Tag Archives: filmmaking

10 Reasons to Make the Move to Atlanta

Many production companies are making the move to Atlanta. Some examples of recent movies shot in Atlanta include: Hawkeye, Spider-man: No Way Home, Red Notice, and Jungle Cruise. Atlanta is also a hotspot for television series including: Stranger Things, Ozark, and The Walking Dead. So, should you make the move? We’ve made a list of ten reasons to make the move and kickstart your career in Atlanta. 

Montage of film productions shot in Atlanta. In order: Hawkeye, Spider-man: No Way Home, Red Notice, and Jungle Cruise, Stranger Things, Ozark, and The Walking Dead.

Tax Incentive

The state of Georgia offers a 20% tax incentive to production companies who complete production and post-production in their state. This is advantageous for creatives looking to budget their work effectively.

Multiple Established Production Companies

Secondly, Atlanta is already home to many production companies including LionStar Films, CNN, and Carbon Film making it a well-established film and media city. Having these well established companies makes breaking into the industry easier.

Employment Opportunities

Because Atlanta is currently hosting production companies and film projects, there are jobs to be filled every day with the job market increasing every year. You might find that Atlanta has more opportunity than NYC or LA where the competition is massive.

Casting

Atlanta is home to a diverse population of people and that is reflected in the casting coming out of the city. You will have talented actors from many different backgrounds auditioning for your projects. Perhaps you’d like to step in front of the camera, too? Atlanta is a great starter city for an actor to build their career.

Tourism

Atlanta tourism brings in more attention and money to the city every year. There is plenty to do from watching theatre productions to eating at award winning restaurants.

Landscape

Aside from the entertainment, the land itself brings exciting views and great shots for a filmmaker. Georgia has it all from suburban neighborhoods, city buildings, farm land, and space to build. (Everything but an ocean…)

Creative Communities

Atlanta is full of artists from different fields such as theatre, fine arts, filmmaking, and dance. Having artistic communities right next door allows you to build connections with like minded creatives. Who knows, maybe you could find a group to make a short film or series?

Low Living Expenses

Compared to Los Angeles, Atlanta’s cost of living is affordable. Georgia’s rent prices run lower than the rest of the country making rent manageable. Find a roommate or two and you are saving A LOT of money!

Location

This southern city is still centrally located and a major US city. You have access to all major flights through Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport and driving is a breeze compared to LA.

Education with Digital Film Academy

At Digital Film Academy, we see the value of having an educational institution in the fastest growing film production area in the country. We want you to succeed and we do that by giving you the tools you need to thrive in the digital media industry. 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.

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3 Ways to be Professional

Profile view at young African-American sound mixer wearing headphones while editing at home recording studio.

Let’s talk about professionalism. We often hear that we need to “be professional” on set but what does that really mean? We’ve broken it down into 3 ways to be professional: be kind, listen, and focus.  

Be Kind.

For the first example, we have Martin Scorsese whose birthday was earlier last week and his words give us a sense of the type of people he wants to be around on set as a film professional.

“And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve had more of a tendency to look for people who live by kindness, tolerance, compassion, a gentler way of looking at things.” –  Martin Scorsese

No one likes to work with someone who is angry or intolerant all the time because it can create a negative work environment. For this reason, having a positive attitude and displaying kindness conveys something to those around you and sets up a more positive environment to film.

Listen.

So, why is listening important? Martin Scorsese has another quote for this:

“Now more than ever we need to talk to each other, to listen to each other and understand how we see the world, and cinema is the best medium for doing this.” ― Martin Scorsese

Professionalism doesn’t always mean being the loudest voice in the room. Sometimes, you need to step back and really listen to what others on set are saying. Practicing active listening and responding to ideas is a great way to convey professionalism on set.

Focus.

Lastly, focusing on your goals will help everyone to stay on the same page. This includes time management and communication. Eliminate outside distractions and focus on the task at hand. Sometimes, the simple solution is actually the most concise and important one. 

And we’ll leave you with a final quote about simplicity: 

“There’s no such thing as simple. Simple is hard.” — Martin Scorsese

Digital Film Academy is here to help you become a more well-rounded and marketable film professional through our Associates Program and our Advanced Certificate Program.

