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SOCAPA’s Advanced Filmmaking intensive is the next step after our Core Filmmaking program and is geared towards students with prior filmmaking experience. The program is competitive and requires applicants to submit at least one completed film or video project and a short film treatment (story idea) for review during our selection process.
Students accepted into the Advanced Filmmaking intensive focus on making two longer, more polished films that they can use as part of their college applications and submit to film festivals. In addition to advanced classes in cinematography, sound, and digital editing, students attend writing and directing classes where they learn advanced techniques for developing scripts and working with actors. Students receive extensive one-on-one advisements from our seasoned staff of instructor/filmmakers — all of whom have experience at festivals and with agents.
Film Festivals and agents like short films to be just that - short. Festivals, which like to showcase as much talent as possible, prefer shorter films because they can program more of them into a given time slot, thus exposing their audiences to more stories by more filmmakers. Agents like shorter films because they can watch more of them in a given day and thus expose themselves to more talent per second than by watching longer films. Agents would even prefer two good eight-minute films by the same director than one good twenty-minute film because in two separate films, a director can show a broader range of styles.
Thus, it is our steadfast belief that our students should keep their films under ten minutes in length. The idea is this: if you can show that you can write creatively, cover scenes visually, and elicit strong performances from actors in an eight-minute short film, then you can do it in a twenty-minute film or even a feature-length film. Short films are more economical to make and are more likely to be watched by agents, festival programmers and even your friends and family.
In the afternoons, students take advanced technical camera and sound classes. In Cinematography Class, students are introduced to lenses, jibs, sliders and basic lighting. After conducting exterior shooting exercises, students come back and project the footage in class for critique. In Sound Class, students get a quick refresher on how to use handheld audio recorders, shotgun and lavalier microphones, production slates and discuss the best strategies for recording high quality production audio.
Each Advanced Filmmaking student writes, directs and edits two films of their own during the three week program. Each SOCAPA project is inspired by a film director who exemplifies a mastery of the techniques that we cover that week in class.
Alfred Hitchcock was a master of visual storytelling. He would often convey information using a single silent shot that it would take a lesser filmmaker pages and pages of cumbersome dialogue to get across. In this film, students are encouraged to take a visual approach to telling their stories. Dialogue should be used sparsely, if at all. Instead, we urge students to use composition, camera movement, shot selection, blocking, lighting, color and nonsynchronous sound to convey meaning.
Renowned globally as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, Akira Kurosawa was a master of all genres; The Seven Samurai, Ikiru, and The Hidden Fortress (one of the main inspirations for Star Wars) are just a few of his many masterpieces. Along with his supremely artistic visual style, which became an inspiration for many of America’s most famous directors of the seventies, Kurosawa was also especially attentive to performance, eliciting bravura acting from all those with whom he worked. In this culmination film, we challenge our Advanced Students to elicit the best and most truthful performances they can from their cast without losing sight of all they have learned about visual storytelling.
SOCAPA offers small classes and an accomplished teaching staff comprised of industry professionals with recent and ongoing production experience. Drawn from some of the top universities and film schools, including the Ivy League, USC, the American Film Institute, NYU, and Columbia, the instructors at SOCAPA guide the students through the program with delicacy and skill.
Film Program Director, New York City
MFA Film, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Has worked in the film industry as a cinematographer, an editor, and a writer/director. First short film was an Official Sundance Selection in 1996 and has won awards at festivals worldwide. First feature, Spin the Bottle, was released by TLA Releasing in 2001. Taught for over five years as a Professor of Film at Long Island University. Originally from Vermont.
Film Program Director, Los Angeles
MFA Film, Columbia University. Served as Senior Producer for Manning Productions and as Director/Writer/Editor for Sagebrush Productions. Award Winning Director: Regional Finalist for the Student Academy Awards, Princess Grace Honorarium, two-time Columbia College Chicago Big Screen Finalist, and winner of two Telly awards. Feature film Directing debut on Revival, December of 2015. Originally from Hot Springs, Arkansas. [jengerber.com]
Film Program Director, Vermont
BFA Film, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. LA based writer, director, editor and cinematographer. His short film, “Curtis,” received an honorable mention at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. Shot and co-produced the feature documentary, Off and Running, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was nominated for a 2011 Emmy Award. Freelances as a film editor with credits for PBS and many emerging film- makers. Taught film production at Long Island University. [jacobokada.com]
Advanced Filmmaking, New York City
MFA Film, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Before entering the world of film, Nick studied literature and theatre at Princeton University and taught English at Chiang Mai University in Thailand. His films have played at Lincoln Center. Assistant Director on the 2011 Academy Award-winning short “God of Love.” He is currently developing a dark romantic comedy. Originally from Manhattan but also spent time, growing up, in Westport, CT.[nickordway.com]
Core Filmmaking, New York City
MFA Film, Columbia University. Awarded with a Fulbright scholarship to pursue his MFA in Film Directing and Screenwriting at Columbia University. His award-winning short films have been screened in more than 150 Film Festivals and Contemporary Art Museums including Telluride Film Festival, Montreal World Film Festival and Pompidou Centre in Paris. Originally from Madrid, Spain. [javierloarte.com]
Advanced Filmmaking, Los Angeles
