Academy for Careers In Television and Film

1-50 51ST AVENUE
QUEENS NY 11101 Map
Phone: (718) 609-3330
Website: Click here
Admissions: Citywide
Wheelchair accessible
unzoned
Noteworthy
Principal: Edgar Rodriguez
Neighborhood: Astoria/ LI City
District: 30
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: NILSA ARBOLEDA

What's special:

Professional sound stage and editing labs; film industry internships

The downside:

Limited space in a shared building

The InsideStats

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Our review

AUGUST 2013 UPDATE: ACTvF moved to a newly constructed building located at 1-50 51st Ave that is part of the city's Hunters Point South Development. ACTvF shares the new building with a special education school and the new Hunters Point Community Middle School. Situated near the East River, the new building features science labs, an auditorium, and music and art classrooms.

SEPTEMBER 2012 REVIEW: At the Academy for Careers in Television & Film (ACTvF) students get professional-level training in film production in addition to regular academics. The school is small, ethnically diverse and admits a wide range of students who almost all graduate on time and go on to college. Founded in 2008 by principal and seasoned educator Mark Dunetz and award-winning director Alan Metzger, ACTvF has quickly grown into one of the most popular and successful of the city’s new schools.

There’s a relaxed and close-knit vibe about the school. Students and administrators are on a first-name basis, and the teachers are lively and passionate. Most teach three or four sections, with an average class size under 25. The manageable student load helps teachers address the wide range of student skills and allows them to take on other responsibilities such as tutoring and enrichment.

Small advisory groups led by teachers meet four times each week, offering support for academic troubles, personal issues, and college preparation. “At first I wasn’t sure about the school’s small size, but now I really like it,” a 12th-grader said. “It’s so easy to contact the teachers and our advisors will always back you up.”   This collaborative atmosphere extends to the student body. Older students often mentor younger ones in group projects, and incoming students attend a three-day “summer bridge program,” or orientation, in August led by upperclassmen.

The school’s film production program is impressive. Students have access to a state-of-the-art film library and editing labs; a large sound stage; professional-grade audio and visual equipment; and several shops stocked with props, wardrobe, and heavy-duty equipment for set design and construction. Students take field trips to nearby production studios, film often in the neighborhood, and secure internships and paid summer work in the film industry. The New York Times featured the story of one ACTvF graduate who was able to pay for college thanks to a paid gig working on a film set.  

Students run the school’s non-profit production company, Next Step Pictures, which has produced films for clients including The National Dance Institute and Brooklyn High School for the Arts. ACTvF’s big-name partners include Silver Cup Studios, the Tribeca Film Institute and the Museum of the Moving Image.

Ninth and tenth graders rotate through classes in business production (budgeting and timelines); post production (video editing, sound mixing and motion graphics); production crafts (cameras, lighting, sound, and set design and construction); and screenwriting and directing. Students then major in one for 11th and 12th grade.

There are no accelerated classes in the lower grades, and Spanish is the only foreign language. For high achievers the pacing may seem slow. Teachers try to address this by giving more challenging assignments to top students. Upperclassmen may take Advanced Placement classes in calculus, English, U.S. history and psychology. Students may also take courses at LaGuardia Community College.

The school occupies the basement and part of the first floor of IS 204. The two schools share a gym, cafeteria and auditorium. ACTvF has exclusive use of its production facilities and a workout room filled with cardio and weight training equipment.

While many students stay after school to work on production projects, others join clubs such as drama, school newspaper and yearbook. PSAL teams include boys basketball, girls basketball and volleyball, and co-ed cross country.

Special education: There is one Integrated Co-Teaching class per grade. Students with special needs also have resource room support, physical and occupational therapy, counseling and speech therapy.

College: Nearly all students graduate on time, and most attend college after graduation. CUNY and SUNY schools are popular choices, and a few attend private colleges such as Emerson College in Boston and New York University, Dunetz said. There is a full-time college advisor.

Admissions: Preference is given to students who attend an open house. The school has far more applicants than seats available. (Laura Zingmond, September 2012)

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