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April Spotlight | Amazing TFS Faculty, Alumni & Student Accomplishments

At Toronto Film School, we never cease to be amazed by the accomplishments of our awesome alumni, students and faculty, who are out pursuing their dreams in the creative industries – be it winning prestigious competitions and awards, securing sought-after jobs in their field, or landing roles on movies, TV shows and web series.

Here are some of the recent standout highlights from Toronto Film School’s talented community of creatives:

Acting Instructor John Tench Celebrates Quintet of New and Upcoming Roles

Toronto Film School’s John Tench has enjoyed a very busy year on set, with a quintet of roles that will have him appearing – and sometimes dying – on both the big and small screens in the coming year.

Not only did the Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre instructor recently appear in an episode one of the CBC’s latest comedy gems, but he’s also got a recurring role on an hotly anticipated new Amazon Freevee series, and a trio of movie roles the he filmed this past fall.

“Spoiler alert: I celebrated my 74th and 75th on-camera death scenes on a couple of these projects,” he laughed. “Guess which ones?”

John Tench and One More Time Star Geri Hall.
John Tench on the set of One More Time with series star Geri Hall.

Tench played “The Hawk” on one episode of the CBC’s new half-hour workplace comedy series, One More Time, which follows DJ (J. Demers), the hard-of-hearing manager of a second-hand sporting goods store, and the team of misfit employees he leads.

Tench appears in the third episode, entitled ‘Chris Gets Fired,’ in which his character, an escaped prisoner, unexpectedly reunites with his former flame (and OMT’s assistant manager), Cynthia, as he shops at the store.

You can watch the episode here on CBC Gem.

John Tench on the set of apocalyptic thriller, 40 Acres.
John Tench on the set of apocalyptic thriller, 40 Acres.

Tench will also appear in T. Thorne’s upcoming apocalyptic thriller,  40 Acres, which follows Hailey Freeman (Danielle Deadwyler) and her family – the last descendants of African American farmers who settled in rural Canada after the first Civil War – as they struggle to survive in a famine-decimated future and make their last stand against a band of cannibals intent on taking their home.

“I play the bad-ass leader of a group of hunters, with a distinct taste for cannibalism in a post-apocalyptic near future,” he said.

John Tench on the set of A Bluegrass Christmas
John Tench on the set of A Bluegrass Christmas

Tench plays ‘Billy Ribbons’ in the upcoming, Nashville-based musical rom-com, A Bluegrass Christmas, starring Canadian singer-songwriter Amanda Jordan. More details about that project will be announced soon.

John Tench with The Camp Host star Brooke Johnson.
John Tench with The Camp Host star Brooke Johnson.

In the recently released Tubi Original horror flick, The Camp Host, Tench plays the role of ‘Frank’, a wise storytelling widower whose wife recently passed from cancer and who is on a solo camping trip to rekindle some memories.

The thriller follows a young couple who find their road trip derailed when they spend the night in a campground overseen by a maniacal woman who brutally punishes campers who don’t follow her rules.

Tench appears in the film’s trailer here:

Finally, Tench will also appear in four episodes of Amazon Freevee’s upcoming comedy series The Pradeeps of Pittsburg. Inspired by the personal experiences of Emmy-nominated Vijal Patel (Black-ishThe Middle), the eight-episode series follows the Pradeep family and the humorous events of their first few months after moving to America from India.

“Greg Altoona is the local neigbourhood garbageman who befriends the Pradeeps on his rounds,” Tench said of his character on the show. “His heart of gold is hidden under a rough exterior.”


Matyas Dudas

Video Game Grad Matyas Dudas Lands Programming Job at People Can Fly Studio

Class of 2023 grad Matyas Dudas landed a job at People Can Fly Studio – a global video game development company known as one of the leading Unreal Engine studios in the industry – right after graduating from the Video Game Design & Development program last fall.

Since November, Dudas has been working full time as a game programmer at the studio, working on an “unannounced but reputable big IP”.

“Through hard work, dedication, and support from my teachers, I managed to land this AAA job right after school,” Dudas said of working at People Can Fly, whose titles include Bulletstorm: Full Clip, Gears of War: Judgment, Bulletstorm, Outriders and the award-winning Painkiller.

