New York Film Academy 1 Year Documentary Student

I moved to New York from Canada in 2010 to study Documentary Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy.  After graduating from university with a Biology degree, I had a difficult time deciding whether I should pursue teaching, public health or film – something that I’ve never thought would be possible. Since I was young, I worked towards becoming a health professional like my father, so I tried to find an outlet for my creativity in high school art classes or English projects. While I enjoyed the arts, I never saw myself as artsy enough to fully dive into it and felt the pressure to find a career that was more “stable.” It was only after my 4-month internship in Bangladesh in 2009 that I mustered the courage to make that transition from Biology to film. At the end of my internship , I put together a short 16-minute documentary about my research there and it was one of the most exciting things I had ever done.

Sarah’s documentary film “Newtown Creek”

The 1-year Documentary Program I took at NYFA was intense, but exhilarating.  As someone who enjoys both in-class and practical training, I think I took the most out of the program by being committed to my coursework, investing in my film projects, while taking the full advantage of studying in New York City by attending outside film screenings in my spare time. I learned a great deal from my instructors as they shared their wisdom from years of personal experience in the industry, as well as the guest lecturers who came in for our Master classes. The fact that we started filming our projects within the first month of the program and worked together in small crews of 4 helped me to learn the craft of filmmaking in its true collaborative nature. Through trial-and-errors, I learned firsthand how to produce, shoot, and edit better while, critique sessions with my classmates and instructors enabled me to take my films to the next level.

I would definitely recommend NYFA to those looking to pursue filmmaking – documentary or narrative. This school has equipped me to become the filmmaker that I am today and has set me on the path to grow as a documentarian when I did not know anything about filmmaking only two years ago. I have met many mentors and friends that I still collaborate with at this school and was able to produce two short documentaries that have been screened at film festivals. I am grateful for my experience at NYFA and stand as a proud alumnus of the school.

-Sarah Choi

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