David Klein conducts filmmaking masterclass

Bollywood personalities like Kangana Ranaut and Gauri Shinde studied there

David Klein

Established in 1992, the New York Film Academy (NYFA)graduates around 8,000 students across campuses. The academy is the alma mater of many in THE Bollywood industry such as Kangana Ranaut, Imraan Khan and Gauri Shinde.

David Klein, the executive vice president at the New York Film Academy, often visits India to conduct masterclasses and outreach programmes. Deeply interested in the visual medium, he has produced multiple short films and commercials. He is now exclusively dedicated to promoting and designing education in films for the NYFA.

Metrolife spoke to him to find out more about the academy.

NYFA is a popular choice, especially among star kids. Are the courses geared towards students with an industry connect?

We are so thrilled to be a school that is chosen by well-known industry families, but the majority of our students have no connections to the entertainment industry whatsoever. They just have an interest in the craft and that is the primary quality we look for. We want students who have a passion to do the work. It just so happens that our quality of teaching encourages people that have an understanding of the industry to send their family members.

Apart from an interest in the craft, what do you look for in potential students?

The ability to do creative work is very important. This doesn’t mean that they have to have done creative work in the specific discipline they want to study. We just need to see that a potential student has the ability to apply themselves creatively.

Why do you come to Indian so often?

We keep coming here because Indian students keep coming to us. We got our first Indian students not long after we opened our doors. It was very clear that there was a definite population in India that was looking for the kind of filmmaking and acting courses that we offer.

Our mission as a school is to spread film education globally and show people the importance and value of good movies. Coming to India allows us to spread this mission and introduce people to our school.

There used to be a Mumbai campus of the NYFA. Why did you shut it down?

The first course we offered in India was in 2011. We didn’t have a campus back then but it was tremendously successful. In response to that, we opened the doors to our Mumbai
campus in 2016.

We were offering short term workshops which had large demand. But as we were exploring and talking to more students, we understood that those who were truly interested in studying the craft wanted to study for longer periods of time.

We weren’t able to do this at the Mumbai campus as we wanted our faculty here for extended periods of time, which wasn’t possible.

It was also made clear to us that most of those interested in longer courses wanted to do it in the States. So we made a choice to focus on communicating with and supporting these interested students.

How much does it cost to study in NYFA?

It varies depending on the programme you choose and the length of it. A year of the filmmaking course costs $40,000 due to the equipment and kind of technology involved.

Acting courses are less expensive.

Is there any financial aid available for Indian students?

We have merit, talent and need-based awards. Apart from this, we have a tuition award specifically for Indian students. It’s 20 per cent of your tuition per year. For all the awards, you apply after your programme application. You’re also required to submit the supporting documentation.

Many of your Indian students have come back to work here. How do your courses help them navigate Indian cinema?

We do concentrate more on the western style of filmmaking as opposed to the Bollywood style, but I do believe that there is tremendous value in both styles. At the end of the day, students are coming to us to get insight into the western style.

They are encouraged to take this style and apply it to Indian filmmaking and inject it with Indian culture.

Our style of teaching ensures that the students understand the core of what filmmaking is. After which they can layer it with their style and culture.

A student of ours who was extremely successful in this approach was Gauri Shinde. She made ‘English Vinglish’ which was very grounded in Indian culture but had a global appeal.

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