Dudas said that, ever since he was a child growing up in Hungary, he’s always wanted to work in video games – a lofty ambition he was able to turn into his reality thanks to his studies at Toronto Film School.

“Where I am from, it wasn’t a valid career to pursue; hence, I came to Canada to make my dreams come true,” he said.

“Attending TFS has been the most rewarding step in this journey. I learned so much about becoming an industry professional programmer – from writing simple programs, to graduating with a fully networked multiplayer TPS game in C++.

“It has been an incredible journey, and all my thanks go out to my dedicated teachers and peers.”

Learn more about Dudas and his work at https://www.matyasdudas.com/


Monika Monika

Acting Grad Monika Monika Lands Role on Bell Fibe Web Series ‘Realm 2’

Monika Monika recently landed a role on Bell Fibe’s Realm 2 a “dream come true” for the Class of 2021 Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre grad.

The web series follows the lives of various hopefuls, whose goals in life are similar, despite the fact that their paths have never crossed.

“Working on Realm 2 has been an incredible journey for me… It’s incredibly fulfilling to see our hard work and dedication being recognized on such a platform,” said Monika, who plays the character of Pooja – a fashionable Hindu Indian woman and landlord in her 30s, whose tenants include a fortune teller.

Monika Monika as Pooka in Realm 2

“Portraying the character of Pooja challenged me in ways I hadn’t anticipated, but it was immensely rewarding.”

Monika attributes her training at Toronto Film School for helping her land the role on Realm 2 – an achievement she characterised as a “significant milestone” in her career thus far.

“This accomplishment is a testament to the valuable education and training I received during my time at Toronto Film School,” she said.

“My training at TFS provided me with a strong foundation that helped me prepare for the role of Pooja. It also taught me valuable skills that I could apply on set, allowing me to bring depth to my character.”

Now that she’s graduated and making her own mark, Monika said there’s one piece of advice she’d like to share with TFS Acting students hoping to follow in her footsteps:

“Never stop learning and growing!” she said. “Embrace every opportunity to hone your craft and don’t be afraid to take risks.”


William Gauthier

Film Production Grad William Gauthier’s ‘Each Other’ Wins Big on Festival Circuit

Class of 2023 Film Production alumnus William Gauthier has enjoyed a very successful stint on the festival circuit with his very first short film, Each Other, over the last year.

Since its completion in June 2023, Each Other has been selected to 16 festivals in 8 countries around the world, garnering 12 nominations and bringing home two awards – including Best Drama Short Film at the Inside Film Festival in Ukraine, and Best First Time Filmmaker for Gauthier at the  Swedish International Film Festival.

“I couldn’t be prouder of us, our entire team, for what we achieved together with (Each Other). It may sound cliché, but filmmaking truly is a team sport,” said Gauthier, who wrote and directed the film during his time in the Film Production program and is now studying in the Bachelor of Creative Arts program at TFS affiliate, Yorkville University.

“Initially, Each Other was only meant to exist in the context of being my thesis film at TFS. Then, I took the decision, supported by my co-producers (and TFS classmates) Alyssa Duncan and Matt Dionne, to treat it as a professional short film in every way, from start to finish. It was a lot of work, especially working with ACTRA, but it paid off.”

The end result was an award-winning 12-minute film that follows a young man named Logan who, after realizing his younger brother Jesse’s 15th birthday has been spoiled by their father, takes it upon himself to sneak him out to a party to spend time with his boyfriend.

“Behind all these efforts, the bond and reciprocal love shared by the brothers proves to benefit Logan as much as it does Jesse and proves to be its own reward in an otherwise harsher time in both of their lives,” Gauthier said of the film, a piece of fiction that tackles topics he himself is familiar with as both a queer man and the eldest brother in his family.

