Rob Earnshaw: What does it mean to be a NYFA Member?

Rob Earnshaw’s Talk at The Introductory Course at the NYFA

It’s the first day of the National Youth Film Academy Introductory Course. Rob Earnshaw, director and founder of NYFA, is giving a talk to all the future filmmakers in the room about how it all started and what being a NYFA member means to him.

Inspiration and Success

When Rob was just a boy, he tells us, he had a dream of being a dustbin man. Unlike the usual reactions of most parents, his father gave him one of most important pieces of advice he’d ever receive:

“Son, I don’t care if you to be a dustbin man, but if you are… Make sure you’re the best dustbin man in the world!”

Rob took this to mean be the best at what you do, whatever you do. At 17, being a dustbin man wasn’t top of the list anymore. But, Rob was sure of one thing- he wanted to be successful. After talking to a handful of affluent individuals to found out how they ‘made it’, his definition of ‘success’ soon changed.

“I met lots of rich lawyers, bankers, and high net-worth individuals – they seemed miserable”

They weren’t the role models he was looking for. That was when Rob met Jane. After over-hearing she had won an award for care in her community, Rob decided to get to know her. Jane worked at a school for the less abled, she was passionate about her work and she was good at it. Rob believes that this is a part of what it means to be a NYFA member.

How it all started

Rob left home at 18, regardless of struggling to make ends meet, he whole-heartedly decided that the film industry was the place for him. After some investigative research (pretending he was a Stats student at university and ringing up industry professionals for facts and figures) he realised the how tough the film industry could be. It was hard for the industry to find new talent if they didn’t have agents. It was hard for young talent to get an agent without professional experience. So, the UK needs a website to make it easier for the talent to break into the industry.

That’s when Rob met Tejas Mistery. After tirelessly searching for someone to create a website for his idea and receiving quotes above and beyond £50,000, it seemed near impossible. Tejas Mistery, offered Rob a deal- if he sold enough of his websites then he would make the website for him for free. Rob managed to sell the sites, Tejas, keeping up his end of the bargain made Rob his site. Tejas gave Rob the second most important advice he would never receive:

“It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s WHO KNOWS YOU!”

After this, Rob made the rounds in the industry making sure everyone knew who he was. Even any needed young talented actors- Rob knew where to find them.

The National Youth Film Academy

At 21, Rob’s site had reached 60,000 subscribers and it had become the biggest directory for young actors in the UK. Each morning, he woke up with a purpose and passion.  He was, by his own definition- Successful.

It was at 23 that the BFI asked Rob to come in and lead some workshops for young actors.

“I thought, I seem to be good at getting young actors into work – can I do this with young filmmakers?”

This was the beginning of the National Youth Film Academy. The NYFA had a clear vision: to locate, nurture and promote the very best young actors and filmmakers in British film. Today, that is exactly what it does.

So, what does it mean to be NYFA member?

Rob made a bet with his audience at the end of his talk:

“I bet, that one of you sat in this room today will be a BAFTA winner.”

“No, really, think about that for a second”

Rob advises the room,

“If you are determined to become a success, it starts today; wake up in the morning with a purpose, be passionate about what you and your team are going to achieve in the day and most of all make sure your actions are respected by your peers, your tutors, and this organisation” 

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