As we gear up for International Film Institute of New York’s 2016 Five Week Summer Filmmaking Intensive, we will be catching up with industry tastemakers, faculty members and aspiring filmmakers on a weekly basis in order to discuss film and the importance of IFI in educating students, molding them into individuals and preparing them for a career in the film industry. This week, we sat down with Andres Rosende, a decorated filmmaker and screenwriter, who has been an IFI film instructor since 2010 and thoroughly understands our process from top to bottom. We wanted to ask Andres some important questions about the industry and also learn through his experience about what differentiates the IFI from other film schools.
Andres was born and raised in Santiago de Compostela, Spain where he graduated summa cum laude from Universidad Complutense of Madrid with a B.A. in Film Studies and Communication. Aside from being an MFA candidate in Film Directing at Columbia University, Andres has also won several awards including the James Bridges Award for excellence in working with actors and the prestigious Fundacion Barrie de la Maza scholarship.
Q: What differentiates IFI from other film schools?
A: There are two things that make the IFI program very special: 1. The founders and all of the faculty care deeply about the students – not only as far as educating them on a certain set of skills, but also as far as helping them finding themselves as individuals and as artists as well. Anyone can learn where to place a camera so that it doesn’t cross the axis, but only a few aspiring filmmakers can tell a compelling, personal story. 2. The IFI Summer Program is a story-driven program that offers a grad level course for high-schoolers; there’s simply no other program like it on the market.
Q: Would you recommend the IFI to international students? If so, why?
A: Definitely. I would recommend the program to anyone who wants to learn about film and the filmmaking process in general. When it comes to international students specifically, they often bring a different perspective on film to the table and IFI makes sure to educate them on the mainstream way of telling stories. Typically, this mixture of film ideologies produces THE BEST movies. Not for nothing, some of the biggest filmmakers of all time were foreigners working in the United States (from Hitchcock to Iñárritu).
Q: How does taking an IFI course benefit a student looking into film schools?
A: Among the great things about the IFI, students will write, produce, direct and edit a short film that they can add to their portfolio and use in film school applications later on. There are so many students that have transitioned from the IFI program into prestigious film schools including NYU, Columbia, Chapman, SCAD, UCLA and several others.
Q: What makes a good student filmmaker? What makes a good film?
A: A good student filmmaker doesn’t need to constantly prove that he or she knows it all. I guess it’s safe to say that this is a quality of good students in general. Passion for film doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be a great filmmaker. You need to have imagination, curiosity and a strong desire to tell stories in order to be successful. Film is not summer camp – it’s hard work!
Q: What would you say to a student looking into film programs about the IFI?
A: Don’t think twice. You’ll find many programs online, some of them more glamorous or flashy, but only IFI’s program will really help you understand the medium and help advance your growth as an individual and a filmmaker. Every single student that takes the program comes back home changed – I give you my word on this!
Q: As a Director and Directing Instructor, what do you emphasize in the classroom?
A: Obviously, there is a part of my class that emphasizes the craft: the vocabulary and grammar of film. The other part of my class focuses on exploring how each student perceives the world and how we can use that to translate those thoughts and perceptions into images.
Q: What has been your experience teaching at the IFI?
A: Teaching at the IFI has never been a job for me. The students are so smart that I always feel like I’m learning from them and becoming a better filmmaker myself. On top of that, the relationships among teachers and between teachers and students are so fluid, caring and encouraging that it has always been a pleasure to work at the IFI.