Testimonials from Former Students taught by Dean Patrick
As an educator I have had the privilege of guiding the careers of some of the most impressive young people in the motion picture and television industry today. Students who have studied with me have been admitted to some of the most prestigious film schools in the world; three were admitted to The American Film Institute, and more than 25 have been admitted to UCLA, USC, Colombia, and the NYU/Tisch School of Visual Arts, among many others.
They have also been shortlisted for acceptance to the Sundance Screenwriters Laboratory, and have won more than 50 major film festival awards. Here are some of their testimonials, in their own words:
Dean Patrick Kriwanek
Chris Milk would have been a superstar, no matter where he went to school. But the fact is, that although he did go to other film schools, he ended up staying with and graduating with me.
Chris began his career by winning a National Clio for his student spot, which took him to Cannes, which took him to 4 Kanye West videos, 2 TED talks and representation by major agency William Morris/Endeavor and Annapurna Films, for which he now runs a major Virtual Reality company.
He is the most famous, and most successful student I have ever mentored.
Testimonial from Chris Milk: Insight into The Real Film Business
I've had a lot of different film teachers throughout the course of my life's education. It's always an interesting sort of dynamic because a lot of them are very guarded with the real inside world of it all. They're very guarded. They'll teach you what you need to know from a technical standpoint, but they won't really let you know how the business actually works
Before I met Patrick, I was in another program at one of the UC schools. I think that what I really got from Patrick was really not just an education, but a view into how the business works from an insider in the business. I learned a lot of how that worked from an insider perspective when I was in his program.
I think the one thing that I really learned in Patrick's program was what it's actually like to be working in the film business... instead of "how do you adjust the gain on this camera?" and stuff...
When I left and I moved to LA and I started working down here, I think I had a much better understanding of what to expect and how to navigate better the social/political of it all, which is such a huge factor because normally you come out of school and you're just this well-trained technical robot.
But, there's barely any of that from a directorial standpoint. Really, it's all dealing with people and being smart and playing the game.
When I was in the program, there was a huge amount of collaboration between the students. We'd all work on each other's projects.
Being in Patrick's program, there was a real sense of community there. I really felt Patrick really took care of us and that he took care of me. When I needed things, I could go to him. He would always make sure that whatever the resources were that I needed, or whatever the political thing I needed to be dealt with was dealt with.
If it was equipment or if it was crew, or whatever it was, or my classes or instructors or the curriculum or whatever it was... I could always go to him, and he'd always sort it out for me.
From Colin Tilley to Patrick Kriwanek, on March 11, 2009
I just wanted to thank you again for letting me use the facilities a couple of weeks ago. I really appreciate you being so supportive of me and my career, you have been so much help getting my career launched. Talk to you soon man ! Hope everything is swell!- Colin
Testimonials from the many other Bay Area students who took the 7-Weekends Intensive:
National Emmy for Sound Design
Eddie Kim, a former student of Dean Patrick's and a 1999 BFA graduate of the Academy’s School of Motion Pictures & Television, has received an Emmy Award for sound work on the HBO documentary series Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways. It’s one of a number of high profile projects he's contributed to in his growing career.
When Eddie Kim attended Academy of Art University in the ’90s, he envisioned gaining the skills he needed to fulfill his boyhood dream of making a movie that would change the world. But Kim, who worked as a deejay while he was a student, soon found his interest shifting to sound design.
At the time, the Academy didn’t have an audio program. Kim didn’t let that stop him from pursuing his interest in the field. With the help of his instructors in the School of Motion Pictures & Television, he developed his own audio curriculum. “My teachers at the Academy fostered an environment of creativity,” says Kim. “Dean Patrick , especially, was key to my success. He let me focus on audio from the beginning of production, through editing and sound design, for most of my senior year. I did 50 projects for my classmates.”
Kim credits the training and support he received from the Academy for helping him launch his career. “L.A. is notorious for being a hard city to break into as far as getting a job,” he explains. “Talent counts for a lot, but it’s also who you know. The Academy helped me land my first internship at one of the most prestigious sound companies in Hollywood. It was tough coming from San Francisco to L.A., but it would have been a lot tougher if I was doing it on my own.”
