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From Photography to Cinematography - Is school worth it?


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#1 Doug Stoveken

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 11:14 PM

Hi everyone. I was encouraged to come to this forum by someone in hopes that I might get some opinions and suggestions.

Here's my situation. I graduated with a BFA where I concentrated in Photography in 2008. The job market has been less than supportive for what I'm looking to work in. I figured that expanding my skill set would be a great way to make me more marketable. Since the state schools in NJ are pretty reasonable (and since I would be just commuting, which saves a ton of money) I applied to a Video Production program and was accepted for Fall 2009. The tuition would be ~$5k a semester, and my parents would be fine with that. Long story short, I already hold an undergraduate degree from one of their other campuses, so I could concentrate just on the major itself, which would be a two year program ending up at $20k.

I don't exactly know how it happened, but NYFA popped up on my radar. This Fall, they're starting a One Year Cinematography program for the first time. With my strong background in still photography (which for the past 3-4 years has been my passion), and my interest in Cinematography itself, I feel that this would be a great opportunity to get training in a job I think I could perform well in.

The 1 year NYFA Cinematography program would cost about $35k with film / processing and traveling costs figured in. I'd live in NJ, so the commute would be about 3 hours a day, I think I can hack it.

http://www.nyfa.com/...ematography.php

There's a link to the layout of the program. If you could tell me your thoughts on the NYFA program, that would be great. I know the money is a lot, but I don't see any other options for a concentrated, hands-on Cinematography without paying close to $60,000+.

I have about a week to consider where I want to go. The NJ School would be 7 academic classes (all centered around TV and Media studies) and maybe 8 studio classes with internships involved. The program would concentrate on "News and Documentary" production. Its not exactly what I'm aiming to do, but my original idea applying to this school was to learn video production / editing so that I could find work in NYC around Art and Photography studios.

The advantage of going to the state school would be the free time I would have. Less traveling and a less demanding workload would leave time for me to work outside the class either at a part time job or on other art projects.

The advantage I see to going to NYFA would be really learning about something I'm interested in, within a pretty rigorous program. When I was in art school, I put my life into it. Everything else came second, and I know what it's like to sleep 4 hours a day and be up for 18-20 hours the next day, knowing I'll have to do it again.

I'm really so sorry if this seems scatter-brained. I tried to fill in as much blanks as possible so you could give me your opinions. I'm not naming the NJ school because I'm not so worried about how you feel about the school itself, just the program I described. I mainly want to hear your opinions on the 1 Year NYFA program.

Thank you so much.
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#2 XiaoSu Han

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 12:50 AM

I am not sure if you've considered it at all, but for $35K you could live a year off that plus spend a little bit on that to help produce a film which you shoot. And then apply for more shoots. And more. And more.

That I think is much better than a 1-year programme. And it fulfills everything you want in this sentence:

"I know the money is a lot, but I don't see any other options for a concentrated, hands-on Cinematography without paying close to $60,000+. "

There's your option.

On the other hand, if you think you might need a school, I don't think NYFA is the right choice. Maybe someone here could elaborate further.

more info: http://www.reduser.n...ead.php?t=32499
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#3 Doug Stoveken

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 04:49 AM

Oh, I forgot to add that NYU has a One Semester Cinematography program for about $4000. Less money, but I would assume also less in-depth. If anyone has any experience with NYU and could share, that would be great.


There's a number of reasons why most of the reviews of NYFA don't help me much. Many of them have been quite vague. Calling the school a 'scam' without much reasoning never helps. Not differentiating which campus they went to also doesn't help. From the many sites I've been to, MANY reviews have been dated at least 5 years ago. Besides, with the Cinematography course being new this year, it's hard to tell if its worth it unless I get a review of the film making program from someone who's graduated within the last year or two.


I've seen lots of suggestions stating it would be better to just work on a set for free. Well, as tempting as that sounds, I have no idea how to even get an interview for such a position. I might even prefer that being that it would be much more cost effective, but only if it would be something more engaging than fetching coffee.

