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Becoming ‘The Mediator’ | Marie-Soleil Kielec’s Film Production Story

Managing chaos and spreading happiness.

 

Those are just two of the unique abilities Toronto Film School graduate Marie-Soleil Kielec brings to the table as valedictorian of the Film Production Diploma’s graduating class.

They’re also the some of the strengths she’s hoping will spur her to success in her future endeavours as an assistant director ­– a role she “fell in love with” over the course of her 18 months at TFS.

 

“Being able to manage chaos, guide people in the right direction, and make sure people get a chance to come to life – that’s what I love about AD-ing. Sure, people might hate you one second, but in the end, your job is to bring people together,” said the 19-year-old Cornwall native, christening her role as that of “the mediator”.

 

“I try to keep positive and upbeat and happy so that other people can feel the same – to spread the happiness, as corny as that sounds. Because if you love the people you work with, then you’re going to love your job.”

 

Growing up in a small, industrial town with limited creative outlets, Kielec said a future in film didn’t always feel like it was within her grasp.

 

In fact, despite growing up making and editing little films as a kid, a career in the industry was a dream Kielec wasn’t even aware she harboured until she discovered TFS.

 

“I asked for a camcorder for Christmas one year as a little kid and just kind of winged it through my whole childhood,” she said, noting her first-ever short was a 20-second film of herself stealing a quarter that she edited together on Windows Movie Magic software.

 

“We didn’t have any classes in school or anything, so I didn’t have proper guidance, other than YouTube videos.”

 

Even after discovering TFS as a high school senior searching online for potential universities and colleges to attend, the ultimate decision to apply, Kielec admitted, was a bit of a struggle.

 

She didn’t initially tell her family about wanting to apply to TFS, she said, because she was afraid they couldn’t afford it ­– but when her “extremely supportive” parents found out about her film school aspirations, they called TFS themselves, got her all the information she needed, and insisted that she apply.

 

“When I got in, I was really, really happy. I liked that the program was condensed (to 18 months), so that I could get my career off the ground faster ­– even though I knew absolutely nothing about film at the time,” she laughed.

 

“When I look back to then and see where I’m at now, I’m like, wow! Even in just the last two years, I went from a 10 to a 90 – I improved so much, it’s insane.”

 

During her 18 months at TFS, Kielec said she learned a “hella lot” about film – something she credits to the teaching staff at the school, as well as the many connections within the industry she’s met as a result.

 

 

“The teachers at TFS, you can pick their brains for hours and they’re completely open to it – email them, ask to grab a coffee, and they’ll say yes and you can just talk to them. They’re all so nice, and so open, and genuinely want to help you,” she said, urging incoming TFS students to take advantage of those potential networking connections while they’re in school, as she did.

 

“Personally, I got an internship, a paid internship, two commercials, a short film, then another project, all from treating school as work, as the beginning of my career.”

 

In addition to the professional growth she’s undergone at TFS, Kielec said she’s also grown immeasurably as a person since making the move to Toronto.

 

“I was really scared, but really excited to move to here – and once I did, within a day, I felt so much relief. I felt so free, like I could be my own person. I grew so much here, and was able to grow my self-esteem here. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to take that leap,” she said.

 

“I can’t equate all of that to Toronto Film School, but it was 100 per cent part of the environment that provided me with the tools I needed to become who I am today.”

 

Since completing her Film Production studies at TFS, Kielec has already completed work on a couple of short films, and has an out-of-town project booked over the summer.

 

And come October, she said, she plans on joining the union so she can work her way up through the ranks from production assistant to her ultimate dream job as a professional assistant director.

 

“It’s quite a difficult job and a lot of responsibility, but I love the challenge,” she said, noting that her time at TFS has prepared her to overcome any obstacles that come in her way.

 

“I’ve gained a lot more experience, learned how to collaborate, to trust, to delegate, and most of all, how to let go and just have fun.”