Tag Archives: film

Work Smarter

There’s lots of hard workers out there. But they’re not all successful. You have to learn how to work smarter, not just harder.

What are the missing elements? 

1) Improve your methods. 

Working hard is wasted if you’re not working smart. What does that mean? That means being efficient. Taking the time to question your methods and find the best way to accomplish a given task. 

2) You have to value your hard work.

If you don’t value your own time and efforts, most people won’t volunteer to. You’ve got to know what you’re worth and expect others to act accordingly. 

3) Find the people who value and support your hard work. 
Some people will take advantage of your hard work. Others will resent your hard work. But if you keep looking, eventually you’ll find people who will give their best along with you and together, the sky’s the limit. #findyourcrew

What does that have to do with us? 

1) We put cutting edge equipment in your hands. 

When you have great equipment, you’re able to work efficiently. If you join our Associate’s program, it includes ownership of a Zoom F6, whose 32 floating bit technology simplifies audio recording, making you more efficient.

2) With us you will learn how to self promote. 

Our Career Portfolio class teaches you how to show the world what you’ve got and what you’re worth. It teaches you how to create your own website and significant online presence, the best self promotion tools available nowadays.

3) Your success is our success. 


We’ve built ourselves around the idea that film students deserve more. They deserve ongoing support, including after graduation. All DFA students and graduates have lifetime access to our equipment, facilities, and exclusive Jobs Board.

If you’d like to hear more, join us for an Open House. If you’re in the Atlanta area, we’re excited to invite you to our first in person Open House at our new Atlanta Campus, located in the heart of downtown! You can also attend online through zoom.

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Don’t Trade Your Future for those Film Schools

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article titled “Financially Hobbled for Life” in which they talk about film school graduates who leave their programs $100K – $300k in debt. Now these were master’s degrees, but this problem impacts graduates at all levels. 

It’s. Not. Worth. It.

No one in the film and media industry cares about a fancy degree. They want people who know how to function on set. You can get that experience without going into massive debt. So don’t trade your future for those Film Schools.

DFA programs are designed to give you exactly what you need to be able to make money. We teach you the essential skills, we give you lifetime access to our equipment and facilities, and we do this for a fraction of the cost of other schools. 

Film and Media affordable programs

We succeed when you succeed. It’s been our driving force for the 20 years we’ve been educating students.

Whether you’re interested in Directing, Cinematography, Screenwriting, Editing, Sound Recording, Producing or VFX. We teach you how to work in every area of the film/television industry, while allowing you to specialize in your preferred path.

If you would like to know more about our school and programs, come check us out in one of our Open Houses

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The Darling Buds of May

Summer is almost here!

And even if it’s true that ‘rough winds do shake the darling buds of May’, after a whole year of COVID 19 and pandemic we’ll take it.

Life was on pause before. Now is the time to unpause and launch your plan for world domination in media production and film! And what better way to evolve into this next chapter of your life than with an Associate of Science Degree in Digital Media?

film crew, may programs

Our new Associate Degree in Digital Media gives each student a fantastic equipment kit (valued at $10,000+), yours to keep for life. The list includes a Blackmagic 6K camera, Canon M50 camera, Sound Recording Equipment, Lighting Kit, etc. Take a look at the full equipment list here.

May Programs

Our May programs have literally just begun and today, May 13th 2021, our new group of media students are all boldly moving on to their third day of classes!
All have chosen to embark on this new year of rigorous training in media production and filmmaking techniques.

Students who choose to study at Digital Film Academy can opt for our New York City or Atlanta (Georgia) locations. The Associate of Science Degree Classes can be taken from either campus location. Currently our classes are starting online with the hope and expectation that we will be back to full in-person classes in September (to be confirmed).

Get the proper training in Cinematography, Sound Recording, Directing, Video Editing, Screenwriting and all aspects of professional media training you always wanted.

Interested to jump on board and join our May classes? There is still time to join! Digital Film Academy has a 14-day late start period. For any classes you have missed we’ll give you access to video recordings. No one begins at a disadvantage.

Later today – Thursday May 13th at 1 p.m. EST – we’ll be holding our next Online Open House / Free Demo Class. Jump on our Zoom call and join the group: watch, listen, ask questions. Add your name to the guest list here: https://www.digitalfilmacademy.edu/open-house/.