We have Pre-Production classes with leading professionals in the industry who will help you to excel with practical experience. Our Post-Production classes includes learning from the top editing softwares like Davinci Resolve, Avid, Pro-Tools, and After Effects; giving you professional experience from your own computer. 

Join us for our next Open House Tuesday November 23rd at 6pm EST. You can sign up here: 

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Call Your Own Shots

A black man operating a Red camera, calling his own shots. Two other man setting up a different camera in the background.

Have you found it difficult to find work during the pandemic? Are you scrolling through work pages waiting for the next opportunity to come along? Do you miss having the power to call your own shots?

Let’s talk about creating your own work. 

Instead of waiting for opportunities to pass you by, why not pick up a camera and shoot something of your own? Get together with some friends and write a short film or a web series and get it on camera.

Creating your own work comes with many benefits… it gets your name out there, stretches your creative muscles, and gives you hands-on experience with equipment and working with other like-minded people in the field. 

Maybe it’s time to step in front of the camera and try your hand at acting. If you have stage fright and want to stay behind the camera, try having a brainstorming session about new and creative ways to tell a story. There are plenty of ways to get involved in building your own creative career. 

How can DFA help?

At Digital Film Academy, you are set up for success with everything you need to become your own production company.

We have an Associates Program that gives you equipment to own (yours forever, no joke), included in the tuition and that’s in addition to our lifetime access to equipment that you will gain through the school.

This allows you to create your own work, anytime, anywhere. We have multiple classes such as Directing, Cinematography, Screenwriting, Video Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Design, Producing, etc. Having a diverse curriculum gives you the opportunity to learn all facets of filmmaking making you more marketable and experienced. 

Come learn more about how we can help you jumpstart your career, by joining our Online Open House.

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Leadership is hard

A camera operator and two other people from the camera crew are adjusting the camera for the next shot.

I’m not going to speak directly about the tragedy that happened during the filming of Rust because it’s too soon for us to know the exact truth of what happened. But I will say that regardless of the details, Halyna Hutchin’s death was entirely preventable, and it was a failure of leadership. 

And I’m not blaming Alec Baldwin, because again, it’s too soon to say, and I’m not even looking for one person to blame. Because the truth is, the failure in leadership happened among many people. The leader is the person in charge, but everyone can embody the concept of leadership, all the way down to the bottom of the food chain. A good PA has leadership skills. A good actor can be a good leader. The camera crew who walked from the set that morning had leadership in them.

Leadership is the ability to stand up for what is right when the people around you aren’t. It can mean being “the bad guy” and making the people under you follow safety requirements they don’t want to. And it can mean standing up to the people above you who want you to do something unsafe. Leadership works in all directions, not just top down. 

And it’s not going to make you a popular person. Very few people are going to appreciate you, though many will benefit from you. 

There are a lot of pressures in the film world, and people are going to ask you to do things quickly and cheaply, but please, if it’s unsafe, say no. Value your life and the lives of others above ANY project. Enough people have died.

So how do you know what’s the right thing to do? 

If you choose to come to DFA you will have production management classes. Besides learning how to make schedules and budgets for your films, you’ll learn the appropriate person that should be present for stunts, weapons, crowd control, car setups, etc. So even if you don’t go into the production-side of things, you’ll be able to recognize when things are being handled appropriately and when corners are being cut. Safety on set is always a priority and DFA values that above all things.

If you’re interested in learning more about our school, join us for our next Online Open House.

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We’re changing, are you?

Students working as a film crew, directing, operating the camera and recording sound at Central Park in New York.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”

– Rita Mae Brown (not Einstein, I checked)


Everything around us is constantly changing, and that’s never been more true. I’ll throw another quote at you:

“For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled”

– Bob Dylan


The best way to succeed is to be on the forefront of change. And that’s what we’re doing. Digital Film Academy is always on the lookout for how we can change to better serve our students. We’ve pivoted to a hybrid learning environment that allows our busy students to do most of their classes remotely. We bring our seasoned professors to you, wherever you are. 

