Burbank Students Direct Films On Universal Backlot

By On July 18, 2014

Three Burbank students directed and shot film projects on Universal Studio’s backlot through a New York Film Academy (NYFA) week-long intensive film-making course. The students were selected, along with 12 other students from Culver City, Venice and Los Angeles, after applying for a scholarship through a partnership with the Young Storytellers Foundation (YSF.)

Brennan Flynn and Joe Molinari, who will be seniors at John Burroughs High School this fall, and recent JBHS graduate Avan Shirwani attended the program July 7 through 11. The NYFA intensive film-making program included on editing, screenwriting, acting, post-production sound and directing.

Brennan Flynn, Avan Shirwani and Joe Molinari take a break from filming on the Universal Studios back lot. (Photo Courtesy of Young Storytellers Foundation)

Brennan Flynn, Avan Shirwani and Joe Molinari take a break from filming on the Universal Studios backlot. (Photo By Pierre Pandy)

“Participants write, film and edit their own short film on the Universal Studios backlot,” explained YSF Alumni Summer Intern Michelle Gonzalez.

Alumni from the course are also paired with a professional mentor from NYFA’s faculty and return to participate in workshops administered by their professional mentors. Students who have participated in Young Storytellers and Young Moviemakers programs (YMM) at their respective high schools are able to apply for the NYFA scholarships.

Avan Shirwani checks the shot. (Photo Courtesy of Young Storytellers Foundation)

Avan Shirwani checks the shot. (Photo By Pierre Pandy)

Shirwani, who begins freshman year of college this fall at Los Angeles Valley College, was first exposed to both the YSF and YMM programs through Play Production class at Burroughs. She mentored students at Jordan Middle School in the YMM program. She also helped incoming freshman write a script and performed some of the scripts.

“I enjoy helping kids and bringing out their creative side,” Shirwani commented.

“This was unbelievably intense but the most fun I’ve ever had,” Shirwani said about the NYFA film-making course. “I met so many amazing people and learned more than I could have ever imagined.”

“Throughout all these programs and YSF, I found that I really love film making and all the aspects of it,” she added. “I am forever grateful to them.”

Brennan Flynn peeks through the camera. (Photo Courtesy of Young Storytellers Foundation)

Brennan Flynn peeks through the camera. (Photo By Pierre Pandy)

“The experience was wonderful because it broadened my horizons – previously, my only experience was in theater,” commented Flynn, who has been involved with YSF and YMM for the past two years.

“It also put me in the director’s chair for the first time in my life, and it was such a rewarding experience to see what I created go from a script to a fully produced short film so quickly,” Flynn added.

“I have a new knowledge of, and especially respect for, all the different jobs involved in making a film now that I have written, directed and edited my own project,” he also said. “I am eternally grateful to YSF for giving me the incredible opportunity of learning and working NYFA for a week.”

Joe Molinari directs his film. (Photo Courtesy of Young Storytellers Foundation)

Joe Molinari directs his film. (Photo Courtesy of Pierre Pandy)

NYFA’s scholarship commitment provided for nearly $25,000 worth of tuition to the summer program.

“For many of our students, an experience like this is simply out of reach and we are so grateful that NYFA has provided this camp completely tuition-free,” commented Bill Thompson, YSF Executive Director.”

“It is amazing to watch our young film-makers shoot their scripts with professional actors, a professional crew, on an actual Hollywood studio backlot,” Thompson continued.”This week strengthens their confidence in the power of their voice and we can’t wait to see what they create next.”

More information on YSF can be found on their website.

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