Film production students at Toronto Film School will now be able to take Hollywood North by storm immediately after completing their in-class studies, thanks to the launch of a new work placement.
Andrew Barnsley, Toronto Film School’s Executive Producer in Residence, called the introduction of an optional new seventh-term internship to TFS’s 18-month Film Production Diploma an “exciting initiative” that will allow eligible students the opportunity to take their education to the next level.
“A career in the creative industries is exciting and wonderful, and the time students spend in the classrooms and studios during their time at Toronto Film School has certainly given them a foundation for success,” said Barnsley, executive producer of CBC/Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek and CTV’s Jann.
“But the truth is, when it comes to having a successful career in the film and television industries, the biggest building blocks to success are relationships and hands-on experience.”
And that, said Paula Shneer, is where the new work placement programs comes in.
According to Shneer, Senior Director of Education, TFS’s journey to find and secure internships that will help its Film Production students forge the necessary industry networks to get their foot in the door and build up their resumes with the real-world experience most employers demand, began a nearly year ago.
“And we were thrilled with the amount of companies and production houses that were happy to partner with us,” she said, noting that most of the internships on offer are unpaid and require students to work 20 hours a week at local studios, production houses, entertainment and distribution companies, and advertising agencies.
While students can choose from either a six- or 12-month work placement, many of the available internships are offered in three-month increments – giving students the opportunity work at different places, and even perhaps in different roles, for a “more well-rounded” experience, Shneer added.
“Some of the activities that will be carried out in the different work placements include: videographer, camera operator, set lighting, gaffers, camera grips, rigging grips, lighting equipment manager, assistant manager, studio assistant manager, production manager, production assistant, assistant director, script readers, junior editors, assistant editor, assistant colourist, VFX assistant, and on and on,” Shneer said.
Whether a student’s interests lie in pre-production, production or post-production, Yale Massey said the sheer variety of work placements available through TFS’s new work placement program means there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a really great launching pad for all our students’ careers…and really just a phenomenal opportunity to get a sense of what the industry’s all about,” said Massey, the director of TFS’s Film Production Diploma.
While here in Toronto, the “booming” screen-based industry has grown to support an estimated 35,000 jobs every year – a number expected to soon rise to 50,000 with the arrival of Netflix and CBS – Massey said film and television remain “really difficult” careers to break into, especially without the leg-up opportunities like Toronto Film School’s work placement program provide.
“Everyone wants to get into this industry. You’re one of many, many people, so this internship program is a way into a production company, it’s a way to get to know people…and potentially to see four different works placements – and that’s really important,” he said.
“By seeing people every day, you really get into their blood, they really get to know what you’re all about, they understand how skilled you are at certain things… which can be exciting because it’s an opportunity to get work.”
Barnsley – himself the president of the Portlands-based Project 10 Productions – echoed those sentiments: “Now is a real opportunity for Toronto Film School students to get their feet wet in this booming business,” he said.
“With the work placement program, you’ll get to be a part of a $2-billion-a-year industry in Toronto. There are lots of opportunities, there are lots of people to meet, and there’s no better way to get the experience that will give your career a kick-start.”
Students interested in pursuing a Toronto Film School work placement upon completion of the 18-month Film Production Diploma, Shneer said, are required to apply in Term 3 and must maintain a minimum B average for the remainder of their studies.
Those ultimately accepted into the program will receive support from an internship coordinator, who will make site visits to check in and assess the student’s overall work experience.
While the work placement program’s 20-hour-a-week (minimum) commitment allows for students to hold part-time jobs, participating Canadian and Permanent Resident students will also be able to apply for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to help support themselves for the duration of their work placement.