Tag Archives: Digital Film Academy

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,

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
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.

Princess-Nokia

PRINCESS NOKIA: DIGITAL FILM ACADEMY NYC GRADUATE JAMAL SOLOMON

One of our graduates from Digital Film Academy class of 2013, Mr. Jamal Solomon, recently worked on an indie film starring one of the top female rappers in the USA.

The movie Angelfish tells a uniquely New York love story. It is set in the Bronx in the 90s; it follows two people from two very different backgrounds as they become emotionally entangled. Eva (played by Destiny Frasqueri / Princess Nokia) and Brendan (Jimi Stanton) are the star-crossed lovers.

For those who don’t recognize the name, Destiny Frasqueri is better known by her stage name Princess Nokia. She is an American rapper of Puerto Rican descent and a big name in the NYC hip hop community noted for her albums such as Honeysuckle, Metallic Butterfly and 1992 Deluxe.

The ‘Angelfish’ movie received reviews from Variety, Los Angeles Times and the Hollywood Reporter. We are particularly pleased to note that one of the articles singled out our film school graduate Jamal for his ‘sleepily gorgeous cinematography’, as they put it.

VIDEO: Jamal describes what it’s like to study at Digital Film Academy and see some clips of Princess Nokia in action

See our program in action, at our New York City Film School

Behind The Black Panther: Film School Founder Recalls Early Days Of Chadwick Boseman

Behind The Black Panther: Film School Founder Recalls Early Days Of Chadwick Boseman

Travis Bean, Forbes Contributor

When Patrick DiRenna talks about what makes for a great performance in a film, he speaks of emotional clarity; facial expressions; screen presence; controlling the audience.

But going beyond the mere components of acting, DiRenna views a great performance as a result of great filmmaking: the camera is in sync with the actor; the characters are well- developed; the direction is dictating the performance.

At the Digital Film Academy, that’s what DiRenna hopes students will learn: filmmaking is a team effort. And with that mentality, you can go far in the industry.

“You can make it big,” says DiRenna. “That’s what Chadwick did.”

Yeah, that’s right. Patrick DiRenna, the president and founder of Digital Film Academy in New York City, is talking about that Chadwick. One of his former students, the star of Black Panther—Chadwick Boseman.

With a new slew of future filmmakers set to attend the academy this September—with a second location opening in Atlanta due to attendance growth—DiRenna is looking back on what prepped the school’s most well-known graduate for success in the film industry.

DiRenna, a mentor to Boseman at the time, taught the upcoming star of 21 Bridges “acting for directors.” DiRenna saw the confidence behind Boseman’s performance and knew he had the potential to break out.

“He came here talented, focused, sharp,” DiRenna says.

That poise would certainly take Boseman far, but DiRenna says the actor’s willingness to learn and grow as a performer while attending the academy is what set him up for success.

“Thurgood Marshall is no slouch,” DiRenna says, recalling one of the many prominent African American figures Boseman has inhabited since graduating from Digital Film Academy. On top of portraying the nation’s first black Supreme Court justice, Boseman played Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get On Up.

“For me, from a tactical point of view, it’s about who they are,” DiRenna says. “These are three historical figures with big differences between them. If you really want to become these characters, you have to really be willing to take it on.”

Boseman’s versatility and range doesn’t surprise DiRenna, who remembers Boseman as a spot- on student. “Serious and not overly formal,” DiRenna describes Boseman, who has the range of Gary Oldman and the screen presence of Keanu Reeves. Boseman’s capacity to occupy Thurgood Marshall or James Brown goes beyond the ability to mimic those men’s gestures, movement and tone—DiRenna says it requires a quiet, steadied occupation of their being.

“I remember his face and the level of concentration in his eyes. You could see internal processes working,” DiRenna recalls. “At that time he was building himself. I could see he was putting the pieces together.”

But not everybody can find success because of their gripping screen presence. And, really, Boseman’s striking performances are benefitted by the players around him, DiRenna claims. Filmmaking is a collective experience between many professionals working together—and DiRenna’s academy strives to get all those different players ready for the industry.

“My example for all of this is The Godfather,” DiRenna explains. “Al Pacino does next to nothing in the film. But he’s got the face; and then you surround Michael Correlone with all the characters; if he’s still, the camera is moving. There’s all this activity going on.”

DiRenna believes that collective experience at the Digital Film Academy is truly what sets every student—not just Boseman—on a path towards realizing their careers. Alumni like Brad Bailey win awards for documentaries like Hale; alumni like Shaun Dawson nab managerial roles at digital platforms like Vimeo; alumni like Pavel Kercle work on visual effects for huge films like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World.

DiRenna’s goal is for the Digital Film Academy to not only coach students while attending school, but set them up for the future. That way, you can find jobs and make money like Boseman did—like Bailey and Dawson and Kercle did.

“This is the only school in the world when after you graduate, you have free access to our equipment forever,” DiRenna says. “That’s how you make money. Forget filmmaking—we’re talking digital filmmaking as an industry.” “

Source: Forbes Online, Jul 12, 2019, 02:16pm

Considering Film School? How to Choose the Best Film School?