We’ve designed an entirely new Associates Program that gives you equipment to own (yours forever, no joke), included in the tuition. That means that as you’re building your portfolio, working on school projects, or working with clients, you’ve got everything you need. You become your own production company. When you’re learning the equipment you have it there, in your hands. We did this because it’s the best way for you to learn and that’s our top priority. 

We’ve adapted our hands-on classes so that we can still deliver the essentials, while keeping our students safe. We just finished our intensive 3 week summer classes that had students performing in real life scenarios. From shooting walk-and-talks in Central Park to dramatic dollys in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. 

Our mission is and always has been to prepare you to make money and we’re always looking for new ways to do that better. 

Maybe it’s time you think about making a change? 

Come to one of our Open Houses and see if we can’t help you take a step in a new direction.

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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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Overcoming Limitations

Overcoming Limitations and make great media

I’m a firm believer that everyone is capable of making really great media. So where does all the bad media come from? Limitations. People are limited by budgets, availability, time, weather, and global pandemics. The thing stopping us from making great media isn’t a lack of ability. It’s the outside pressures pulling at our attention, telling us “no”. 

So how can DFA help?

We help you overcome the limitations in a number of ways. With Pre-Production, making sure you know exactly what you need and how to get it.  DFA students have access to professional equipment for life. So even long after you’ve graduated you’ll still be able to use our equipment for Production, reducing budget limitations considerably.
And finally through Post-Production. In response to Covid-19 DFA has made our cutting-edge computers accessible remotely online. So you can edit in Davinci Resolve, Avid, Pro-Tools, After Effects, and many other softwares from the safety of your own home, and your client can dial in and go over the project with you live, from anywhere in the world! 

When you study at DFA you have every resource at your fingertips to turn yourself into a lean mean filmmaking machine. Someone who can navigate the hurdles in your way to deliver clean powerful content. 

If you’d like to find out more, please join us for an Online Open House (complete the form to add your name to the guest list, then watch your inbox for the confirmation email) Thursday February 18th @ 1pm EST, or check us out online at any of the links below and see if we’re a good fit for you.

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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?

DFA Student Spotlight: Jimmy Zdolshek

When he was only in high school, Jimmy Zdolshek’s video production teacher encouraged him to participate in “SkillsUSA,” an organization that sponsors a competition to promote career and technical development. When the short Zdolshek completed within 6 hours as part of the contest went on to win 1st place, Zdolshek says it was one of the best moments of his entire life. The short then moved on to the National competition, where it placed 13th.

Zdolshek's first place medal.
Zdolshek’s first place medal.

“I knew then that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” he says.

Settled on his future career, Zdolshek began to search for a school that would help take his filmmaking to the next level, without breaking the bank.

“I didn’t want to go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt,” he laughs. “Also, I wanted real hands-on experience, freedom to work with the equipment.”

Zdolshek on set at the DFA.
Zdolshek (back left) on set with his fellow students at the DFA.

When he discovered the Digital Film Academy, it was the perfect match. The school’s low tuition, coupled with its policy of allowing students free access to all equipment needed for a shoot both during their schooling and after graduation, made it exactly what Zdolshek was looking for.

Additionally, given his background in film, Zdolshek was able to enter the DFA’s One Year Advanced Digital Filmmaking Program. This was another factor in his decision-making.

Zdolshek making use of the DFA's green screen.
Zdolshek making use of the DFA’s green screen.

Currently at the DFA, Zdolshek is developing two short film projects that he wrote. For the one, “Stay Your Course, Young Man,” he was thrilled to get the rights to the music of the same name by Sylvan Lacue and Jon Bellion. Getting rights to music to include in his films is a skill that he began developing even with his high school projects.

“It’s not as hard as most people think,” he says. “A lot of the bands I like are more underground. I get their emails and we work something out. Most bands are willing to compromise, especially if you’re working without a budget!”

NatGeo_img04
National Geographic Explorer.

In other areas of his career, Zdolshek has gotten to see more significant budgets at work. He just completed an internship with Market Road Films, working on National Geographic’s Explorer, the longest-running documentary series in history. While there, he got to do development and post-production work. He also got to work on Blood Antiquities, a series about ISIS trading in the Western market.

