Ever wondered how the NYFA manages to secure so many glowing reviews on Trustpilot when its courses have come in for such negative opinion elsewhere?
Then wonder no longer. The answer lies in an email from NYFA founder Rob Earnshaw to former course members, offering to cross their palms with silver if they convey lots of warm words about their experience:
“I am writing to ask if you would be able to leave a review of the National Youth Film Academy on Trust Pilot?” he says.
“The reason we have created a Trust Pilot account is so that we can share with future employers and members success stories from our company. We are writing to past Members, Tutors, Parents, assistants and Mentors. The more positive reviews we have, the easier it is for us to engage with employers so as to build the reputation of the NYFA and the Members we represent”.
In case it isn’t clear what he wants, he goes on to say:
“If you could leave a positive review about your experience it would be greatly appreciated“
And in case you were wondering why you should bother to do that, the answer lies in nice big bold letters at the end:
“We would like to offer you £25.00 for your time. Once you have created your review, please can you email me back a link to your review along with your bank details and I shall ensure that monies are paid within 2 working days”.
So those Trustpilot reviews aren’t exactly impartial evidence of the quality of its courses then. Worth remembering if they should tempt you into forking over large sums of money for their (much lambasted) offering in the future.
**2022 EDIT Since this was first posted, the news is that the only thing that has changed is that these “courses” have gone up in price. Numerous more people have come forward to report that they are a complete waste of money and that the high Trustpilot rating that this company has secured has been entirely on the basis that the company has paid and begged people to leave them, while bullying those who have dared to leave negative opinions. Be warned, do not waste your money on these offerings, go to the BFI or Screenskills or any other proper training provider and get something worth having at much less cost!
Be aware also that, if you have a membership with this organisation and wish toleave, you MUST cancel the continuing payment you signed within 30 days or they will keep your money. Not only do they do this but they are very, very reluctant to pay out any refunds even when it is within these 30 days. It took repeated phone calls by one subscriber to get his money back. Niamh Redden (“Member Coordinator”) and Michael Thomas (“Event Coordinator”) both dragged their heels as much as they possibly could, making repeated promises and breaking them, before the company was forced to pay the refund. Beware all!**
Are you considering paying a fee to attend an audition/interview for one of the National Youth Film Academy’s £1200 (+ costs) “Set Ready” courses, or anything else this company (CEO Rob Earnshaw aka Rob James) is offering?
If so it is worth bearing the following reviews (and others) in mind. Every single one of these is from individuals who have paid to go to auditions or been on the courses themselves (and is just a small representative sample of many others):
“I did an online 9 hour course (spread over 3 weeks) and learned more in those 9 hours than I did in 2 weeks”
“I only did the interview and then realised that it was way too much money for what it was offering”.
“I would not recommend the NYFA to anyone who is looking to improve their skill set in the film industry”
“I attended their Summer Course and found it to be extremely unprofessional – all the work and organisation for the course was loaded onto young apprentices who had no idea what they were doing!
“The main gripe really is that we paid a lot of money for very little return”
“I went to their ‘breakthrough courses’ and the staff were awful, rude and disrespectful to their students, the guest speakers were good but the nyfa demanded full ownership and copyright of our films, meaning they have never been entered into festivals or viewed again by an audience, they gave all students a member status on their website but it is worthless and has led to no new opportunities”
“For the money paid, it was atrocious”
“The course itself was very bare bones; Not only were the course tutors not that experienced (at 18 years old, I’m much more qualified than most of them), but I hardly learnt anything! The most interesting workshop for me was for screenwriting, but even then, I actually learnt very little”
“I felt it was a waste of my time”
“I was put into a group with 8 other actors, a director, an AD and a writer. My group were missing a producer, editor and cinematographer. Other groups had 5 actors and a ‘full’ team, again when I point out the unfairness of this, I was told they would sort this. They did not”
“The amount of money for this course is dramatically out proportion for the experience received”
“In my opinion, the NYFA was a waste of money. I have not benefited in any way from being on this Course and could not recommend it to others”
“Fairly badly organised and overpriced”
“I would not recommend the course if people have any other way to network, and that instead they could spend half the cost of the course and produce a well funded short with a similarly sized group. Talking with friends from this course, they feel similarly”
“I personally wouldn’t recommend it as it certainly isn’t worth the money and the only thing my daughter got out of the course was to make new friends with like minded young people”
To confirm then – this is a company which has attracted a huge amount of negative opinion over the years (the above is only a tiny fraction). If it put as much effort into running its courses as it does in suppressing that poor feedback on the internet it would be a much more honourable organisation than it is. In short – be very cautious about handing over money to this organisation – the evidence is that their courses simply aren’t worth the money.
And if you have just arrived on this page after reading the scintillating reviews of this company’s offerings on Trust Pilot, you may want to reflect on the fact that, for some reason, fully 50 people within 72 hours decided to leave their first ever review on that site and all spontaneously decided to make it about their experience on these courses. And would you know – every single one decided, entirely independently, to express overwhelming satisfaction!!
Such an outpouring of effusive joy, it’s almost like a miracle.
And now it transpires that course attendees have been paid to leave reviews on Trustpilot – which does also help explain the enthusiasm on show! You’ll struggle to find mention of this salient fact in the reviews themselves though, which is not only against Trustpilot’s rules but a little shady to say the least…