According to Statistics and Facts About the Film Industry, the digital media industry shows healthy projections for the upcoming years. It is estimated that the film industry will increase from about $38 billion in 2016 to nearly $50 billion in 2020. From this increase in revenue, it is evident that the media industry is prospering. Those who are looking for employment within the film industry are in a good position in terms of their career choices. Before getting behind the camera and filming your soon-to-be Oscar nominated film, you must decide which film school to attend.

 

·      How does one choose the best program?

·      How much are you willing to spend?

·      Do you prefer a formal education based on theory or is hands-on training more important?

These are all great questions to ask yourself.

Here are several points to consider when choosing or considering a film school:

 

 

Who are your teachers?

 

When universities select professors and lecturers for their institution an emphasis is placed on their academic achievement. Although these faculty members are able to provide their students with theoretical knowledge, in many cases they lack real world experience. A professor can educate his/her student about film history but not how to produce a film. If a student only has access to the theoretical aspects of film, they may never get the chance to produce their own content.  A student should therefore consider investing in more practical training in digital media rather than the university option. Film training schools select their teachers and lecturers based on their industry experience. With this industry experience, teachers are able to create a curriculum that focuses more on the technical aspects of film. They are more “in-tune” with the evolution of technology, which the film industry heavily relies on.

 

Hands-on time

 

In a world filled with endless evolving cameras, physically shooting a film is not rocket science. Lights, camera, ACTION….and hit the record button, right? Although it might appear to be this simple, practice is what allows an amateur to become a professional. When shooting a film one must consider the following: lighting, camera movement, frame rate, shutter speed, and sound recording.

Professionals from the film industry know that hands-on training is essential to a good production. Allowing students to get sufficient lab time is crucial. University students can find themselves struggling to find this practice time, while students in film training schools have the advantage of being exposed to more lab time due to small class sizes.

 

Affordability

 

Unfortunately, a university education in filmmaking is usually on the pricey side. Your tuition can be as expensive as $50,000 per semester. A film training school like Digital Film Academy on the other hand, only charges students $17,995 per year, which can potentially save you from large student debt. In addition, Digital Film Academy provides its students with free access to filming tools.

 

Career Prospects

 

Although the film industry has healthy projections for the upcoming years, the film industry currently has a competitive job market. Once students have graduated from their chosen film schools, how will they find employment? Film schools like Digital Film Academy provide students with access to a job board. Instead of waiting to graduate before finding employment, these Digital Film Academy students are eligible to apply for these jobs even during their studies.

 

Choosing the right film school may be an easy or difficult decision to make. It depends on the size of your pockets, the content that is being taught, and how you will use this knowledge. If you find yourself struggling to make a decision, remember that a top quality school will provide you with:

  • Valuable courses
  • Hands-on training
  • Teachers with industry experience
  • Job opportunities

 

Digital Film Academy will provide you with all of the above.

 

Click here to find out more about DFA: Why DFA?

 

Reference:

Statistics and facts about the film industry. (2016) https://www.statista.com/topics/964/film/

DFA Film Student Spotlight: Ayanda Chisholm

Student Spotlight

What’s the biggest way in which the Digital Film Academy has affected student Ayanda Chisholm’s life?

“Definitely the WebTV class,” she says. “I had never considered doing a web series before. Now I’ve completed two episodes and plan to finish an entire first season.”

The web series, titled The Young, Black, and Gifted, focuses on a group of youths who form a coalition to fight police brutality. Just recently uploaded, the series has already begun to attract hundreds of views.

Still image from Chisholm’s web series.

“Some of the best advice I’ve gotten at the DFA was from Patrick,” Chisholm says, referring to DFA President Patrick DiRenna. “When making a film, he says to focus on ‘Emotional complexity and clarity, with a simple production.’” This formula has served Chisholm well and inspired her to create work that lands an emotional punch but won’t break the bank production-wise.

About the series

The series was created with an all-DFA crew, with the exception of the make-up artist. “It came out almost exactly as I imagined,” Chisholm muses, a statement rarely heard in the film world where finished projects often fall short of their original concepts. “Actually, it came out better than my vision.”

Working on the set of The Young, Black, and Gifted
Working on the set of The Young, Black, and Gifted

You can view the first two episodes of her web series here:

http://www.theyoungblackandgifted.com/

This recent success aside, Chisholm was no stranger to script-writing and filmmaking prior to entering the DFA’s Advanced Digital Filmmaking program.

“I’ve always been an avid movie-watcher, movie-lover,” she says.

i-love-movies

She began as a playwright, writing her first short play in middle school, where it was performed for her classmates. Once she got to high school, she began to transition into film. But, like most early filmmakers, she experienced her fair share of growing pains.

“I made one short that got into our school’s ‘New Works’ festival,” she remembers. “But while watching it, I realized that the girl who had done the editing hadn’t synced up the last minute of video and sound. It was really frustrating to see.”