If someone knows how I could go about this, I would consider it.
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#4 Doug Stoveken

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Posted 05 August 2009 - 06:46 AM

I didn't really understand how the NYU Certificate Program worked when I last posted. What I was referring to was the "Cinematography Intensive" program, which is most likely designed for people with less time to dedicate to classes. It's 5 days a week for 4 weeks in the fall. They have a different option that encompasses two fall classes meeting once a week each for the whole semester, and another 3 choices for classes in the spring.

http://www.scps.nyu....matography.html

That's the link I got the info from. It's something I'll have to look into a lot more, but it seems like a decent alternative.
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#5 Vivek Marimuthu

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Posted 29 December 2009 - 06:42 PM

I didn't really understand how the NYU Certificate Program worked when I last posted. What I was referring to was the "Cinematography Intensive" program, which is most likely designed for people with less time to dedicate to classes. It's 5 days a week for 4 weeks in the fall. They have a different option that encompasses two fall classes meeting once a week each for the whole semester, and another 3 choices for classes in the spring.

http://www.scps.nyu....matography.html

That's the link I got the info from. It's something I'll have to look into a lot more, but it seems like a decent alternative.



I am interested in the intensive course. My background is that I am working full time in the financial services world and want to learn Cinematography. I have done a few shorts and TVCs but cannot afford the time for a full time course. Would this intensitve course help me? my portfolio is at www.real-eye.blogspot.com to give a view on where I am currently.
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#6 STEVEAUSTIN

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 12:20 AM

From the many sites I've been to, MANY reviews have been dated at least 5 years ago. Besides, with the Cinematography course being new this year, it's hard to tell if its worth it unless I get a review of the film making program from someone who's graduated within the last year or two.
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#7 Dustan Lewis McBain

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 07:27 PM

Im in that cinematography course now. except im taking it as an intensive for the summer. Which i highly recommend. One, if your not from new york you get a reason to come here, and shoot. and B, you make connections here. The teacher I have is also great. However I dont think that this would be the only course you would need in terms of receiving work. However its a good start to building up your CV and Career.
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#8 Stud Bunny

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 03:58 PM

I just found a review by Sanket Dhawan...student of NYFA

I am studying at New York Film Academy to learn filmmaking and directing. Each class has valuable teaching methods and teaches theory and practice. I recommend NYFA to others who want to join the film industry.
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#9 Adam Johnson

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 10:17 AM

Oh, I forgot to add that NYU has a One Semester Cinematography program for about $4000. Less money, but I would assume also less in-depth. If anyone has any experience with NYU and could share, that would be great.


There's a number of reasons why most of the reviews of NYFA don't help me much. Many of them have been quite vague. Calling the school a 'scam' without much reasoning never helps. Not differentiating which campus they went to also doesn't help. From the many sites I've been to, MANY reviews have been dated at least 5 years ago. Besides, with the Cinematography course being new this year, it's hard to tell if its worth it unless I get a review of the film making program from someone who's graduated within the last year or two.


I've seen lots of suggestions stating it would be better to just work on a set for free. Well, as tempting as that sounds, I have no idea how to even get an interview for such a position. I might even prefer that being that it would be much more cost effective, but only if it would be something more engaging than fetching coffee.

If someone knows how I could go about this, I would consider it.

The NYFA is a for-profit "school."  They accept anyone willing to pay.  Yeah, you may learn something but you won't be getting a degree out of it. 


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#10 Mark Dunn

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Posted 19 April 2013 - 11:59 AM

After 4 years, he's probably made his decision.


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#11 Alexandros Angelopoulos Apostolos

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Posted 15 June 2016 - 07:48 AM

The NYFA is a for-profit "school."  They accept anyone willing to pay.  Yeah, you may learn something but you won't be getting a degree out of it. 

 

You won’t?  :blink:


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#12 Vivek Venkatraman

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Posted 27 June 2016 - 03:10 AM

Hi Doug,

 

I see some parallels in our backgrounds so I thought I should weigh in on this thread.

 

I started out as a photographer myself and found going to film school to study cinematography of extreme value. In fact it did even help me grow a lot as a cinematographer and helped me decode what goes into the making of any image still or otherwise.

 

On NYFA

 

It seems like a school thats only interested in making money.

Yes some of the faculty are "world class" etc.

One of my friends in India [ I am from India] did end up going for their 6 month programme at the LA campus.

He claims that he even got well paying jobs after that. [He was paid 300 USD in cash for 6 hours of gaffing etc] unfortunately getting a work VISA for us in the entertainment industry is hard in America. So clearly NYFA has some brand value within America.

 

 

But if you are looking for a budget film school that goes in depth into the subject of cinematography I suggest the FAMU english programme in Prague.

Its reasonably affordable and I have seen fellow students do really good work after that with a much better understanding of cinematography then a brand name school like FAMU.

 

Also worth considering within America are Chapman and the American Film Institute. I am not sure however if these fall into your budget.

 

Any how best of luck !


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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 June 2016 - 11:13 AM

Doug asked this question seven years ago...


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