As a filmmaker, I’m always learning new things about the craft.  I’m always on the look out for new skills that I can acquire so that I can apply them to my wedding videography to gain more experience, and to help improve my skills as a shooter and editor.  I’ve been producing hundreds of successful wedding videos for years, but I certainly don’t know it all.  There is always room for improvement and I am constantly upping my game.  One way to up your game is to keep on training in various different aspects of your craft.

I attended a filmmaking workshop in New York at The New York Film Academy in 2009.  I’ve always wanted to study filmmaking abroad at a leading film school and in 2008 I decided that I would.  Of course, in 2008 I also had a full calendar of wedding video bookings for 2009 ahead of me, so I knew that I couldn’t undertake a filmmaking course that would be anything longer than a couple of months.  The New York Film Academy offered exactly what I was looking for.

Studying filmmaking in New York at The New York Film Academy was a dream come true.  It was cold.  Really cold.  But New York is inspiring.  It’s not just the scale of everything — for a filmmaker it’s a visual feast, and the rich cinematic history is unparalleled.

The New York Film Academy is one of the most famous and well-respected film schools in the world.  It is the acting and film school of choice of many of the world’s top filmmakers and actors who have sent a son or daughter to study there.  According to The New York Film Academy’s website (http://www.nyfa.com), they include Steven Spielberg, Kevin Kline, Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx, Jodie Foster, Pierce Brosnan, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, Bono (U2), directors Stephen Frears, Peter Bogdonavich, Roger Donaldson, James L. Brooks among others.

A screenwriting teacher at NYFA told us that Ireland’s own Glen Hansard, shortly after winning his Academy Award for ‘Best Original Song’ for Once, walked through the doors of The New York Film Academy, to do the same filmmaking workshop that I was doing.  He must have got a taste for filmmaking while making ‘Once’.

It was hands on and very intense at The New York Film Academy.  I constantly rotated on the crews of the films of others, from ‘gaffer’ to directory of photography to writer to director.  I got a taste of everything and really took advantage of my time there.  I wrote and produced three short films:  ‘Minus One Person’, ‘Suffering Nonsense’, and ‘Peep Show Milkshake’ (the last one, after much preparation and even casting, didn’t happen due to scheduling conflicts and other things, but that’s a different story).

In my time off, I even tried acting.  I sat in on acting classes, showcasing some of the best in New York acting talent, soaking up what everyone was doing and how they were approaching their material.  I admire actors even more now.  Skills are attained, but talent appears to be innate.  To give you an example of what I mean:  There Will Be Blood

I’ve had the pleasure of being tutored by some of the leading figures in film today:  Gabriel Byrne, Sofia Coppola, Billy Crystal, Ben Kingsley and others.  The actual teachers at NYFA are working professionals in the industry (screenwriters, independent filmmakers etc).  The feedback offered to me, by the tutors and even by Gabriel Byrne, on my short script “Peep Show Milkshake” was invaluable.

It follows logically that the more creative and technical training I undertake, the better your wedding video/DVD will turn out.  In the particular workshop that I did, the teaching of editing was basic (I had been editing for years).  I did, however, pick up a number of things that helps me make better wedding videos/DVDs.  That’s good for me, and even better for you, my clients.

Gabriel Byrne told me to “do the very best you can on every project you choose to take part in”.  He won’t remember saying this.  But I will.