William Gauthier at KINO in LA

Inspired by a similar feature film script Gauthier continues to work on, Each Other’s other festival nominations include: Best Director at Toronto Indie Shorts; Best Canadian Short Film at Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival; Best Ensemble Cast (for Jordan Kronis and Gage Graham-Arbuthnot) at Symbiotic Film Festival; Best Short Drama at Swedish International Film Festival; Best Short Drama finalist at Anatolia International Film Festival; finalist at the KINO Short Film Fest; and Best Drama, Best Director, Best Director Debut, and Best Color Editing (Ralph Pineda) at the Snow Leopard Film Festival.

Gauthier credits his time at both TFS and Yorkville University for helping him make long-lasting connections with classmates and instructors he’s confident he’ll continue to work with into the future.

“The best part about Toronto Film School is the immediate opportunity to meet the people who can become your collaborators for decades to come,” he said.

Each Other is a testament to what passionate professionals can achieve together before even graduating. With now just a few months left to my time at Yorkville University, I can’t wait to see what the future brings.”

Learn more about the film on Each Other’s Instagram or via the Pilgrimage Productions’ Instagram page.



Film Production Alum Olayinka Jinmi-Ahisu Wins 2024 The Verdict Marketing Case Competition

Class of 2021 Toronto Film School grad Olayinka Jinmi-Ahisu was recently part of a team that took home the first-place finish from The Verdict 2024 – including a cash prize of $10,000!

“Winning the competition felt unreal to me,” Ahisu said of The Verdict, an annual marketing case competition presented by IMDOINGIT, which offers Black youth in Canada the collaborative opportunity to tackle real-life business challenges for a chance to a cash prize.

“I’m naturally not a competitive person, and I had never actively participated in a competition before due to the fear of losing. So, when we emerged as the winners, it was an incredibly fulfilling and surprising moment for me and my teammates.”

Over the course of six-week competition, Ahisu and his fellow Verdict participants were tasked with working in teams to address business challenges and develop solutions with the guidance of mentors from IMDOINGIT’s mentorMatch program.

For Ahisu and his TOA teammates Toni Agbaje-Ojo and Ayanfe Ayeni, that meant presenting a show-stopping Movember case solution that would blow away the judges – and they succeeded.

“Our solution for the Movember case can be described in one word: Audacious! We focused on reaching our target audience, men aged 18-35, by engaging with them on the ground, in the sky, and across cities and campuses. Our approach involved meeting these men where they were, ensuring maximum reach and impact,” said Ahisu, who enjoyed every minute of the experience.

“If I’m being honest, the six-week competition didn’t feel like six weeks at all! It felt much shorter. The experience was intense, exhilarating, and challenging. We worked tirelessly, burning the midnight oil, juggling our jobs and the competition. But all our hard work paid off in the end.”

The Verdict judges agreed – awarding Ahisu and his teammates with the $10,000 prize – a portion of which the Film Production graduate intends to earmark towards a short film project he’s working on.

His biggest takeaway from the Verdict experience, Ahisu said, was the knowledge that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

“Throughout the competition, I held onto a powerful quote that resonated with me: ‘As a man thinketh in heart, so he is,’” he said.

“From the beginning, I shared with my teammates that I wanted to win, and I was ready to put in the work. It was tough, but we remained focused on the thought of winning, even when it seemed unlikely. The power of that mindset and determination cannot be underestimated.”

In addition to his Verdict victory, Ahisu also recently celebrated the completion of the first feature film he worked on as a Director of Photography – a dual-country production, with the first leg shot in Nigeria and the second leg shot in Canada. He’s also currently studying towards his Bachelor of Creative Arts at TFS affiliate, Yorkville University, has been collaborating with friends and colleagues on short film and spec commercial ideas, and is finalizing the script for his latest short film, which will mark his post-TFS directorial debut.

Follow him on Instagram at @theahudacity and/or learn more about his work at theahudacity.myportfolio.com.

Cynthia Reason

Cynthia Reason (she/her) is a former newspaper journalist turned communications professional who currently works as Toronto Film School’s Manager of Communications. Prior to joining TFS, she spent 13 years working as a reporter for Torstar/Metroland Media Toronto, writing for publications including Toronto.com, the Etobicoke Guardian, and the Toronto Star, among others. Her byline has also appeared in the National Post. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph and Post-Graduate Diploma in Journalism from Humber College.


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