Friendships Come Full Circle

Above: Rob Burgos (B.F.A. '98, M.A. '99), Liza Acevedo (B.F.A. '98, M.A. '99), and Conrad Stojak (B.F.A. '98) reunite at Full Circle Post in New York City. Below (from top): As NYIT students, Acevedo, Stojak, and Burgos filmed scenes all over New York City.

By Michael Schiavetta (M.S. '07)

In 1988, Conrad Stojak (B.F.A. ’98) had a Fisher-Price PXL-2000 and a dream. The $100 plastic “KiddieCorder” gave the 12-year-old filmmaker the freedom to shoot and watch his own movies on TV. “It was the greatest thing ever,” says the Queens, N.Y., native. “Even though it only shot grainy black-and-white footage, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life.”

His dream brought him to NYIT’s Manhattan campus, where the fine arts major met Rob Burgos (B.F.A. ’98, M.A. ’99) in a film history class. Burgos, a teenager from Brooklyn whose original goal was to create video games, got his first glimpse of the TV studio at 1855 Broadway and knew it was the place for him.

It wasn’t long before the duo’s mutual appreciation for film and the creative process forged a friendship that led to them working on several student projects together. The pair learned everything from cutting and splicing film to directing and writing screenplays.

At NYIT, says Burgos, the professors—real-world filmmakers and TV producers in their own right—knew the ins and outs of the equipment and the industry. “It was a hands-on education,” he says. “From the very first day, we were working.”

Joining them on projects was Liza Acevedo (B.F.A. ’98, M.A. ’99). A huge Oprah Winfrey fan, Acevedo chose NYIT to pursue her dream of working in the TV and film industry and recalls how professors Jim Fauvell and Ellen Rind offered wisdom on surviving in a tough industry. “NYIT taught us to be aggressive and thick-skinned,” says Acevedo. “There are no tears in TV.”

During their years at NYIT, the group became inseparable. “We had a great time,” says Burgos. “It was like a 24-hour education.”

The three friends each have their own special memories of trekking around New York City to shoot student films, audition actors, and enjoy the exposure to the business side of TV and film. “There were no restrictions on what we could do,” says Stojak. “Our professors wanted us to get familiar with everything right away.”

After graduation in 1999, they each went their separate ways. Burgos interned at Full Circle Post, a video production studio in New York City, then worked for the company as an online editor and colorist. Stojak went on to produce and direct independent films. Acevedo finally realized her dream and got a job producing shows at Lifetime Television with another NYIT grad, Denise Cavanaugh (B.F.A. ’88, M.A. ’89), whom she met while interning at ESPN.

But years later, Burgos and Acevedo’s paths crossed again at Full Circle Post when the latter was hired as production manager. Today, they provide 3-D graphic design, digital sound mixing, HD editing, and numerous other production services for clients such as HBO, Showtime, ABC News, MTV, Disney, and Columbia pictures. The studio’s work includes the Oscar-nominated documentary, Jesus Camp, as well as In Memoriam, Teddy in His Own Words, and Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Full Circle Post is also producing 26 episodes of Lidia’s Italy, hosted by New York City restauranteur Lidia Bastianich, for PBS.

“Being able to work with people you know and trust creates a great work atmosphere,” says Acevedo. Stojak is an independent film director who also works closely with the staff at Full Circle Post. In November 2008, another NYIT grad, John Rafanelli (B.A. ’08), was hired as assistant editor. Like Burgos, Rafanelli interned at the company when he was an NYIT student.

“Internships are an important part of the educational process,” says Burgos. “When I interned at Full Circle, I showed up as much as I could to let the owner know I was a hard worker with the drive and initiative to succeed.”

His experiential education certainly paid off at Full Circle Post—Burgos now owns the company.

Summer 2010 Table of Contents