It all began when I was around 12; spending countless summer days shooting short films with my cousins and friends. By the time I was in grade 10, I already knew that making movies was something I really wanted to do as a career. When I was in my senior year of high school, I started to research various film schools. Vancouver Film School was automatically my first choice due to its reputation and clever marketing techniques, but after further review I didn’t think it would be realistic to pay $25,000 in tuition for just one year. I had a friend who had gone to Capilano and he said it was pretty good. I looked into their program and the rest is history.
I walked onto the campus for orientation and despite the rain; I immediately knew it was going to be a good year. The other students seemed really friendly and after meeting all the teachers I was excited to learn.
There are two semesters each year and you start off your first semester at Cap taking six courses: The Business of Film, Film Crafts, Editing, Screenwriting, Directing, and Lighting and Camera. You should learn all the basics in three short films consisting of a thirty second commercial, a one-minute film and finally a three-minute film. In these initial movies, you build up and practice your skills for the major project in semester two, where you’ll form teams and produce a five-minute short film with an actual budget of $500.
Trying to balance out your social life with class, scheduling, developing ideas, shooting and editing a five-minute film is ridiculously intense.
Trying to balance out your social life with class, scheduling, developing ideas, shooting and editing a five-minute film is ridiculously intense. At least that’s how I felt at the time. Of course you don’t do all the work yourself, but occasionally you’ll have to pick up the slack for your teammates. Needless to say, the second semester is when you really find out who’s meant to work in the film industry and who’s just there because they thought it would be something cool to try out. The semester is really the opportunity to prove to yourself and others that you’re truly passionate about what you’re doing.
When it’s all said and done, first year is interesting but you’re basically paying for the ultimate basics in film making knowledge. I wouldn’t plan on winning an Oscar, but if you’re lucky you might be able to land a job in the service industry. I learned a lot from first year, but second year is really when the experience jumps to a whole new level.
First year, along with providing you with the bare basics, also weeds out all the people who either didn’t take the courses serious enough or just figured it wasn’t their thing. In all honesty it sounds harsh but you really need to be dedicated for the second year. The first semester is pretty intense as it is. You again start with taking six classes, many of the same as the first year only with more detail and dedication from the instructors. All the teachers in second year know their stuff and really dedicate themselves to teaching you everything they know.
One of my favorite experiences in first semester was in Directing where we would partner up with other students to create six separate 1-minute films in a six week span, all of themes assigned to us by our Directing teacher, Charles Wilkinson. It was a lesson in scheduling. You really had to tough it out and somehow learn to balance living, your courses, and all the homework involved from other classes. Over the course of first semester everyone must write a 10 page script for your screenwriting class which are broken down into three drafts. Nearing the end of first semester (when your in your final stages of writing your script) everyone must pitch their script in front of a panel of faculty members and they will critique your ideas and give you some insight on how to make it better. This is a great learning experience and ideal for hopeful screenwriters who want their story to be put onto the screen.
Once it’s all done, six scripts are selected to be produced with budgets of $2,500.
In the second semester after the scripts have been short listed to just twelve (out of around sixty scripts) willing directors and producers must pitch for the script they want to produce. The directors and producers have separate pitch sessions in front of a panel of three faculty members but already some alliances have been made. Once it’s all done, six scripts are selected to be produced with budgets of $2,500. Producer and director teams have been sorted out and the “crewing up” phase begins. It is a long process but once it is all done everyone must work on all three films, so you get to try a wide variety of tasks and really test out your knowledge from first semester.
They give you a week for pre-production, four days for production and two weeks of post-production per film. That is basically second semester which takes a toll on your dedication and is really where you will make it or break it. Classes like English 100 will soon seem relevant and you’d probably rather catch up on sleep rather than spending three hours in a stuffy classroom. If you show up to all your classes during this time you should be alright, but let me tell you this; it is going to be the roughest time of the year during these projects, but it’s also where you will learn the most. When all the shows are done post production the year seems to switch pace and the rest of the year goes by very slow. Attending regular classes and preparing for final exams is where you’ll spend the most of the last month. I myself faded a bit during this phase, being so burnt out from previous months but I managed to still get decent marks and pass all my tests. Some though were not so fortunate. After the films are screened, we all celebrate the year by having a big party.
I myself am going to take a year off from school, but I hear great things about third year. It is basically a more in depth “second year” with access to better and more advanced equipment, newer and more redefined classes, some even dealing with After Effects.
The program itself is pretty well set up but is consistently changing, and isn’t fined tuned to perfection just yet.
My experience at Capilano has been a good one so far. The program itself is pretty well set up but is consistently changing, and isn’t fined tuned to perfection just yet. I still think that the opportunity to excel in your chosen field is easily achievable here. If you’re planning on going to film school, I highly recommend Capilano University. For the price, around $10,000 in tuition, books, and other materials per year, it’s the best bang for your buck. Though you are not guaranteed a job in the industry right out of school, you will have enough knowledge (after second year) to decide what route you might possibly want to take. You should also know by then if you’re really cut out for the industry and if you still want to get into it. Even so, the school maintains a very high standard and is rapidly becoming one of the premiere film schools in Western Canada.
Check out http://themissinglink.tumblr.com for information about an upcoming documentary film that I will be directing.