In high school I started to really get into films, and after high school I became very interested in film making. I didn’t really do any research which could have turned out for better or worse. I didn’t look into VFS, the Arts Institute, or SFU. I heard good things about CAP and checked out their website, it looked like they had it together. It was that simple. I applied very early in June, and when October came around they had an impromptu information night. It wasn’t an open house or anything, just some faculty members speaking in an auditorium. Still, it was enough to validate that the school had their stuff together, that it wasn’t just bullshit.
Breakdown by Year
The first year of CAP is for people who want to be service workers. It’s not really for the creative, but more for technical people who just want to get their foot in the door in the industry. You still make small films your first semester and then continue on to 5 minute films in the second semester However, what I will say is first year really is a warm-up for second year. It’s up to you how far you want to go, but I think anyone who is serious about film should do the two years. Some people leave before they really experience what the program is about. Having said that, I would say third year is probably weaker than second year because you’ve already learned so much. They are also working on a fourth year, which would make it a degree program.
In the second semester you work on final projects, which are usually about 10 minutes per piece. The films are a very big deal and really where the program is the strongest.
In the second year, you really start to get a feel for what the whole program is about. There are classes on sound, advanced editing, directing and production design to name a few. All the classes are very solid and quite enjoyable, and working on a short film project every week means you get a great balance of class work and practical teaching. In the second semester you work on final projects, which are usually about 10 minutes per piece. The films are a very big deal and really where the program is the strongest. Capilano isn’t afraid to pick some scripts which are larger in scale, and most students treat their roles very professionally and seriously.
The third year follows similar parameters to the second year, except you have access to better gear for both your 1 minute short films every week and your big 2nd semester projects.
Administrative Side Notes
The school is pretty industry based. They have a very professional attitude, which is the right way to do things, but if you’re an independent spirit, or rebellious, you could have some problems with the faculty. Some films are not going to fly. Teamwork is a big part of filmmaking and the school instills that into you early on, so if you’re the type of filmmaker who only wants to write, direct and edit their own films, then this isn’t the school for you.
All the money is up front in your tuition, except for books. It’s the only money you’ll have to pay. For the $9,000 a year you’ll spend, about $2000 will be budgeted for for your films for that year. For things which you can’t afford, there is opportunity to pitch it to the faculty members. If the director and producer can convince the faculty why it’s essential to the film, there’s a chance that they’ll get what they want. The faculty will try to help you the best they can, but sometimes you’ll have to put up your own money. One year, a film required a process trailer. Basically that’s a car attached to the back of a trailer, then a truck tows it around so it’s like filming while you’re driving. It just comes back to their very professional approach to the films.
The faculty is pretty solid. They care about their job, and they care about you. With any school there is always a weak link, but generally Capilano is very good. If you want to be on set in the industry you’ll learn a lot from them. For some, teaching doesn’t come naturally, however the real world knowledge always comes through.
I would definitely recommend Capilano University. You get a sense of what a set is like through the experience of directing a movie with a crew of thirty or more people. There are people you need to answer to, and there’s a responsibility on your shoulders. The sets on Cap are about as real as you can get.
Right now I’m working as a production assistant in the film industry. It sounds more glamorous than it is. It’s a step in, nothing long term, but it’s a job. You get more on-set experience. I’m also working on a pilot with some friends from school. I’m directing, and we’re hoping to start production in mid March, so I’m busy prepping for that. I’ll just continue working here and there in the industry, and hopefully one day I’ll have some success with my own projects.
I think if you want a school which guarantees you a job, then you shouldn’t go into the film industry.
At the same time, you’re never guaranteed a job. That’s one thing I learned about the industry. If you want work you have to do it yourself. You can’t rely on any other people. Nothing comes guaranteed. I think if you want a school which guarantees you a job, then you shouldn’t go into the film industry.
If you’re going to attend school, be ready for it. Pick the school that suits you. It doesn’t have to suit your friends or anybody else, just you. Find out if they’re academic, if they’re practical, or if they’re hands on. Look at their past student films. There is no right or wrong school much in the same way that there is no one way in life or film. Go find a path that suits you. Don’t have a sense of entitlement. The only person who makes your films is you.