a BFA

The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, as the name implies, provides a slightly more in-depth study of the craft (as a whole) and as a result is more intensive.

This is evidenced by the fact that a BFA degree can take longer to complete than the BA equivalent – usually four years vs. three years – though it should be noted that BFA Film degrees can be completed in three years when done on an accelerated basis (i.e. three semesters per academic rather than two).

BFA Filmmaking degrees

One of the added benefits of undertaking an accelerated BFA degree is, of course, the time saved; you’ll be able to start your career a year early and begin the process of gaining internships and netting paid work while standard BFA Film students are still completing their final year. A natural follow-on from this is the financial benefit of saving on tuition and living expenses which would have been otherwise used up by a fourth year of study.

Other considerations that should be made when weighing up your options include:

  • Will you be able to work with numerous film formats, e.g. 16mm, 35mm, HD and RED Dragon?
  • Does the course structure only cover a single aspect of the filmmaking process, or will you get the chance to master screenwriting, directing, producing and editing for a more well-rounded understanding?
  • Does the film school location allow for a variety of shooting locations?
  • Is the program solely grounded in academic/theoretical study, or will you be learning through actually making films during the course of the year?
  • Will you graduate from the program with a polished and usable portfolio of completed film work which you can use to gain professional work?

Our own BFA in Film program – conducted at our Los Angeles campus – is worth checking out since it ticks all the right boxes in terms of offering a well-rounded learning experience. Students will also delve deep into liberal arts and science courses to help supplement the core understanding of the filmmaking process; students won’t simply learn how to shoot film, but will also gain an in-depth knowledge of how and why certain techniques are (and have been) used.

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Ultimately, a filmmaking student should be looking to find his or her own cinematographic ‘voice’, and a BFA Film degree can help you achieve just that. If you’re exceptionally motivated and ready to begin the first step of an intensive journey in film, head over to the program page and check out the full details of what might be the biggest turning point of your career.