Worldwide, film production courses have great appeal, and Jack Newman from New York Film Academy (NYFA) offers a reason why. “Film making is the ultimate medium for communication in the 21st century,” he enthuses, adding, “Talented individuals create works that move, motivate... and ultimately entertain an audience.”
NYFA launched in Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Center, New York in 1992, and has since opened another centre in Los Angeles. The academy offers degree programmes lasting one or two years, including in Filmmaking, Production and Cinematography, as well as intensive workshops and summer camps for juniors at locations such as Disney Studios in Florida. With internationals comprising almost half of the student population, NYFA students begin shooting within their first week, Newman attests, adding, “Interest in NYFA programmes has grown year-on-year, especially in Russia, India, Brazil and other developing nations.”
Many schools are adapting their course content to meet technological developments in the industry. While NYFA has included 3D and green screen making, Ravensbourne, a UK HE institution offering bachelor and foundation level film production degrees, has links with Apple Final Cut Pro and Quantel. Meanwhile students at Met Film School, also in the UK, can create moving image content for mobile phone platforms.
Met Film School has seen a drop in non-EU student enrolments since visa changes this year disallowed students to work while studying, as Jonathan Peake highlights. To tackle this, the school launched a new centre in Berlin last month.
“[The school] was founded to provide practical training in all key aspects of filmmaking,” Peake reveals, “to ensure that our students have the right skills to find a job within the industry. The [BA] programme is unique in many respects it’s a three-year programme delivered in just two years. Students make six original films including a narrative short, an experimental film... [and] an original 90-minute feature film.”
Students at Met Film School need an Ielts score of at least 6.5 or equivalent, while at the University of Melbourne’s Filmmaking Summer School in Australia which sees particular interest from the UK and USA there are certain language requirements students must possess, according to Sharon Peers. “Because film is a visual language, participants can be less than totally proficient in English,” she says, “but it’s better if their understanding of English is good, especially for screenwriting.” With the school’s course provision including programmes titled From Script to Screen, Documentary Filmmaking and Writing for Television, students receive a certificate upon completion of programmes that run for 10 days or longer. “Unlike most film courses for beginners, [ours are] taught by Australia’s leading practitioners filmmakers working at the top of the Australian film industry,” Peers highlights, adding, “Because short films are so popular, we are expanding the screenwriting part of the course to include two days of learning how to write good short film scripts.”
And in Germany, students at The Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf (HFF), founded in 1954, need proven German language skills. Despite that programmes including degrees in Cinematography, Scriptwriting and Set Design are not taught in English, overseas students represent 12 per cent of the student body. “In order to accommodate the high division of labour in the media industry and the complex interaction involved in film production,” says Julia Diebel, “[one focus] of the comprehensive education offered by the HFF is placed on the combination of individual courses in interdisciplinary group projects. This enables students to learn how to work in a team under realistic conditions and to develop their availability, flexibility and ability to cooperate.” The school is located on the grounds of Studio Babelsberg, where films such as V for Vendetta and The Bourne Supremacy were produced.
In Italy, programmes at The Florence International Film School are geared towards finding students who can showcase their work at the Florence film festival a career, says Elizabeth Monroy. Clients can choose between a number of certificate programmes, as well as a two-year master’s degree. “This is the final segment where students who successfully complete their intern placement will create a mission statement and marketing plan with their chosen mentor,” says Monroy. “They will return to their country of origin or where they want to live, [and] will then become part of our global job network enabling them to be employed to cover international events and commercial projects. We believe that filmmakers who are successful have distinguished themselves with their own creative voice and have developed their own style.”
Globally, film schools tend to want students that have a proven passion and talent for film production, and many institutions have their own way of finding them. “To find the right candidates we concentrate on promotion measures at specific events,” says Julia Diebel at The Hochschule für Film und Fernsehen Konrad Wolf in Germany, “such as the Berlinale or FMX [film festivals held in Germany]. Furthermore we have established partnerships with various film academies all over the world, which helps our recruitment strategy abroad.” Similarly, The Filmmaking Summer School, which is part of the University of Melbourne in Australia, has links to Australian film bodies and also relies on word-of-mouth, according to Sharon Peers.
Meanwhile, the New York Film Academy (NYFA), USA “has an extensive global network of both NYFA staff and education consultants, developed over the past 20 years, who refer and assist students in the admissions procedures”, as Jack Newman highlights. “NYFA receives requests regularly from new and established education consultants. [The school also] travels the world to attend education fairs and conferences and schedules regular open house events on every continent except Antarctica.”