BFA with Honors Film, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. His first feature film, The Big Bad Swim, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and screened at festivals around the world, including Karlovy Vary, Munich, Zurich and Istanbul Film Festivals. The film follows an adult beginner’s swim class and stars Paget Brewster and Jess Weixler. The Big Bad Swim received a runner-up Audience Award for Best Director from the Seattle International Film Festival and won best American Independent from the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival among others. Ishai’s latest feature film, The Kitchen, stars Laura Prepon, Bryan Greenberg, Dreama Walker and Amber Stevens. That film opened in theaters in LA in March, 2013, and was released in the US by Monterey Media. Ishai won a Vimeo Filmmaker Grant for The Kitchen and the film is currently airing internationally on The Sundance Channel. Ishai was selected as a member of the 2014-2016 ABC/Disney DGA Directing Fellowship. In addition to directing, Ishai also works as an editor. He edited the feature documentary Artifact, which was directed by Jared Leto. He also worked as an editor on the TV shows Glee and Scream Queens.[ishaisetton.com]
Core & Advanced Filmmaking, Vermont
Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Miguel Silveira lives and works in NYC. After wrapping his first feature-length documentary I Am a Visitor in Your World (Official selection - Woodstock Film Festival, Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, Athens Film + Video Festival) Miguel completed his thesis film at Columbia University, a political thriller titled Devil's Work. The film was selected by Columbia University's festival jury as one of the seven best films to come out of the program in 2014. The film also received the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation production grant, the Caucus Foundation award for excellence in filmmaking, the DGA awards for best film in its category and it was selected as a semi-finalist at the Student Academy Awards competition. Miguel developed and directed the Venezuelan chapter of MTV's documentary series Rebel Music, executive produced by Shepard Fairey, which aired worldwide in 2015. Miguel has taught in institutions such as Columbia College Chicago, EICTV in San Antonio de Los Banos, Cuba as well as Columbia University. He is also a proud sponsor of the Telluride Film Festival City Lights Program. After receiving his MFA from Columbia University, Miguel co-founded NoPort Films and is currently in production for the feature film American Thief and in development for DROPHOUSE, a political-thriller to be shot in Detroit in 2017.[miguelsilveira.com]
Christoph Rainer is an Austrian filmmaker who graduated from The Filmacademy Vienna with a concentration in directing. He then received a Fulbright scholarship to pursue his MFA at Columbia University in New York, where he graduated with honors. His short films have been invited to over 250 film festivals worldwide, screened at museums such as the Tabakelera in San Sebastian and the MoMA in New York and have won numerous awards such as the TIFF Emerging Filmmaker Award at the Toronto Film Festival.
Advanced Filmmaking and Advanced Projects, New York City
Levi Abrino is a writer and director based in Los Angeles, CA. Most recently, he wrote for Amazon Prime's award-winning kids series Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street. And, he helped produce and script the feature-length romantic comedy It Had To Be You, starring Cristin Milioti (Fargo, Wolf of Wall Street), currently in festivals. Levi is a graduate of New York University's prestigious Film Directing MFA program, and his short films Little Horses, The Lonely Bliss of the Cannonball Luke, and I Ran with a Gray Ghost have screened and won awards at numerous film festivals in the US and abroad. He is also an accomplished editor, notably cutting the Oscar-winning short film God of Love and the feature film Lovesick, starring Matt LeBlanc.
Levi grew up with three siblings on a dairy farm in rural Western Pennsylvania. He has degrees in Geography and Filmmaking from Penn State University, which, after graduating, he was able to parlay into a job on the teller line of a small town bank. Here, his duties included cashing checks, taking deposits, and playing the crook in Friday-morning bank robbery drills. [leviabrino.com]
Core and Advanced Filmmaking, Los Angeles and New York City
MFA Film, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Craig's thesis project, True Adolescents, was released in 2009 as his first feature film. He has since written and directed a second feature, The Skeleton Twins, released in 2014 and recently directed Wilson, starring Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer and Laura Dern, due for release in 2016. Craig is originally from Bellingham, Washington where he studied theatre at the University of Washington and worked for several years in theatre and sketch comedy. He currently lives and works as a screenwriter and director in Los Angeles, California.
MFA Film, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. Luke's thesis film, God of Love, which Luke wrote, directed and starred in, won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film in 2011. Luke continues to work as a writer, director, and producer of film and television. Luke's first feature co-writing credit, A Birder's Guide to Everything was released in 2014. He has since directed the feature film Lovesick, starring Matt LeBlanc, and the TV series' Maron and Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street.
Screenwriting, New York City
Lisa received her B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Pennsylvania and her MFA in film from Columbia University. She is currently in pre-production for a new Netflix original series, Gypsy. She is also adapting the best-selling novel I Was Hereby Gayle Forman for New Line Cinema, and has been tapped to adapt the novel Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit by Jessica Tom for DreamWorks Studios.
MFA Film, Columbia University. Andrew received a Sloan Foundation Treatment Fellowship for his feature-length screenplay 40 Watts From Nowhere, and the screenplay for his short film Fish won the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Development Grant. Andrew’s experience teaching and working with teens ranges from helping to create the “Young Artist Film Lab,” working as an inaugural instructor for “Project FOCUS (Filmmakers Of Color United in Spirit),” and working as a Screenwriting Preceptor for a 15-week screenwriting course at Columbia University.
New York City Campus
Los Angeles, CA
"I was extremely pleased with my son's experience at SOCAPA. It made a big difference in his life. Not only did he learn about the technical aspects and art of being a filmmaker; he became a much better student overall. He now has a much greater appreciation for education in general.
As you know, Tom wants to study film in college. Many of his essays mention different things he learned at SOCAPA. The movie he is submitting to the colleges is one he made during your program. I'm sure that attending your school has made him a much more attractive college candidate."
Paul C, Hartford, CT