“Visionary” is a word often applied to successful entrepreneurs. However, in the case of Patrick DiRenna, the vision is especially remarkable for its timing. Sensing a sweeping revolution about to engulf filmmaking, DiRenna co-founded New York’s Digital Film Academy (DFA) in 2001. To appreciate his boldness, consider this: the seeds of digital filmmaking were planted only in the late 1990s. Today, digital filmmaking dominates not only how movies and other media are created, but also how they are distributed.
However, when his academy needed funds to begin an expansion phase, “banks were not interested,” recalls the former actor, director and producer. “They all wanted to focus on traditional businesses in traditional circumstances, and I’m untraditional.”
The search finally ended when DiRenna found Savoy Bank. “At Savoy, I found bankers who were willing to take the trouble to see what the academy was all about,” he says. “They visited on five occasions, evaluated the competition, and led me step by step through the SBA loan process. They understood the growth potential my school was tapping into and were with me all the way.”
That funding opened the door to a major expansion period. DFA –which has grown to occupy 12,000 square feet from its original 2,400– recently enlarged its curriculum to offer intensive course work in the rapidly growing field of website and software development coding. In addition, DFA is planning to open a facility in New Jersey, a major undertaking that will enable the school to confer degrees. The new campus will be financed by a line of credit from Savoy.
“It’s not a stretch to say that without Savoy stepping up to make it happen, my school would not be where it is today,” DiRenna says. “It’s a banking relationship that has been of great benefit to DFA, and I expect it will continue to grow for many years to come.”