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Chase a Story not the Gear

What camera did you use? What editing software? What LUT? Which filmmaker haven’t ever heard these questions? We are being bombarded with new releases from established equipment brands being announced constantly, and it’s hard to keep up with the always evolving technology surrounding film gear. People are consuming more content now than ever, spending more time in their phones and computers and Content Creators have a lot to work with.

But can a camera make you a better filmmaker? It’s a valid question in today’s filmmaking world but the answer is no. As filmmakers, our goal is to tell stories through our unique experiences, our knowledge, and, most importantly, our feelings and emotions. The cameras and gear you use are nothing without the eyes and brains behind it. 

Even when you tell stories that were already told more than once, they are not the same stories. The perspective and the point of view of who is telling the story can change everything.

But won’t the equipment help the story?

New equipment gives the filmmaker the opportunity to get results that he/she couldn’t get before, and if that’s not why you’re using it, then you don’t need it. It’s simply expanding your palette of colors for painting your story, nothing more and nothing less.

You need equipment that allows you to deliver your story. And most of the time, you have plenty of options of equipment to use (DFA students and grads have free lifetime equipment access through LEAP: https://www.digitalfilmacademy.edu/why-dfa/). But if you don’t have a good story, it’s not the gear that will make it interesting.

So first of all, work on your script. Creating good stories is demanding and it takes effort. “Screenplays are not works of art. They are invitations to others to collaborate on a work of art” — Paul Schrader

Are you ready to start facing those blank pages?

Coronavirus and The Evolution of a Film School

While the world hunkered down in the Spring of 2020 against Coronavirus,

U.S. universities and colleges faced a challenge: how to continue to educate

and train their students?

One film school in New York City was undergoing a forward-looking evolution.

Patrick Direnna. President and Founder of Digital Film Academy explains: “In

that moment we switched to become an online film school. Students went

live online. They were together with each other and with their instructors. We

evolved. And after students graduate from here, they will continue to have

free lifetime access to equipment. Our graduates have a plan of action in

place and are ready to produce media and monetize it as restrictions lift!”

The school has 2 brick and mortar locations: one film school in NYC and one

film school in Atlanta Georgia. With the New York film academy location at

Times Square and the Georgia film academy located in downtown Atlanta,

the convenience is obvious.

During the COVID-19 pandemic both cities were locked down. Yet the

message to prospective students was clear: “Stay safe! But consider how to

use this time effectively. Develop these digital film production skills now.

Once this is all over, the time will be ripe for the right media. Those who are

ready to deliver it when the bell rings will do well. Use your time wisely.”

Digital Film Academy offers a 16 month Associate Degree in filmmaking

alongside a 12 month Certificate program in media production. Its policy of

free lifetime access to equipment has enabled alumni (including veterans and

international students) to build careers in independent film production and to

achieve positions at HBO and Vimeo. Graduates have won student Academy

awards and major prizes at the Venice Film Festival. Chadwick Boseman of

Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ fame is even an alum!

International students on F-1 student visas may use CPT, OPT and STEM OPT

for 3 additional years of work authorization in the USA.

With potential start dates in January, May or September, founder Patrick

DiRenna recommends: “This is a time to move forward. Don’t just do

nothing. That’s the worst you could possibly do right now. Hone your skills!

As we enter this new post-COVID-19 world, you can position yourself to

produce powerful, meaningful and monetizable media.”

Digital Film Academy, New York & Atlanta

Tom Griffin, Director of Marketing

Tel. 212-333-4013

Coronavirus and Digital Film Academy: Statement from Patrick DiRenna, School President

“Hello Everyone,

My name is Patrick Direnna. I am the President and Founder of Digital Film Academy.

Thank you very much for joining me for a few minutes. Let’s discuss briefly what’s going on in the world with the Coronavirus, how that affects everyone’s life, what people are doing and not doing and how it affects the importance of media.

Very important now, more than ever, to be able to create professional grade media and get it to the public as people are consuming more and more and media become more monetizable.

But most important is what you DO at this time. And what you do WITH this time!

So firstly, stay safe. Keep your loved ones safe. Be smart and keep your hands clean. Keep all those around you that you care about safe, first and foremost.

