Chicago – For high school seniors passionate about media arts, Tribeca Flashpoint Academy offers both a road less traveled and a fast track to job success.
Unlike traditional four-year undergraduate programs, TFA is part-college, part-industry apprenticeship, allowing students to obtain their associate degree in a variety of media and communications disciplines in just two years.
“I’ve gone on film shoots, I’ve been in film studios with legends like Ramsey Lewis. I’ve recorded music festivals,” said Recording Arts student Dennis Huston. “It’s a great environment. The teachers are top-notch. The students here are motivated. The staff is incredibly supportive. It’s a great place and I love it."
And that intensive, real-world project work has proven fundamental to TFA students’ remarkable record of job placement and career success.
“Because their education here is compact, and it’s intensive, and because you have state-of-the-art equipment, they are far more prepared when they get out into the real world,” said Matt Antrim of T2-Back Alley Films, which hires TFA students.
“Some of these students have the most real-world, applicable experience I’ve ever encountered…And that’s a really great experience, to know that when they come to our company, they’ll be able to hit the ground running,” said Mike Stratta of creative agency LimeGreen.
TFA alumni move into all facets of the digital media and communications industries. Since graduating from TFA in 2010, Ryan Robert Howard has worked as a PA on film projects including Emmy award-winning Damages, Oscar-nominated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, as well as The Bourne Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises, and Man of Steel.
Howard credits his first year at TFA with putting him on the film path. “We made a film [October Surprise] that really gave me a sense of how and why I wanted to be on set. The big lights, the fancy cameras, putting everything together. That Production-In-Action really taught me that that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to be on set with the chaos.”
More than 40 employers from across the country attended TFA’s 2012 job fair, including Hulu, Jellyvision, Lucasfilm Ltd., OmniSound Studios and Warner Brothers.
“This is the best school I have ever visited,” said Joe Caggiano of Rhythm & Hues Studios. “The students are taking notes as you’re talking to them. I never see that anywhere at all. It’s a great experience and a great school.”
The TFA curriculum is based on a progressive training model that replaces book study with hands-on project work. This way, students collaborate with industry leaders and hone their skills on up-to-the-minute technology and the latest, most innovative digital media techniques.
Through client-student partnerships, TFA students graduate with a resume packed with project experience across its academic disciplines: Film + Broadcast, Recording Arts, Animation + Visual Effects, Game + Interactive Media, and Design + Visual Communication.
“The whole allure of this school is that you get real-world experience,” said Michael Brugioni, a second-year Animation + Visual Effects student and key player in the “Alien Me” augmented reality app project, a partnership between Premium Surge Promotions and TFA to create computer-generated alien mask models to promote next year’s release of Men In Black 3. “We created these aliens just head up, to the best of our ability.”
Student Ebone Freeman also collaborated on “Alien Me.” “That’s one of the reasons I came here. It’s less theoretical work,” she said. “At other schools it’s like, if you were in a job, this is how you would do it. Here it’s like, here’s your job, so this is how you do it.”
TFA’s teaching faculty consists of industry professionals committed to exposing students to the grind and the glory of the media arts industries.
“What I loved about Tribeca Flashpoint Academy from day one was the immediate sense of passion for the art of audio from not only the faculty, but the students as well,” said Recording Arts instructor Tim Rusin, who worked with artists Smashing Pumpkins, Smoking Popes, The Dandy Warhols and Lisa Loeb before joining TFA. “I was very pleasantly surprised at how serious these students, most fresh out of high school, were taking their futures in audio.”