It was around that time that Chisholm began to delve into the editing process herself. “I began editing in my sophomore year and have been obsessed with that ever since. Writing, directing, and editing.”

reelgrrls-logo

Reel Grrls

It was through this love of editing that Chisholm found herself joining Reel Grrls, an all-girls filmmaking group offering Adobe training. Taking the Adobe program made Chisholm eligible to apply for Adobe’s Youth Voices Scholarship, a worldwide contest granting scholarships to 25 winners to further their education.

As part of her application, Chisholm created and submitted a one-minute film entitled Black Beauty in the White Gaze. The piece dealt with society’s tendency to view beauty through the ideals of the white community, often showing disrespect to black women. The piece struck a chord with judges and Chisholm became a 2015 Adobe Creative Scholar.

adobe youth voices

At that point, Chisholm began to research different film schools in New York City, where she knew she wanted to live. When comparing schools, the DFA’s offer of free use of equipment, including a RED camera, registered as a huge perk other schools weren’t offering. Once visiting the school, Chisholm just felt it “seemed like (her) scene.” She moved from Seattle to live with her best friend and began studying at the DFA in August 2015.

Now fully immersed in her DFA courses, Chisholm talks about her professors – all industry professionals – and how their classes have resonated with her. “The cinematography instructor took our class to MoMA to study the different paintings. Once back at the school, we tried to re-create the lighting in those paintings using our equipment,” she recalls. “Also, the directing class is so much fun. Every week, we’re directing a different scene.

“(As film professionals), the instructors are able to offer great insights into the industry.”

painting to film
Girl With a Pearl Earring: a high profile example of capturing the light in a painting on film.

I want challenges, to be able to work in different genres

In addition to continuing with her web series, Chisholm hopes to be able to make a living doing what she loves. “I want challenges, to be able to work in different genres,” she confides. “I don’t want to get stuck in a ‘practical’ job.”

Most importantly, Chisholm has something many filmmakers just starting out don’t have: a clear mission.

“I want to explore narratives that aren’t usually told, amplify voices that are usually not heard,” she says. “Someday, if I reach that point, I want to be able to open doors and offer opportunities for others. Help film to diversify as much as possible.”

We have no doubt she will succeed.

Helpful links:

Ayanda Chisholm’s Website: http://www.ayandachisholm.com/

Reel Grrls: http://reelgrrls.org/

Adobe Creative Scholars Announcement: http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2015/07/adobe-creativity-scholars-spotlight-learning-self-acceptance.html

Blog post by Sara McDermott Jain

DFA Student Spotlight: Jose Martinez

 

Years ago, Jose Martinez took an intensive, one-month filmmaking course. He gained filmmaking experience, but quickly realized that in order to keep the ball rolling on his career, he needed to connect with like-minded people with whom he could collaborate on future film projects.

When he found the Digital Film Academy, he knew it was the right place for building that kind of community.

“I developed a really good network at the DFA,” he says. “We all help each other out with our different projects, help to move one another forward in our careers.”

 

Martinez and friends from the DFA, wrapping up a shoot.
Martinez and friends from the DFA, wrapping up a shoot.

 

Thanks to his prior filmmaking experience, Martinez was able to enter the Advanced Digital Filmmaking Program. In addition to connecting him with a group of filmmakers at his same level, the program offered another big perk: free access to a Red camera. Martinez has been able to make good use of this, checking out the Red for shoots.

Currently, Martinez is working as both a photographer and videographer, and bringing in enough income that he no longer needs a full-time, regular job. He’s done work at weddings, parties, for restaurants, and even capturing images for business cards.

He’s also working on the completion of his thesis film for the DFA, a short about a young man’s internal struggle about whether or not to seek revenge after his brother is shot by a local gang on their walk home from school. “I love stories, and getting to see them come together during the process of shooting and editing,” he says. “My favorite things are operating the camera and editing. Magic happens there.”

 

DFA students using the school's Red camera.
DFA students using the school’s Red camera.

 

Magic aside, the most challenging aspect of working on his thesis was shooting a scene at a gas station – not the easiest spot to set up a film crew in the bustling metropolis of New York City. Apart from the noise (a common on-set problem even in “quiet” locations), Martinez’s cast and crew had to be ready to go at 7a.m. on a Sunday, the only time the gas station would allow them to shoot.

Despite these occasional challenges, Martinez’s love of stories is beginning to take him places, both in his film career and literally. He recently got back from a 3-month trip throughout Central America, where he was both scouting locations for future shoots and shooting commercials for a telephone company in El Salvador.

claro

 

“The company is called Claro,” Martinez says. “My cousin does administrative work there.” When his cousin heard about Claro’s need for a filmmaker, he was quick to suggest Martinez.

The gig is another valuable step towards Martinez’s future goal: developing his own home production company.

When asked what advice he would give to young filmmakers just starting out, Martinez simply says: “Keep shooting, keep uploading.”

We look forward to him doing more of the same!

 

To view his work, please visit http://www.josemmartinez.com/.

 

Blog post by Sara McDermott Jain