St. Peter writes about his experience at the New York Film Academy, a week-long course with a purpose to educate attendees in the fields of filmmaking, acting, or 3-D animation.

Ten thousand feet below me, somewhere in the historic city that swept the coastline, a representative of the New York Film Academy held a little plaque with my name on it. The aircraft dipped its wing and the Boeing 747 began its descent towards the birthplace of the American Revolution.

I spotted the name card instantly: ‘James St. Peter,’ printed in a stylish Hollywood font. The chauffeur waved it above the throng of travelers that crowded the Boston airport terminal. I gripped my bulging suitcase tighter and started lugging my luggage towards my bobbing printed name.

The New York Film Academy, held at Harvard University, is a week-long course with a purpose to educate attendees in the fields of filmmaking, acting, or 3-D animation.

I was set to attend the filmmaking class, which gave a broad sample of different aspects relating to the movie-making industry. Classes such as ‘Director’s Craft’ and ‘Camera Operating’ made up my schedule that I received upon arriving at Claverly Hall, the Harvard dormitory that I would temporarily call home.

After several introductions to individuals I would come to call friends in the next week, and a quick tour around the breathtakingly beautiful campus, my long first day at NYFA ended.

Throughout the following seven days, my knowledge regarding what I consider a possible future career field broadened exponentially. All of the classes I attended served to prepare me for the shooting of a short film of my own design that was to be finished by the week’s end. With the help of my crew: fellow students Owen Markham (Cinematographer) and Ry Black (Assistant Director of Photography), both from Boston, Mass., three movies were shot over the course of three days.

Each member of the crew swapped spots throughout the filming process, allowing each one of us to properly portray our respective creative visions while also allowing for opportunity to explore the elements and responsibilities associated with each position on a filming crew.

At the end of the week, the movies created by the 20 or so filmmaking students premiered at the Harvard Campus Theatre. All the friends I made throughout the week were in attendance, in addition to the instructors that had watched us develop in our craft. Every face in the audience had an ever-widening grin as each of us watched our own films and those created by our peers. As the final film faded to black and the deep crimson curtains drew across a blank black canvas, the premier drew to a close.

NYFA at Harvard was a valuable experience I am extremely honored to have had. I made several friendships that I hope to be long-lasting, a gift far more valuable than any filming technique the professors could have taught me, and I hope to stay in touch with the people I met from all over the world. Maybe someday, I’ll apply this education to something slightly more substantial than a five minute short.

It’s important to expand your horizons in any way you can. I live for opportunities such as these, and do my best to try as much as I can. I may sound like a broken record, but that recurring tune rings true. Trying new things will give you something to talk about and new friends to talk to, along with the added benefit of learning and personal betterment. It seems that self-advancement is a characteristic slowly fading from our culture today, but without it, how can we hope to usher in any sort of future? The only answer is that we cannot; we should all try to experience as much as we can. Take a leap of faith, do something uncomfortable, and take some chances. The truth is that you’ll never regret it.

Editor’s note: St. Peter worked for the Herald-Dispatch over the summer and attended this film academy during that time. He was asked to write about the experience.