Tuition award announced for Indian applicants to New York Film Academy


Senior executive vice-president David Klein says that those interested should get exposure to creative arts in any way possible

David Klein, senior executive vice-president of the New York Film Academy (NYFA), was in Bengaluru recently as part of a multi-city tour. The academy, which has five locations worldwide (the Mumbai campus was shut down), can count some big names among its alumni from Paul Dano (soon to be seen as The Riddler) and Lana Condor (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) to Kangana Ranaut (Queen), Gauri Shinde (English Vinglish, Dear Zindagi) and Rakesh Varre (Baahubali 2: The Conclusion). The very approachable and voluble David sat down for a conversation with MetroPlus.


What does the academy look for in applicants?

We always request a creative portfolio and a narrative statement from people applying for the long-term programme. The creative portfolio is just showing their creative work that relates to the field. The narrative statement is about why filmmaking or acting or producing, whatever it is, seems like the appropriate place for them (the applicant). We are looking for the passion first and foremost.

Is there any advice that you would give a potential applicant?

It is a little different depending on the subject, but my recommendation is explore your craft in some way. If you are interested in being an actor in films and you don’t have the opportunity to act in films, expose yourself to it. Do a school play, do a community play... Because you get some experience with it and you get to really understand if you like it. If you have never done it before, you could think you like it, but not realise what it takes.

Get exposure to the creative arts in any way possible to know what your vision is, what your interest is, or what you find interesting and don’t. That is going to help you decide what you want to study. And once you get there, what you want to focus on in terms of the type of work you want to do. Don’t wait to start doing what you think you might like to do.

NYFA’s tuition award for Indian students
  • NYFA has created this award programme for Indian students for 2020. Under it, 50 tuition awards will be granted. This means 20% off on the tuition fee for any of the long-term courses that we offer. The whole idea is that we know that there is an audience of Indian students who want to learn this and to study in the United States but may have financial challenges. We want to give them the opportunity to be able to do that.
  • Students will have to apply to the programme in which they have an interest and apply for the tuition award. They will be able to do that through our representative in India. The major element of the application is going to be an essay in which the student has to express why they want to go into filmmaking, what it is that draws them to it, what it is about them that they think is valuable as a film artist, and why they want to come to this programme.

There has been a lot of talk lately on what constitutes cinema, particularly with regard to Martin Scorsese’s comments on Marvel films. What is your opinion?

First and foremost, Scorsese is a brilliant artiste and in my experience, humble when he talks about his art. So, no disrespect to him. But, I believe that there is a place in our industry for all types of work and I think all work has value. Here is my judgement of what makes a great film. Does it move an audience? It can be an significantly digitally created action film or a heartfelt, intimate drama. It doesn’t matter if it moves the audience. There is value in that because that’s what cinema is about. It’s about taking an audience on a journey and allowing them to have an emotional experience. I have seen Scorsese’s films and I am an enormous fan. And I saw Avengers: Endgame and I loved it.

How have streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and other platforms that create original content changed filmmaking?

Simply put, I think that what’s been happening with cable TV networks is an expansion of opportunities for film artistes. Shows such as Game of Thrones (HBO) and Breaking Bad (AMC) are good, quality storytelling. They are kind of episodic films being done for television. That creates more opportunity for people, whether new artistes because there are now more places for them to bring their vision and ideas or artistes that may have been written off in the past (for whatever reason) now have a new place where people that are willing to take risks are asking you to come in and do the work. The New York Film Academy put out an infographic by gathering up the research on opportunities for women and film. There is still a significant disparity in terms of the number of male filmmakers and directors, male actors in speaking roles versus women [in these capacities]. Netflix and other networks are creating opportunities where they are doing stories made by women, performed by women, women’s stories, and that is expanding opportunity. These opportunities were not so prevalent 10 years ago.

How do you think film reviews should be written? Should there be more focus on the craft?

I think that film reviewers should review every aspect of the film: the storyline, how the film was created, the performances, the editing and so on. I don’t know if all film reviewers have all the knowledge that I would hope they have. In the end, they have to review the film on the whole in terms of how the audience experiences it. So that is kind of their job. They are saying here is how I experienced it and this is where I think it was successful and not successful. I think fairness and trying to be objective about it [is important]. I don’t like horror films. But if I was reviewing a horror film, I have to look at the film in terms of whether it succeeds in doing what a horror film is supposed to do.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 8:47:35 AM |

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