5 lessons from Francis Ford Coppola

For Coppola’s 82nd birthday, after almost 60 years of filmmaking, we’ve tried to extract some wisdom.

1) Don’t Give Up


Coppola almost got fired three times while filming The Godfather. But he didn’t quit, delivering a film most consider one of the greatest of all time.

2) Don’t Be Afraid of Change

 “I have seen movies change from devastating to wonderful in my life. And those changes could be made in a day”

In a recent interview to Vulture, Coppola said that when The Godfather Part II was previewed in San Francisco the audience was indifferent. 
That night, he made 121 changes, which is unheard of, because the sound edit was already completed and altering an already mixed movie, with music, is incredibly difficult. 
But three days later they previewed it again in San Diego and the audience reacted completely differently, and this ended up being the edit that we’ve come to love today.

3) Seize Every Opportunity, Even If It Scares You.

After making The Godfather II, Coppola pivoted to a completely different genre with Apocalypse Now and encountered an entirely new set of obstacles. 

“I didn’t know how to shoot helicopter sequences or such large-scale pyrotechnics. Then I had a lot of natural issues to deal with — the weather, the typhoons, and Marty’s heart attack (Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack while on the set of Apocalypse Now. Pushed to physical and emotional limits by Coppola while filming, he also experienced a full mental breakdown.)

4) The Emotion Is What Counts

“I mean any real Italian knows that Vito Corleone would never be called Don Corleone. You would call him Don Vito. I’m Don Francesco, I am not Don Coppola. What came out in Mario (the author of the Godfather book) was a natural understanding he had of the family.”

5) Cast Based On What Your Gut Tells You

Francis Ford Coppola has an eye for talent. He has cast either people who were at the beginning of their careers or total unknowns who went on to become huge stars — James Caan, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Jim Carrey…

His advice is to cast whoever got stuck in your head. 

“Say you go to a party, and you meet several dozen people. There’s always someone the next day that you’re still thinking about, who stuck with you. Obviously, when you’re young, it might be a woman. Or it just might be some old guy who said something. But something sticks, and you don’t know why. That’s how I cast.” 

If you’re passionate about making meaningful content (while supporting yourself financially), Digital Film Academy might be the right place for you. Our goal is to help our students become successful storytellers and we don’t take that goal lightly.  

DFA offers lifetime equipment access to all students and graduates that qualify. We give you all the training, and the tools for you to put your best ideas out there. You will learn the ways to successfully navigate the business side of the industry so you don’t get lost in the sea of idealistic artists. 

If you want to learn more about our programs, classes and schedules, sign up for one of our Online Open Houses, we would love to have you there.

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DFA Blog

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!

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.

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


Film Fest: 4 Things Learned (That Made Me a Better Filmmaker)

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For the past year, I’ve been organizing a film festival. Every thing every one warned me about is true: it did take over my life, it is a ton of work, and I am seeing films in my sleep at this point.

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But there are a lot of perks that nobody mentioned, and right at the top of the list is the fact that, watching all those submissions, I learned how to better submit – and even make – my films.

Basically, submissions fall into the following categories:

  • Gotta have ‘em (about 5%)
  • Keep ‘em away from me (about 5%)
  • Wish I could put it in, but it wouldn’t make sense because of X, Y, and Z (90%!)

So, to help you get your films into that top 5% of guaranteed-to-make-the-cut, here are a few pointers I picked up:

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1.  KEEP IT SHORT!!! I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before – I’ve heard it before, many times. But until I put together my final schedule, I didn’t really GET IT.

If a submission’s 3 minutes long, it’s easy to fit in. If it’s 10 minutes, still pretty easy… once it gets to be over 15 minutes, it starts to become impossible. And this rule goes for features too! If it’s 60 to 90 minutes – I can work with it. But 2 hours? Unless it’s INCREDIBLE, I can’t justify it.

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Most screening blocks are two hours long. If you submit a two-hour film, you’re asking me to schedule ONLY your film for an entire screening block. If there’s an equally worthy film that’s 90 minutes and lets me fit in a few shorts, too, well… that’s that.

2.  Be Original. You’re thinking: “I am original!” Well, the way you execute your story might be original, but make sure the story’s really original, too. How many other films about angst-ridden teenagers are there going to be? I definitely made cuts based on the fact that multiple films were telling basically the same story. Films telling stories I hadn’t seen anywhere else stood a way better chance.