“One of my favorite things was when I got to handpick the stills from Blood Antiquities to send to the network for the IMDB page,” he says. “I got to work closely with the director.”

A still image from Blood Antiquities.
A still image from Blood Antiquities.

Just this past month, he began another high-profile internship, this time with Backroads Entertainment, which creates shows that have been featured on channels like A&E, MTV, MTV2, E!, the Travel Channel, Lifetime, and more. Recently, he got to put together a playlist for famed rapper 50 Cent.

When asked what advice he would have for filmmakers just starting out, Zdolshek says: “Just get your ideas off the ground. Sit to write, go into production, and execute it the way you want… Work as hard as you can, watch and read as many films and scripts as you can, and make as many things as you can.”

“And, oh, remember,” he adds. “Film comes first in life. Film first. Food second.”

Zdolshek in a short he co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in with fellow student Eli Turk.
Zdolshek in a short he co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in with fellow student Eli Turk.

To view the trailer to Zdolshek’s short Sleepwalker, please click here.

Blog by Sara McDermott Jain

5 Things to Consider When Making a Short Film

There’s never been a better time to make short films. Not only do most film festivals have short film categories, but platforms like YouTube have made it possible to actually monetize shorts.

Particularly if you’re just beginning your film career, there’s no better way to start than making a short film. This film can become your calling card, helping you get into festivals, make connections, and find meaningful work in the film industry.

So what do you need to keep in mind when making a short film?

https://gladlydo.wordpress.com/2015/07/13/5-places-you-need-to-re-organize-in-your-home/messy-basement/
There’s gotta be something in your parents’ creepy basement you can use.

1. What do you have?

First, take a look at what you have. It’s extremely hard to get funding (other than what you’re putting up) for a short. This is ten times as true if it’s your first. As a result, you’re going to want to look at what you already have at your disposal. Unless some kind of cool set is available for free, set your story someplace easily accessible. Unless you have a friend who’s a special effects or make-up whiz and willing to work cheap, don’t plan for a lot of special effects. Look at what you have and be creative with how you use it. After you make it big, then you can make a film that has everything you want!

 http://www.empoweredspouse.com/killer-blogging-tricks/
‘Nuff said.

2. Tight script

What makes a short film shoot last for days and days while the budget goes through the roof? Tons of locations and tons of characters. More locations and characters mean more traveling, more set-ups, and more coverage that you need to get. If, instead, your script has one or two locations and one or two characters (and comes in under ten pages), you can get it shot in one or two days.

http://www.stayup.com/artwork.html
Six different shots in what will be about two seconds of film. Would you be able to figure that out on-the-spot?

3. Storyboards and shot lists

Don’t think you can arrive on set and just wing it. Filmmaking is a complicated medium, and one that requires a lot of collaboration. To that end, everything will go more smoothly if everyone has the same, clear set of guidelines to follow – and if all the shots have been thought through in advance. Create storyboards to go along with the script so that everyone can visualize what you need, and top it off with a shot list listing the shots you need to get. You can check them off as you get each one and be sure not to leave the set minus what you came for.

http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-cya-23/
Advice in filmmaking… and life.

4. Get the coverage!

It’s every filmmaker’s nightmare. You’ve spent time and money to shoot your film only to realize in the editing room that you didn’t get enough coverage. Coverage refers to getting enough shots to be able to edit the film together in a way that appears seamless. If you haven’t gotten enough coverage, you might find there’s no good way to edit together two shots without it jarring the audience. Shoot wide shots, medium shots, close-ups, and inserts of various objects – along with whatever other clever shots you come up with! That way, you’ll have lots to choose from.

bad editing

5. Put it all together

Editing can be a brutal process, so make sure your footage is clearly organized so you can find what you’re looking for. This will save you from wasting lots of time.  Each minute of finished film will take hours to edit, so be mentally prepared for that fact. And if you do make it to this point only to realize you didn’t get what you needed to put together a decent short film, chalk it up to a learning experience, get back out there, and shoot, shoot again!

Can’t wait to see what you come up with in your short films. If you have any other tips/suggestions, leave them in the comments!

Happy filming!

Blog by: Sara McDermott Jain


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