Now beyond that use this time to hone these skills, because when this is over the time is going to be ripe for the right media. Those who are ready to deliver it when the bell rings are going to do very well. Those who only then start studying at that time and then 7 or 8 months later it’s going to be old and there could be something else going on. So use this time wisely! Don’t just do nothing. That would be the worst thing. Hone your skills. Right now the demands are going to be less, so it’s time to actually get your skills in order and then as soon as this is over and as soon as you are ready, you’ll be able to produce meaningful, powerful, monetizable media.

And you’ll have free access to equipment.

Our programs start May 11th 2020. Everything is on schedule. We’ve switched over to online.

We’re in very good condition there. The students are live online, so they’re with each other, they’re with the instructors. Everything’s moving forward and after they graduate they have free access to equipment for the rest of their life.

.Just like YOU will have! So they’re going to be hitting the ground running

So don’t shy away, make sure you move forward. Always!

Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it and stay safe.”

Sign up now to attend our LIVE ONLINE Open House event 3 days from
now on Saturday April 4th at 3pm.

Add your name to the guest list now:

DFA Alumni Jamaal Green on his Award Winning web-series “Chronicles Of,” and his experience at Digital Film Academy



Jamaal Green, a former DFA student – completed both the first year and advance program in filmmaking. We spoke to him about what he’s working on, and how his experience at the school helped to shape his career in film. 

“We had access to equipment from day one which was huge and we also had some really good instructors. I wouldn’t have advanced, technically and skill set wise if I didn’t go to DFA and also because the people that I met there.”

How has DFA prepared you for life after grad?

“DFA helped me organize as a filmmaker. It helped me to be a self starter and to keep pushing, that was huge. Going there helped me realized that it’s not just going to happen for you and that you have to really push it. DFA really gave us a lot of tools, and how well you did there was  up to you. They gave you everything you needed. We had access to equipment from day one which was huge and we also had some really good instructors. I wouldn’t have advanced, technically and skill set wise if I didn’t go to DFA and also because the people that I met there. The networking was huge. I still keep in contact with a lot of the students that graduated around the time I was there. I’m still do productions with one of my classmates. We have a small production company called MG Cinecraft.“

What are you currently working on?

“My main focus right now is a web series, The concept started when I was still at DFA and web series was kind of a new thing. One of our assignments was to create a web series and so I created something, which back then was called “Chronicles Of A Profiler.” As of now its been revamped and it’s just called “Chronicles Of.” It’s basically an ensemble crime thriller about a bunch of different characters in different locations spread across the region between New York and Philadelphia, and how their lives intersect when total corruption takes over. Everything kicks off when a string of murders that starts happening throughout the tri-state sets of a chain reaction that starts to expose all the things that’s been going on politically and socially in the underbelly for a while.”



What has the response been like to “Chronicles Of?”

We just recently participated in the Winter International Film Awards in New York. We won best web series. It’s been long time, we actually started full production, maybe two years ago, and we’ve been in post production for the last year or so. Finally we took the first episode and entered it into the film festivals. We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well we’ve done. We’ve also been in the New Jersey Web Fest, which we did well in, and as a result of how we performed there we got a direct selection into the Apulia Web Fest in Italy in May. We will be showing at the Garden State Film Festival on March 28th and also in the Miami Web Film Festival on May 14th. We’re still waiting to hear back from some others, and we’re just now starting to enter the other episodes as well. We’re very happy with how it came out. 

We have eight episodes that are about 15 minutes each and a finale that’s about 45 minutes. So when it’s all together is a two and a half hour long feature. I’ve written enough to do four seasons, depending on how it’s received. The ultimate goal is to flip it into television. 

Stayed tuned with Jamaal, MG CineCraft and Chronicles Of here – 

MG CineCraft:

https://www.mgcinecraft.com/

Instagram:

@_chronicles_of_

https://www.instagram.com/_chronicles_of_/

Facebook: 

https://www.facebook.com/Chroniclesofaprofiler/

Observe a class at Digital Film Academy!

First Feature Film by Digital Film Academy graduate Matthew Vincini

The Cattle Farmer. Written and Directed by award-winning filmmaker Matthew Vincini, The Cattle Farmer tells the story of a young foster boy, Konner, who soon gets adopted into a family. He learns that his life has been planned from the start.