Student Testimonials on the 7-Weekend Intensive
I recently just finished the 7-week intensive program at CYLFI, and I would say that Patrick is an exceptional teacher with an exceptional school:
I cannot speak in part for the semester program since I did not take it, but the 7-week intensive was exactly what I was looking for and more. I am currently a student at UC Berkeley majoring in film studies and business administration, and I sought out CYLFI for classes that could educate me more on screenwriting, directing, and producing. Many other programs I looked to join were in-your-face about marketing and money and flashy equipment. I would say CYLFI is fundamentally different in a better, more academic way. Other programs treat students as "inputs" and "outputs," as in they all learn the same technical information that, in my opinion, you can find online or figure out yourself. CYLFI takes an approach on teaching you all the knowledge, responsibilities, and yes...burdens, of being a producer, director, and a leader in the film industry. Being a director/producer is extremely difficult, and from the beginning of the class he made it very clear that it was a leadership course. If you want to learn how to use a camera, I would recommend you to take a camera class. If you want to learn Final Cut, there are a million editing classes you can take. If you want hands-on experience, then sign up for a class in LA that will put you on sets. However, this sets you up to be a crew member on a set along with the other hundred kids that just finished the class with you. Although they are all very valuable resources that I do indeed recommend, if you truly want to become a director or producer, then you have to understand it is a entrepreneurial process that can't be handed to you by a program about using equipment. However, this course with CYLFI sets you up to be ahead of the pack of cameramen that know how to use a camera, but don't know how to shoot a decent film.
Patrick is very knowledgable about the film industry, and the proof is in his lectures. He speaks to you one-on-one and gives plenty of opportunities to feel out the class before taking it. The class is very lecture heavy with a small amount of students in an intimate and comfortable environment that gives you the chance to ask anything you want as well as pitch and develop your future projects. The information he has is extremely valuable in the film industry as a whole, yet it is still structured in a way to prepare yourself to make your first films professional ones. If you seriously want to consider becoming a director or producer, I would highly recommend this course.
Beau D.- Berkeley, CA
Patrick is very knowledgeable about the film industry, and the proof is in his lectures. He speaks to you one-on-one and gives plenty of opportunities to feel out the class before taking it.
The class is very lecture heavy with a small amount of students in an intimate and comfortable environment that gives you the chance to ask anything you want as well as pitch and develop your future projects. The information he has is extremely valuable in the film industry as a whole, yet it is still structured in a way to prepare yourself to make your first films professional ones.
If you seriously want to consider becoming a director or producer, I would highly recommend this course.
Many other programs I looked to join were in-your-face about marketing and money and flashy equipment. I would say CYLFI is fundamentally different in a better, more academic way.
Other programs treat students as "inputs" and "outputs," as in they all learn the same technical information that, in my opinion, you can find online or figure out yourself.
CYLFI takes an approach on teaching you all the knowledge, responsibilities and yes, the burdens, of being a producer, director, and a leader in the film industry.
Being a director/producer is extremely difficult, and from the beginning of the class he made it very clear that it was a leadership course. If you want to learn how to use a camera, I would recommend you to take a camera class.
If you want to learn Final Cut, there are a million editing classes you can take. If you want hands-on experience, then sign up for a class in LA that will put you on sets. However, this sets you up to be a crew member on a set along with the other hundred kids that just finished the class with you.
Although they are all very valuable resources that I do indeed recommend, if you truly want to become a director or producer, then you have to understand it is a entrepreneurial
process that can't be handed to you by a program about using equipment. However, this course with CYLFI sets you up to be ahead of the pack of cameramen that know how to use a camera, but don't know how to shoot a decent film.
Eliot M. - San Francisco, CA
I took the 7 weekend course at CYLFI this summer and have nothing but great things to say about the class and Dean Patrick. The entire course was extremely helpful, and I would recommend anyone considering breaking into the film business to definitely sign up!
I've learned so much in such a short amount of time.
