A new low for the National Youth Film Academy.

The National Youth Film Academy has been a regular feature on the pages of The Watercooler over the past few years. Unsurprising when there are so many ex-customers who have had poor experiences of the over-priced and under-delivering “courses” they offer.

Time to feature that august institution once again, as word comes in of their latest recruitment activities. This month the NYFA, through Programme Leader Brooke Ward, auditioned and signed up a 16 year old to one of their courses over two Zoom calls. This person was on Universal Credit (£265.31 a month) so a payment of £93 a month for 12 months was clearly a huge chunk of her available income.

As she was also only 16, the company required a parent signature but no checks were made on this, nor whether she could really afford these payments, nor that it was right for her and that she knew the implications of signing away this sum of money for what many have found to be a pretty worthless offering. They also signed her up for a “Spring Social” (£8) and for the “Film Awards” (£29.99) to boot.

When she asked for her money back the company, having been very happy and responsive to sign her up, displayed a noticeable silence in response to her email explaining that she had changed her mind, as is often their wont. As others have noted, and a current Trustpilot review of the company reflects signing you up and getting your money is very much their first priority:

Follow up emails over several days also failed to garner a response, right up to the moment where the Watercooler made contact with the owner of the company, Lauren Hendry. She didn’t respond (and still has not in any way at all) but all of a sudden, her partner and sometime CEO, Rob Earnshaw (aka Rob James) jumped to attention, now apparently full of huge contrition that such an awful set of circumstances should have taken place, explaining how he would of course now be putting it all right. In the event, the young person in question had cancelled the Direct Debits just in time so that only one month’s payments were taken and had to be returned.

One wonders how quickly Earnshaw might have jumped without the thought of all the negative publicity that this might attract, given that numerous people have reported that once this company has your money there is usually next to no chance of getting it back. Viz Trustpilot again on that:

Leaving that aside, on what planet do these people live that they feel it is acceptable to sign up anyone who is on Universal Credit for a £900 a year commitment (plus extras) for a course which doesn’t even have a start date, let alone someone who is clearly too young and without making any appropriate safeguarding checks.

This company is currently recruiting again for these courses. Caution be thy watchword.

And NB: Do not be bamboozled by the name. It may have the same acronym as the prestigious “New York Film Academy” but this NYFA bears no comparison to that institution. The National Youth Film “Academy” is nothing more than a profit-seeking company peddling what it calls “courses” but which mostly consists of putting groups of inexperienced individuals together, giving them a camera and letting them get on with making a film.

There are a few more chargeable events along the way followed by an “awards ceremony” (for which they also charge you and your loved ones to attend) and the perfunctory business of handing out “awards” to as many people as they can. 

There is no accreditation, no external mnitoring, no assessment, no qualifications and hence no value for your CV in taking part in this kind of thing. At best you make a few friends along the way – for which you will be shelling out hundreds and hundreds of pounds.

Best advice: Avoid.