Matt Vincini, a graduate of Digital Film Academy in New York City, began the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo back in early 2019.

Fast forward 12 months and the former film student’s movie in its final stages of post-production.

the cattle farmer

‘The Cattle Farmer’ tells the story of a young boy named Konner in a
foster home who looks forward to the day he might be adopted into a
new family.

The film is written and directed by Digital Film Academy graduate filmmaker Matt Vincini. The elite film school offers students interested in film production an opportunity to see what their program is all about.

Official Trailer

Testimonial video interview with Matt Vincini of Digital Film Academy

Benefits of New York City’s Leading Film School

Written, Directed and Edited by: Matthew Vincini
Director of Photography, Editing: Kyle Ethan Salazar
Executive Producer: Titus Peoples, Ultimate Class Entertainment
Produced by: Martial Davis, Qadr Amin,

helpful film tips

Helpful Tips For First-Time Filmmakers

When you start to learn about filmmaking, it’s best to keep things simple and stick to the fundamentals.  You might be using a video camera, a smartphone, or an advanced DSLR camera.  Before you start, make sure your video camera is ready, with a fully charged battery, and enough free space on the internal hard drive, or a few memory cards.

  1. Prepare to film many separate shots: Limit camera movement around a scene and try to not follow action. Film a series of separate shots that can be edited later in post-production.
  2. Keep the camera steady: Support the camera with a tripod, camera gimbal stabilizer, or by resting the camera on a surface, such as a table, wall, shelf, pillow, or chair.
  3. Take backup shots: It’s always smart to take multiple backup shots of different scenes
  4. Move around: Don’t film only at eye level or waist level. Move around and film shots from different places. Try from above, below, and from different positions around the subject.
  5. Don’t use zoom: It is best to stay all the way zoomed out, video camera shaking will be less apparent, and sound will generally record better and be clearer.
  6. Frame shots carefully: Stay focused on the background and edges of the shot and keep the camera level
  7. Get close to the action: Use lots of close-up shots to bring attention to important details, consider using a macro lens for close-ups.
  8. Think about lighting: Film where this is a lot of light but not much contrast, film with the light behind you.
  9. Take control of your camera: Do not only rely on autofocus and auto exposure, learn how to set exposure and focus manually.
  10. Think about sound quality and holding the shots in place: When using an internal microphone get very close to the subject being filmed, also film shots for a few seconds longer than you need. Hold the shot for about 10 seconds for a non-action shot and hold the shot 5 seconds before or after any speech or action.

Are you interested in a promising career in film? Want to learn more?

Consider observing a class at our leading film school in New York, NY.

Digital Film Academy was founded by film producer and director Patrick DiRenna on September 10, 2001 in the historic Film Center building in New York City. While making his first feature film Train of Illusion in 1991, DiRenna realized that he was at the mercy of others who did not share his same passion and drive about his project. This realization echoed throughout his career, and as technology advanced and the reliance on film lessened, DiRenna foresaw digital media as the future for independent filmmakers while other academic institutions still focused on film.

Wanting to create an all-digital media school offering tools to filmmakers not available at any other school, Digital Film Academy was born! In addition to state-of-the-art instruction in digital filmmaking, filmmakers receive a production membership to the academy’s facility upon graduation. This unique combination of instruction and access to the facility enables filmmakers to become independent and start working in the growing industry without having to invest thousands of dollars into equipment.

The demand for such a program was noted as our school grew and established an excellent reputation in the community and abroad over the years. At that time, Digital Film Academy offered a part-time, hands-on program where students would write, produce, direct, and edit their short film.

In 2008, the academy further flourished under the leadership of Elena Primost, former Vice President and Director of Academic Affairs, who expanded the academy’s curriculum to full-time beginner and advanced conservatory programs and led the academy to national accreditation in 2011.

Digital Film Academy continues to be innovative and strive to exceed the needs of filmmakers. With our program, you are provided with the skills, the tools, and the support that you need to be truly independent.

Short Film: CHECKMATE

This short film is written and directed by Digital Film Academy graduate Mr. Gleb Osatinski. Gleb studied at Digital Film Academy back in 2011 and has gone on to direct and produce a series of highly well-received short films. The film was nominated in February 2020 and just won on REEL13 by PBS.