From producing, directing, writing, camera work, and casting, to how to get financing, the list goes on and on. I came into this class not knowing much at all about the film industry and I left with so much confidence and knowledge that I am already in the process of creating my first piece of work.
Patrick, himself, is an amazing teacher. He is very professional and genuinely cares about his students. He is honest and will tell you the truth about how things will really be in the film business, both the good and the bad, and I greatly appreciated that. He goes above and beyond, and makes himself easily available. If you are on the fence about taking this class, don't be. Just take it! You will not regret it. For me personally it is one of the best decisions I've ever made.
Bob W.- Berkeley, CA
Going to Change Your Life was one of the best decisions of my life. I studied and networked hard, and now I'm working on the production of Terminator 5 woo!!!!. For people looking to make a serious investment in their career, it's something that they should really look into.
I loved my time there, both the teachers and the students were exceptional, Patrick , the head instructor, is very smart and has great connections within the industry. He is definitely someone you want to impress. Change Your Life forever changed my life and I'm extremely grateful to have gone there
Erin D.- Berkeley, CA
After working as a production assistant in NYC for a year, I decided to spend some down time in California this summer to work on my script.
I took a chance and decided to call Dean Patrick regarding the 7-weekend course at CYLI to see if the course would be right for me.
Right off the bat, Patrick was extremely supportive and straightforward, something I appreciated given my experience in the industry. Our initial meeting set the tone for the course, and I'm happy that I decided to enroll! The lectures, screenwriting workshops, film coverage -- all are taught with a grain of salt, which is super important for anyone who wants to enter the film business.
Patrick makes sure to provide great mentorship to his students; he shows you the good and bad, shares his experiences and gives you the confidence you need to make your project in to a reality.
Four stars, only because I wish I had gotten a chance to spend more time learning from him.
Zoya S.- Richmond, CA
I had a really positive experience with Change Your Life - I attended a short workshop in hopes that I would be able to do more web video work as part of my job and make short films on my own time (something I've been interested in and working on for a long time).
I worked primarily with Patrick - the schools director, but also with Fred, the screenwriting teacher. I have a fair bit of experience in film making and production, so I wasn't expecting to be blown away, however, I was happily surprised.
I was floored by the amount of information, intuition and authenticity the tutors displayed.
Patrick totally seemed willing to go out of his way to answer my questions and had really practical advice about filmmaking, pitching ideas to the industry and problem solving budget constraints.
All in all, I was pleased with the bang I got for my buck and although some people here have expressed annoyance about the list of film festivals that student films did make it into, personally I was kind of impressed that for such a young school so many students have had successes.
Etan B.- Venice, CA
Can't say enough about CYLFI. I left Facebook to explore film and could not have picked a more interesting experience. The program is not like your typical film school - you learn from teachers with real world experience, and are shooting your first (most of the time, embarrassing) shoot within months after the first semester - but the support you get is unbelievable. Patrick has created a space for a real family - and real unity grows between the students.
Cannot say enough about it - and cannot share how grateful I was to have discovered this place. It's a challenging place for those who want to be spoonfed, but for those of us who want to do - there's no better place.
Bernardo G. - Berkeley, CA
I went to Change Your Life for Screenwriting last year and learned a lot. The teacher Mr. Patrick is extremely knowledgeable and engaging with the students.
His vast knowledge of the industry helped me immensely. What I liked most of all is the school teaches exclusively in digital film making which is the future. If you want to get ahead in the business, go to the Change Your Life Film Institute and soak up as much information as you can.
Austin R. - Berkeley, CA
I attended the CYLFI for two years, now I'm working on my first feature film in the bay area as a production assistant. CYLFI is not a traditional school. It is more of a hands-on coalition from various filmmakers who want to give back and help raise the next generation of filmmakers. The teachers there are knowledgeable and informative, and can teach the Hollywood method of film making. The environment isn't for everyone. The school focuses on digital film making and is not traditional. CYLFI focuses on the future not the present.
It isn't easy, however those who are willing to work hard and explore things in a more hands-on than traditional education regarding film making will not be disappointed.
