From Film School To Pitching Pilots

BY JACKIE C. WHO GRADUATED IN 2008.

So, my story about applying to Humber’s Film and Television Production program and going through school are likely pretty different than the average person. But let me start off by saying that I did pay for it myself, with the help of OSAP, bursaries and scholarships.

I started school a couple of years after high school. I ended up spending all my savings traveling the globe. Most people think that once you take that much time off of school, you likely won’t want to go back. Wrong. I couldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait to live the experience, and that is just what it was: An experience.

I am so glad I didn’t now, since [Toronto Film School] has gone out of business!

Dodging A Bullet

First off, I was actually going to go to Toronto Film School. I am so glad I didn’t now, since it has gone out of business! The reason why? Well a couple. For starters I wanted to live in residence. I wanted that experience. The TFS did not have that. They had no residence and The TFS course of study went over 15 months. That was it. You wouldn’t get summers off either. It was five weeks on one week off, or something like that.

So, I applied to Humber. I tried to get into the Film and TV production program but it was too late for me. I never paid attention to the deadlines. Lesson 1: Pay attention to the deadlines! So, I applied for something called Media Foundations. It was a one-year course. I ended up applying simply because I needed to get back to the student life. I did not apply to any other school, just so you can note that.

I chose the school simply because I few of my friends went there. That’s it. I applied in late February and was accepted sometime in early May. One of the happiest days of my life, that is for sure!

The First Course: Media Foundations:

This first year was harder for me because I did not seek any help from advisors or financial aid. I tried OSAP but at that time they were unwilling to help me because my parents made “too much money.” Well, they were not willing to help so I applied for a student line of credit from the Royal Bank. That’s how I made it through my first year.

The Media Foundations course was, in my opinion, a breeze course. Now, I will be completely honest with you all, it was hard to get into school after two years off and it was absolutely even harder keeping grades up in your first year of college. Let’s face it: Booze, late nights, hundreds of new friends and much more awaits you. This course helped ease my way into college life. It touched upon everything to do with media: Public Relations, Journalism, Creative Writing, Web Design, Photography, video and editing and Graphic Design. A basic course if you know you want to work in media but are not sure what you want to do within the field.

The great thing about Humber is that we were one of few schools that still used Film within our curriculum.

The Film and Television Experience

This course was a complete hands on experience. We started off the first year learning the basics of shooting a monologue. Within that there were the basics of lighting, framing, story-boarding and script writing. The great thing about Humber is that we were one of few schools that still used Film within our curriculum. We experienced true cinematography.

Documentaries and short studio dramas were the second year. We honed in on what we learned the first year and took up specific roles. For example, I chose the role of Producer and Director. I was able to use my skills to learn how to budget a small film and work with actors and talent.

Third year was likely the most stressful. Here we chose specific classes we wanted to pursue. We only could choose three electives. The electives could be: Script Writing, Directing, Production Management, Post Production, Cinematography, Sound and, to this date, they are adding a few more specific electives. From here we worked on a major thesis short film. We worked on several. I produced three short films.

This film course is great because you do exactly what you might do in the “real world.” It is the best hands on experience. It is not easy and you inevitably learn the hard way, which in my personal opinion is better than learning the hard way when you’re already in an industry and your reputation depends on it.

You make good friends in the process and, unfortunately, you lose good friends in the process. It is a very high octane course and is demanding of each student to work their hardest in order for everyone to succeed. Again, that is hard to do and ends in break ups and heartache. Lesson 2: Don’t expect your peers to do the work for you. This is a course that relies on individual talents and if you don’t hold your own, the walls come crumbling down.

Bursaries, Awards and Scholarships

Okay, let me just say, if you don’t ask, you likely don’t get. Once I applied for my OSAP my 2nd year of school, I was granted the Millennium Grant because, low and behold, I managed to get an A average the year before. What does that mean? Well, $3, 500 from the government and an extra $500 from the school for doing well.

On top of that I applied for the Millennium Award of Excellence. I was able to get an $8,000 scholarship as well as a $2,500 grant to do work in Nicaragua. This award unfortunately only existed from 2000 to 2010.

I worked on a trip to Jamaica where I was doing a lot of humanitarian work and video work. With some talks with my professors and the financial aid, Humber was able to give me $2,000. Oh wait, I also met with the President of Humber College and he took care of my airfare.

As the years went by and I went through some financial strain, I just talked to the right people.

As the years went by and I went through some financial strain, I just talked to the right people. The people who cared and the people who can help you. Let me say this, be friends with everyone. Talk to everyone. I befriended all the staff and faculty at Humber and well, it helps. When you are in need or are in a crisis, those people will help. They can help. Whether it be someone to talk to, a councilor or an advisor, Humber had the best. You treat people with respect; you will likely get it, and then some.

My biggest help was that I was, and still am a very avid humanitarian who does a lot of volunteer. People respect that, and they will help you out for it and give you extra time if you need it. Believe me.

The Best and The Worst

Okay so, the worst part about this field is technology. Let’s face it, technology gets better and better every single day so, to stay up on it is near impossible and rather frustrating. The worst part of this course is that, a lot of the tech things we have learned will be obsolete in a couple of years. The tech things people learned five years ago are totally revamped and so on.

The great thing about Humber is that it has kept up with the Jones’, so to speak. They have invested hundreds of thousands per year. We were actually the first College in all of North America to output and screen our final projects on High Definition. Incredibly and exhausting feat.

Don’t think you will be babysat either. The thing that kills me about some people is they expect to be handfed. Deal with it. Understand you are on your own now and have to deal with your own personal issues.

The class sizes we had were exceptional in my opinion. We were able to learn effectively. However, I do know that the course has increased dramatically and that it has posed several issues of equipment use etc. It was pretty good in my year. There was a sufficient amount of facilities and equipment to go around. The facilities are prioritized for year 1′s, 2′s, and 3′s. This makes it easier and does not allow over lapping or older years to take priority. This was then. Now, the classes have doubled. I can only imagine there will be issues.

Another pro/con for me is that this course is now a degree program. So, you can take a course similar to this, a four-year course and end up with a degree. I am disappointed because I would have loved to get a degree. If I want to, I need to spend at least another two years at university. So, look into the degree program similar to this course available at Humber Lakeshore.

I don’t mean showing a slight interest either. It’s an all or nothing type thing.

What I Learned and Where I Am

I would recommend the Media Foundation program to those who have a high interest in pursuing a career in media. I would also recommend the Film and TV program to anyone who is interested in film and TV production. I don’t mean showing a slight interest either. It’s an all or nothing type thing.

I have learned a lot from this. The program and general life as a whole. I have learned I do NOT want to live in the industry like most people. And by that, I mean, I don’t want to start off at the bottom and rise up slowly and utterly exhaust my life in a purely non-fulfilling way.

I understand that you must start at the bottom and that I get. But, I don’t think it’s where my life should go.

Because of my humanitarian involvement, it has brought me closer to youth and kids. I want to make a difference and become a teacher in Communication Arts. So, I can combine my two passions in one. Working with youth and still working in the film and television area.

At this point in time I am working on two television show pilots. One based on my travels; check out www.survivorchan.com and another, well, it’s more a secret because it will likely get picked up!

In between college I have traveled to several countries and have done numerous extracurricular activities. At this point I am running my own restaurant to help pay off loans and to fund other travel projects.