About to start a course with the NYFA (National Youth Film Academy)?

Are you about to start a course with the National Youth Film Academy?
If so you may wish to consider whether what you have been offered does actually match what you paid for when you signed up. If it doesn’t you have every right to ask for a refund, whatever Rob Earnshaw or anyone else at the company tells you.

If you pay for a service, you have the right to expect that that service is what they agreed to supply. Meeting groups and planning productions in a virtual way rather than in person are materially different experiences  – and if you were promised a screening at Raindance and that does not happen, that is materially different too.

If you do want to claim a refund, then do write to the company and ask for it.  Expect a serious amount of gaslighting in response but be firm, insistent and clear that you do expect to get your money back! And if you want any help with that, feel free to email me: derrywatson@gmail.com.

These courses have attracted a serious amount of criticism in the past, which the company has sought to stifle as much as it can. They also pay for positive reviews on Trustpilot, albeit that salient fact is not declared on the many glowing reviews in the way that is required by Trustpilot’s own rules.

At the best of times feedback has suggested that NYFA courses are not worth the money that people shell out – right now that is even more in doubt.

If you know anyone affected, feel free to pass this message on. But don’t hang about, Rob Earnshaw has form for walking away from his financial responsibilities:


National Youth Film Academy (NYFA) – AVOID.

**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 to leave, 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.

**UPDATE**

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.

*UPDATE 2**

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…