Patrick the head instructor is very knowledgeable and informative regarding the subject. I recommend it to anyone interested in learning film making but who doesn't want to go through the traditional methods at other more academic schools.
Patrick V. - Berkeley, CA
Attended the 7 weekend CYLFI program in March 2014. Classes were restricted to 8 students which enabled an intimate learning experience with productive interaction between Patrick and all class members.
My goal was to get a good grounding in the essential elements of film making and to develop my own project. The course covered script writing, screenplay development casting, location scouting, site selection, camera work, lens selection, directing, production and financing. All in all a solid foundation to work with and build on.
Bruce G. - San Francisco, CA
If you're looking for a good place to learn about the art and business of film making, CYLFI is great. I took a short workshop with Patrick and he really helped me home my script writing and get me up to speed in the digital film world.
I went to film school at UCSB in the early nineties when we used actual film, it was great to have a place to learn about the technical advances of digital film and editing. I know have confidence when I buy equipment and shoot my own videos. I am able to charge people more money because I know what I'm doing and talking about! They get a better product thanks to my time spent at CYLFI.
Symone P. - Pittsburg, CA
I completed a 7 weekend course at CYLFI in February/March 2012. I researched other schools before taking the course.The instruction I received at CYLFI was excellent with experienced film instructors teaching the courses.
The 7 weekend course I attended focused on how to produce and direct a film in the Hollywood film style. The classes I attended at CYLFI were well thought out, and the presentations were interesting with a lot of examples of specific films to illustrate points made in the class. I especially liked the instruction we received on how to direct a film.
The classes are not just theory. Each student gets the chance to cast actors, and to direct a short film from a short screen play written in the screen play class by the student. The format of the courses and the feedback from the instructors helped me understand the subjects of the courses.
I believe the learning experience was enjoyable in large part due to the effort made by the Director and other instructors to fully answer my questions, and create a collaborative learning environment. I was also impressed with the willingness of the fulltime students who were more advanced to take the time to make new students feel welcome at the school.
I learned a lot about the process of directing, producing and filming movies at CYLFI and Icertainly appreciated the professional experience and knowledge of the instructors and the attitude of the instructors towards the students. I feel that the school fully delivered what it states on its website.
FJ L. - Berkeley, CA
This is a great film school.
Patrick offered a consulting workshop to our production studio the day before we went on a 3 week shoot to India and Nepal. I can safely say his workshop completely changed and enhanced the quality of our experience.
If you have ever gone abroad for a shoot, you know how important it is to be organized, prepared, and ready for anything. Patrick taught our team so much in such a short time it would be an understatement to say we were all blown away. Many of us thought that after 4 years of film school and working in the industry, there is not too much left to learn.
Patrick quickly proved us wrong!
Looking back on the trip, checking out the amazing footage and production we have going now, and looking into the future of our company, we all want to offer Patrick and Change
Change Your Life, a GIGANTIC, thank you.
Richard D. - Berkeley, CA
I took a film workshop last week at the Digital Film institute with Patrick . Patrick was incredibly informative and knowledgeable, and the content was comprehensive and detailed. Having toured the school extensively as part of the course, it is clear that the school is well equipped and staffed with people who are experienced, accomplished and dedicated. The number of awards won by alumni of this school is truly impressive. I would recommend it unhesitatingly to anyone wanting to learn more about film making or the business structures behind it. Excellent!
Nick L. - Cazadero, CA
Attended a two-day seminar with Patrick which was immensely helpful to our organization. Patrick is astoundingly capable in myriad ways, both technical and personal.
I recommend anything to do with him.
Brian B. - Berkeley, CA
Recently attended a two-day seminar at the Change Your Life Film Institute. The workshop was put together to educate our newly founded non-profit organization (GunaFoundation.org) on the basics of documentary filmmaking.
Most of Guna had never picked up a camera until attending CYLFI; when asked to describe our film making experiences, most of our team described themselves as "complete novices."
For the first day of the workshop, Patrick and his assistant,Eric, gave swift, highly concentrated lectures and demonstrations on the basics of film making, including: the importance of intellectual property / story, framing + composition, coverage, interview technique, using Final Cut Pro, and using the Canon 5DMark II.