Other Work:

Trailer – Pisces of an Unconscious Mind by Gleb Osatinski

NSFW: Production of the Series ‘Future Sex’

One of our former students was a producer on all four episodes of the anthology ‘Future Sex’. Stephan Zlotescu was featured as a producer on the hit series Future Sex by French digital-media startup Blackpills.

Featuring stand-alone dramas — incisive, exciting, futuristic stories that explore techno-sexual interactions in the future — “Future Sex” is a forward-looking anthology with stories that tap into the collective unknown about sex in the future. Each story features its own cast of unique characters exploring what’s to become of mankind’s most favorite ritual.

Film Shot

Training for a Career in the Film Industry

Some people are more interested in what goes on behind the scenes than others. In the film industry there are many careers and positions one might strive to achieve. Digital Film Academy based in Manhattan, New York knows what it takes to become a successful expert in multiple aspects of filmmaking including Editing, Cinematography, Lighting, Animation, Sound Production, Visual Effects and more. Digital Film Academy was established in 2001 by film producer and director Patrick DiRenna in the historic Film Center Building in Manhattan. Since that time, the school has turned countless graduates into independent filmmakers or actors with new prestigious careers.

From graduates who starred in blockbuster Marvel films, such as Chadwick Boseman, to several graduates who worked on films commissioned by Netflix, Digital Film Academy has numerous success stories. People interested in film or television can easily work on their production skills through courses at our school. Our institution is known as one of the leading art & design colleges in New York City with a focus on film. People searching for filmmaking classes online can experience and observe our courses in action and make sure it’s the right fit for them before making a commitment. Digital Film Academy has achieved global recognition and was also named ‘Best Film School in NYC’ by Village Voice.

One of the unique advantages of going to Digital Film Academy, is that you get a head start on your career after graduation, which includes free lifetime usage of their state-of-the-art video equipment and facilities.

The programs at Digital Film Academy do not put a strain on students in terms of tuition and the school provides many resources to boost the new careers of graduates. Courses include Film History, Screenwriting, Directing, Cinematography, Video Editing, Career and Portfolio Development, Producing, and more.

Our instructors and students use industry-leading software to train with such as Avid Media Composer, Pro Tools, Adobe Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve, Maya 3D Animation, and Movie Magic. Anyone with an interest in photography or filmmaking can advance their skills easily using Digital Film Academy’s refined curriculum.

Students are taken through hands-on training with the critical theory and foundation that transforms beginner level film students into professional filmmakers. The One-Year Digital Filmmaking Conservatory is a popular course offered by the university. Digital Film Academy continues to be the innovative force behind new filmmaking professionals breaking out in the industry.

FOX Sports and Digital Film Academy – Video Editing a NASCAR Documentary + The Berlin Sci-Fi Film Festival

It’s great to see another success story from one of our international students! Our former film student and now graduate Kayode ’Kaykay’ Olowu was hired by Orange County Speedway in upstate New York as a Video Editor. 

Orange County Fair Speedway is a 1 km oval dirt speedway in Middletown, New York. The facility holds weekly stock car races and demolition derbies during the summer months.

Our international film student worked as editor of a 10 episode documentary series about the history of car racing at the famous location. All 10 episodes premiered on FOX Sports website and as you can see here, as part of the NASCAR on Fox series.

Ready to start your engines? Vroom vrooom! 

Check this out. You will NOT be disappointed.

Way back in 2016, Kaykay was kind enough to do a short video interview, describing his experiences at Digital Film Academy when he studied in our Advanced Year Program as an international student:

Great to now see how his career is progressing. Onwards and upwards, Kaykay!

TANNIA + BERLIN SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL

Shout out to Digital Film Academy student Tannia Kustka for her acting prowess in “REWIND”.

The short film concerns a mother suppressing her fear of losing her daughter through combat through the help of futuristic technology. The film won best drama in this year’s Berlin Sci-fi Film Festival and Tannia was nominated for best actress. Proud of you, Tannia!

Digital Film Academy invites you for a free personalized experience in Cinematography at our NYC film school. Contact Us to Sign Up Now