Emmy-winning producer Andrew Guidone ’94 entered BFS as a ninth grader. He’s never been a practicing Quaker, but a seemingly prophetic encounter the year before his arrival in 1990 sparked his curiosity. “I had a tutor during my last year of junior high school,” he intimated, “and she revealed to me on her last day that she belonged to a religion called the Society of Friends.” Andrew had never heard of it. Frankly, he thought it sounded strange. “She said, ‘I bet you have some misgivings about this but it’s not a cult, it’s a way of life, without all the pageantry of Christianity. We encourage free thinking and individuality, and for people to question things.’ I took a liking to that.”
Indeed he found the BFS classroom experience to be atypical of what he had encountered before. “The textbook was a tool, it wasn’t necessarily words to live by,” he recalled. “You didn’t regard whatever was in the book as law. You were encouraged to make you own decisions.”
BFS was also this lifelong Brooklynite’s first experience at an independent school. “I was in a Brooklyn public [junior high] school beforehand. Some other friends of mine were considering private educations. BFS seemed like a nurturing place, which I liked,” he said. At Andrew’s junior high school, 35 students per class was the norm. “You felt like you were among the throngs of people, and I wasn’t what you would call an A+ student. BFS gave me a second chance at making good. They were willing to work with someone like me. From the outset it seemed like you had a good deal of individual attention, which is the main reason why you would consider a private school. I remember my parents telling me the teachers’ hearts would be into it.” After spending a few weeks here he felt inclined to agree with them. “The teachers felt human.”
He elaborated further about those teachers. “History teacher and Humanities Chair Lawrence Gibson was the first one I met. He was the one who was extending the branch, if you will. At the time he was the Head of the Upper School. He said you need to get on the ball and do the work but I see potential in you, and I think you’ll have a fruitful experience here. He, like a lot of the teachers, took a vested interest in his students’ future.” also named Head of School Jim Handlin as an influence. “He brought us Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, the vagabond poets he called them.”
Being Brooklyn born and raised, with an Italian-American dad from the borough and a mother from Shanghai, Andrew was careful not to sound dismissive of Brooklyn’s educational system. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t have evolved in public school but Quaker values help us become more inquisitive people. We’ve always been taught or shown ways of being more philanthropic, to give back, not just to the people who helped us but to humankind. It was the kind of school where we’d go to hearings at Borough Hall in our free time. Can you imagine being allowed to do that at another school?” Quaker values also inspired him to work after school as a writer for a humanist newspaper in his Park Slope neighborhood.
Today Andrew is an Emmy-winning videographer, and he made clear that he considers BFS directly responsible for this career path. A parent who worked as a network TV videographer had made a sizable donation of video equipment to the school but there weren’t yet any formal film or video courses, so the equipment sat underutilized in a small room in the library. “I played around with that and made what I’d like to think is the school’s first newscast. I dubbed it BFS News. It was played during student assemblies. Any event at the school, in any grade, maybe it was current events and how it was being taught in a classroom, we’d cover that, sort of as a way of informing the rest of the school what was going on.”
Andrew’s work spurred enough interest from other students that later on BFS brought in an alum of the school to teach a film production course. “It was one factor that motivated me to pursue a career in film,” he said. When senior year rolled around, “I got plenty of encouragement from my advisor Sue Aaronson, and the alum nudged him to enroll in the School of Visual Arts. My school newscasts served as a reel for me to show SVA and they gave me a partial scholarship. That certainly helped my parents’ pocketbook.”
After college Andrew worked initially as a freelance editor. “I had just gotten an award from the Academy of Television Arts & Science, the Emmy people, and opened a company in Tribeca with a couple of college buddies,” he explained. “The majority of my work was for network cable television, the music industry, and a lot of videography as well.” After nearly a decade he made the move from editing to producing, and has for the past six years worked for New York City’s government-owned television stations NYC Life and NYC Media.
“I produce content that’s relevant to New Yorkers. It informs them of how city government works for them, be it the Department for the Aging or the Fire Department.” This might sound like bureaucratic drudgery but Andrew points out that the work is high quality and engaging. “We’re celebrating the city’s history and architecture through long-form documentaries,” he said. “I’m working on an Emmy-winning show now called Blueprint | NYC which has been on NYC Media since 2004. We won an Emmy in 2009 for a piece I did on Henry Hudson. I have to tip my hat to my History teachers Lawrence Gibson and Jack Ramey on that. Anything I do that has to do with history I think about the lessons I learned in class. ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it,’ was one of jack’s favorite lines. I took that to heart, and I still try to learn as much as I can.”
Outside of work, Andrew spends time with his wife, Kristine, exploring the city’s multifaceted food scene. “Well, who isn’t a foodie nowadays,” he joked, “but we do the foodie thing. We met through a bowling group. It’s what united us.”
Joking aside, even during his off hours Andrew’s usually got a camera in his hand. “I have a natural curiosity for people, especially those who are disenfranchised,” he said. “Being an adult makes you pay attention to more of the ills in the world. It causes you to pick up that camera and point out what’s wrong. That’s the heart of any documentarian, putting a spotlight on what is unjust.”
Andrew recently shot some promotional videos for the school’s new website, including interviews with current seniors Abrielle Moore and Charlie Hills. Click the links to experience his stellar handiwork.