3.  Consider Your Audience. Most people don’t bother to check out a fest’s mission statement, but they should. It’s just not worth the time and money it takes to submit to something where, even if you are great, you just don’t fit their vision. In the final hour, there’s always way more films the programmers wish they could schedule than they have time for, and they’re going to be looking for any reason to help them make a tough decision.

4.  Cover letter. I’ll be honest – I’ve never written a cover letter when submitting to fests. And I’m not alone, because neither did about 80% of our submitters. I guess people figure that their films speak for themselves? But now that I’ve been on the other side of it, let me drive this home: COVER LETTERS MATTER. Not if they’re just a repeat of your film summary, but if they tell us why you want to be part of OUR festival. If you’re the only one out of ten possible films to reassure us that you believe in our mission and, if selected, will attend and promote the festival – it’s going to nudge you toward a yes.

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There you have it – my top 4 pointers. If you follow these, I promise, your chances of being accepted at any fest will go up at least 50%.

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And if you’re curious to see what made the cut for our fest – check us out at http://www.princetonindependentfilmfestival.com!

Written By: Sara McDermott

5 Rules of Successful Crowd-funding Campaigns

Everyone wants to crowd-fund to raise money for their film projects… but few people know how to put a good campaign together. Here’s everything you need to know!

Calendar

Set the Smallest Goal Over the Shortest Period of Time

Sorry if you want to raise a million dollars, but remember: $10k is the tipping point with crowdfunding. Asking for more than that gives you a drastically reduced chance of reaching your goal.

That being said, be realistic about how much money you need. As an indie filmmaker: what’s the smallest amount of money that makes this film possible?

Also, be realistic about the campaigning time-frame. This doesn’t mean leaving it open for six months, assuming that by then, it’ll all trickle in… the opposite is true.

Campaigns less than 30 days do better. Why? A campaign gets the most attention at the beginning and at the end. By keeping the campaign shorter, the buzz remains steady throughout and you keep excitement among supporters high – which leads to more shares, more likes, and more cash.

Another note about the time frame? Avoid launching when people have to pay rent or taxes. Aim to launch after they’ve gotten their paychecks.

Friends

Have Over 1000 FB Friends

Try to hit 1000 Facebook friends before crowd-funding. Success isn’t just based on how many people contribute, but also on how many people SHARE your story with others. A plea for shares often finds help when a plea for cash alone doesn’t – and the more FB friends you have, logically, the more shares you get.

Also remember, when deciding which crowd-funding platform to use: Kickstarter integrates with Facebook, making some things easier. However, Indiegogo will give you ANY funds you raise (minus a higher percentage) while Kickstarter will return funds to backers if your goal isn’t met. Carefully weigh your options.

Camera

Have a 50/50 Video

A no-brainer, but campaigns with video are 20-30% more likely to reach their goals. Videos shouldn’t go over 2 minutes and should be 50% about the project and 50% about the creator. When it comes to crowd-funding, people are as interested in the person behind the goal as anything else – so make your personal story a good one.

multitask

Keep Backers Posted and Respond to Activity

Keep backers up-to-date! This helps them feel appreciated and keeps them excited – and more likely to spread the word about your project.

They should receive a weekly email newsletter that contains a funding update, an update on any new content added to your page (announcements about new actors joining the cast, etc.), any mentions you’ve had in the press, and, most importantly, a call to action! Always ask them to share your page with others.

Hand in hand with this, respond to activity on your page in real time (read: within 6 hours.) This doesn’t just mean giving a ‘like’ to nice comments, but also dealing with any negativity in a professional way – especially when it appears publicly. Also, every time a donation is made, give the backer a shout-out on social media: an immediate reward!

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Post-Campaign Like a Champ

Thank every backer individually, and don’t screw up the delivery of rewards! These are the items you’ve promised in exchange for money. DVDs, posters, etc. – they should go out when you said they would, and be what you promised.

Finally, make good on your biggest promise – get this film made, and use ALL the funds you earned campaigning. If you earned more than your goal, don’t treat yourself to a spa day – put it toward this project. But hey, a bigger-than-expected budget? What a great problem to have!

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain

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