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New York Film Academy in Qatar
by Hamza Iqbal  7 Aug 2013
New York Film Academy in Qatar

 Tami Alexander, the Dean of Enrollment services at the New York Film Academy was in Qatar recently on recruitment activities for the famed institution that has centers dotted across the world from its home base in Los Angles, all the way to Japan. We sat down for a quick chat to find out more about the programs offered in Photography, Acting, Film-Making and beyond. Find out more at their website:


So what brings you to Qatar?

I am here because if the interest of people in film, acting, photography, the passion that the students have for the art and the interest in studying for Degree Programs, which is not just limited to engineering or architecture, but actually for the Arts. And finding students who are very passionate about those areas of study and showing them that they can study in America where these are courses in which they can actually get degrees in and actually come back to Qatar and use them.

How has the response been so far?

We've been well received from both Locals and Expats, for what it is, of course there are not a million people that want to come to us and study, but for the ones we meet, the very small groups of Expats and Qataris are very passionate, knowledgeable and intelligent in that they have a lot of knowledge already that we can work on developing further.

Tell us about any challenges that you faced?

We have had a lot of students that do not have a way to go and study in the arts here and want to really tell their stories that are uniquely Qatari for example, and they don’t have the outlets to do so. So we’re just really trying to give them the opportunity to do that. The challenge really, is us finding them and them finding us! (laughs)

So who exactly is the NYFA looking to admit?

Students interested in the Arts and willing to pursue degree programs, after coming to America to study in Hollywood, where our campus is, in Los Angeles or studying in New York City. So it’s the students interested in getting degrees in Fine Arts and also students looking for short courses and trainings in acting, filming or photography at one of the best schools in the world that offers hands-on intensive training.

What makes the NYFA unique?

We are very well known. We’ve had a lot of popular luminaries, Steven Spielberg, for example sent his kids, Al Pacino sent his daughter. And there kinds of people in Hollywood can send their kids anywhere in the world. And there’s gotta be a reason for them to send their kids to NYFA in particular. We are known for the best students in the world with hands-on intensive programs which are very different from what other universities and colleges do.

What makes your line of work personally rewarding for you ?

Oh WOW! (laughs)

Students who think that they cannot study for a degree in photography or film-making and think that that’s not something that they can come back to their country and be successful with, but I think those who choose to do so are the most successful since they’re so passionate and there are not as many people like them in the field. So when they come back they have so much experience and knowledge but most importantly a niche that is so finely focused.

What is your advice to someone who wants to pursue a Degree in the Arts?

Even in America, not everyone can be a doctor, a pharmacist or a surgeon, and not everyone wants to be one! But I think if this is your passion and if this is what you want to do, you’ll be very sucessful. How many people go to the movies every day? Museums ? Art Exhibitions?  And people don’t realize what it takes to make all these things happen. When you watch television, how many people does it take to make a television show?  Or a commercial ?  Even just billboards? It takes a lot! It’s  a huge market.

What happens after you get the Degree?

Since our class sizes are very small, around 12-16 students per class, the teacher to student ratio is very small. So the mentoring from teachers who are also industry professionals is brilliant. They can be coming off of a set and then directly coming to class, so they actually know what’s happening in the business. A lot of the students use it as a mentoring program for themselves. So when you come out you have a great network and further opportunities that open up from that. In the end it all comes down to your passion, your drive and what kind of work you produce.

What is your advice to someone who is not sure about pursing the arts?

I would say come and take a short course with us, a 4-week or an 8-week course during summer or during the school year and we can help you with the enrollment just so you can try it. It’s a very hard industry so we have those courses so you can just try it out and see if this is something you want to do for the rest of your life. A lot of the students taking short courses just love it and decide to stay and of course we’re happy to have them.

Your advice to someone aiming to work for the creative industry independently?

I think the possibilities are endless. It’s really just going to come down to talent and its going to come down to what you want to do. You’re going to need to show your work and meet the right people at the right time. A lot of students do work in the industry and then come and study with us, so it goes back and forth, it’s not just the up-and-coming and the  I’ve-not-don’t-it-before kind, but it’s also those with professional credits behind them who just need another step up. Never stop learning, you just can’t! Things are changing every single day in the media. I really think anything is possible!

Banner image source: NYFA via Facebook

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