The second day of the workshop was basically a Q&A focused around how to actualize Guna's various documentary projects. With great care and patience, Patrick addressed our various concerns and questions: ranging anywhere from "How do I best tell this story to my audience?" to "Do I need a jib for my shoot?" Patrick's real-world production experiences showed not only in his knowledge of the game, but also in his pleasant, tactful demeanor.
For a group of people who walked into CYLFI not knowing much of anything about film making, I can already see how valuable the experience has been- we are starting to make concrete decisions on how our documentary will be produced, and what we need to make it happen.
Furthermore, I attended this workshop having already completed a four-year film school, in NY, and having worked as an independent Director/Producer, for three years. Even though most of the material was stuff I already knew, I found Patrick's lectures to be insightful / borderline philosophical. I was engaged throughout the entire process, and knew that his teachings were legit.
If you are looking for a film school that will actually *teach* you how to Produce + Direct, this is it.
Don N. - Whitefish, MT
I just finished a two day special class designed to help our organization with creating a documentary film. The class was wonderful, well organized, results oriented and totally professional. If you are looking for a place of learning that provides great results then this is it.
P. M. - Santa Rosa, CA
I was truly impressed with CYLFI. The depth of knowledge and attention to each person was amazing. The director had a wonderful ability to tap into what we needed and to help us work towards realizing our final goals. Fluid and dynamic, the two-day seminar was productive and inspiring.
Marcy C. - Berkeley, CA
My experience at CYLFI was perfect for my situation as a mom, and allowed me to pursue a career that I wished I would have started earlier in my life. As a photographer coming in, I segued nicely into the program, and worked closely with Fred Ritzenberg who mentored me while writing a feature length screenplay which we plan to shoot in 2012 called Fish Can't Scream. I have also partnered with fellow classmate Jules Kobelin to form ARTiDOCs which is our small production company that creates documentaries on artists.
One of the great things about the program are the great relationships that are formed and nurtured as there are so many shoots required giving everyone lots on hands on experience. This really helps students identify their specific field of interest. As a whole, the work coming out of the school is every bit as impressive as work I've viewed at festivals and online from students coming out of top schools.
It is an intimate school, with a lot of personal attention, so the advanced opportunities are there for the wise who take them. The school started out as a small program but has grown both in terms of student body and equipment. Patrick, the founder of the school, is very passionate about his work and his commitment to the students and makes every effort to
support them. He has a great support team himself including Eric Katsuleres who is his assistant that tends to the nuts and bolts of the program. For a person who is willing to take advantage of opportunity, this is a great school.
Louisa d. - Berkeley, CA (Later admitted to Columbia Film Program
Change Your Life Film Institute is an absolute gem in the Bay Area.
I attended the 10 week Summer program last year and it was absolutely one of the most positive experiences I have ever had. The faculty is incredibly dedicated, professional and all are highly accomplished in their fields. Cinematography, editing on Final Cut Pro, screenwriting, producing and directing are among the courses CYLFI offers.
I was given all the skills needed to shoot a 7 minute film that I am now submitting to festivals. This school has set me on track for an exciting career in film and has given me so many invaluable connections and resources.
I can't say enough how unusual this school is, the students are supported to find their own voices in an atmosphere of creativity and support. We all worked together on each others shoots and the sense of teamwork was really impressive for such a short period of time. There is also an 18 month program and 10 week night classes are also offered.
Nick M. - Martinez, CA
Part school, part production company, CYLFI offers extensive experience working on narrative fiction, music videos, and documentary films. You choose what you want to focus on, whether it be directing, editing, writing, producing, etc. The school adapts to your needs. The faculty is fun and extremely knowledgeable, not to mention available outside of class time to help guide you. Friendship and community is also a huge part of what makes this school great.
Highly recommended for those looking to make movies.
Vince A. - Berkeley, CA
Change Your Life Film Institute is perhaps one of the best film schools I've checked out in the SF Bay Area. It really feels comfortable there, and seems like a really good jumping off point. Check it out for yourself.
Jules K. - Albany, CA