TFI’s Summer Arts Institute – In the Words of an Alumna

With the final deadline to apply for Summer Arts Institute (SAI) Filmmaking Workshop this Friday, we wanted to share with you the experience of one SAI alumna in her own words. Sarah Alli, a student at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film in Long Island City, NY, participated in Tribeca Film Institute’s SAI Filmmaking Workshop in 2009. Sarah, along with fellow SAI participants Bryan Rivelli and Ethan Greenfield, created a film called Do Not Enter, which is about abandoned buildings and subway tunnels in New York City and the people that explore them. The following is Sarah’s account about attending the 2010 Austin Film Festival, where Do Not Enter was honored as the winner of the Young Filmmakers Competition.

October 23, 2010 – the day I arrived in Austin, TX for the Austin Film Festival (AFF), after some travel delays – was probably the most action packed day I’ve ever had. My mom and I woke up bright and early and took a cab downtown to the Driskill Hotel, where the festival was taking place. Even at 7 in the morning, downtown Austin amazed me. The Driskill was packed with people, filmmakers and film lovers alike. After picking up our badges, my mom and I met up with fellow SAI alum Bryan Rivelli and his dad, and headed to a panel about how to put together and work with your crew on a limited budget.

We did have to leave the panel early since the awards luncheon, which included the Young Filmmakers Competition, was to start shortly. Upon arrival at the awards luncheon, I started getting nervous, as the Young Filmmakers Competition and Do not Enter were first on the program – that probably meant that Bryan and I would be the first ones to go up and accept our award! When Do Not Enter was announced as the winner, Bryan and I went up and gave some very short, nervous speeches, before going off to the side to get our pictures taken by the AFF photographers. The rest of the awards went by pretty quickly and at the end, Bryan and I got a chance to get our pictures taken with our parents and introduce ourselves to some of the filmmakers there (particularly Robert Rodriguez and David Peoples).

Following the awards luncheon, my mom and I then went to another panel called “The $2 or the $200,000 film, and What You Need to Know,” which, again, was about budgeting for your film. Later that afternoon, we also attended a screening of all of the films accepted into the Young Filmmakers Competition, including Do Not Enter! Upon arriving where the films were showing, I was happy to discover that it was an actual movie theater! Do Not Enter was the first one to screen, followed by eight more films produced by some very talented people. After the screening, one of the AFF reps invited the Young Filmmakers in Competition participants  in the audience to come up for a Q & A session. I went up to the front of the theatre along with two other people, and found that the majority of the questions were directed to me for Do Not Enter, as the many of the people in the audience had never been to New York, and were in awe of the story about the forgotten subway tunnels underground. They were also pleasantly surprised that I actually came all the way from New York to the festival. Overall, I was very impressed with the screening, the Q & A, and the people I met.

My mom and I were both pretty worn out after a busy and exciting day. We walked around downtown for the last time, and discovered that what I had previously thought was bustling wasn’t even close to it. Austin is a party city! There are bars and clubs everywhere filled with college students and other people, and a live band in every one! There were so many people in each place that there were crowds outside of them, causing the streets to turn into sidewalks. My mom and I finally found a cab (the driver, after all of my amazement, told me that the day was a slow one because University of Texas lost their game and everyone was at home crying), and we went back to our hotel to get some sleep and get ready for our 5am flight the next morning. We overslept, of course, but discovered that our flight had been cancelled as we got to the airport! Because of that, we had a long wait in the airport in Austin, and we got back to New York late, but the wait was worth it because I had a great weekend! Thanks to everyone at the Austin Film Festival for their hospitality!

Watch Sarah, Bryan, and Ethan’s film Do Not Enter above and help us spread the word about this year’s Summer Arts Institute Filmmaking Workshop for New York City area public school students. The final deadline is this Friday, February 18. Apply Now!