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From Film Buff to Industry Pro: Career Paths to Becoming a Filmmaker, Actor or Screenwriter

Have you ever lost yourself in a TV series or movie, having become completely captivated by the story? At the same time, did you imagine yourself working in the industry? It just felt so right to you, a creative career—but you did not know where to start?  

Navigating the steps to a creative career can feel like a complex script. But it doesn’t have to be: let this blog act as your director’s guide as we showcase the journeys of three graduates who landed their dream jobs in acting, filmmaking, and screenwriting. See how they made it to a place that made them feel creatively and professionally fulfilled. 

  

Acting for Film, TV and the Theatre 

Graduate Profile: Orville Cummings

Working on Star Trek to this day seems like a dream.”

– Orville Cummings
Picture of Star Trek: Discovery cast on the bridge.
TFS Acting grad Orville Cummings plays Lieutenant Christopher on Star Trek: Discovery. Orville can be seen here with the rest of the bridge crew, standing behind Captain Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). Image courtesy of Paramount+.

 

Orville’s acting filmography: 

Air Crash Investigation 

Star Trek: Discovery 

Pretty Hard Cases 

Murdoch Mysteries 

Bite of a Mango 

Brother 

Doubles 

Web of Lies 

 

Diploma received: 

Acting for Film, TV and the Theatre (18 months)  

 

Whose hiring professional actors: 

Casting Directors and Talent Agents working for creative agencies and film and TV production companies look for and hire actors like Orville for their ongoing development of films, shows, commercials, corporate videos, digital media screen content, and more.

 

Orville’s story: 

Orville has quite an impressive biography of work as an actor. Today you can see him in his recurring role as Lieutenant Christopher in Star Trek: Discovery, or in his guest roles on Air Crash Investigation, Pretty Hard Cases, Murdoch Mysteries and more.   

“Very early in my career I was very intimidated by a real set,” Orville says, “But I wanted to get close to the experience so I can learn and be familiar with the flow and work that goes into making film and TV. Being an extra allowed me to do that. Taught me how actors hit their mark, and how directors work with actors.

“So, I would recommend new actors to sign up with a BG (background) agent and do a few shows and movies just to soak up the experience, so when it’s your turn you’ll be more ready to navigate, more ready to perform.”  

Another step Orville took was enrolling in Toronto Film School’s Acting for Film, TV and the Theatre Diploma Program, which taught him both screen and stage acting. He learned movement, voice, improvisation, producing, directing, screenwriting, auditioning, self-tape production, and much more.

Orville Cummings as bridge office Lieutenant Christopher In Star Trek: Discovery.
Lieutenant Christopher is the communications officer on the USS Discovery in the 32nd century. Image courtesy of Paramount+.

  

Orville also spent some time finding just the right agent. He met with many before settling on one that he felt truly respected and listened to him. Even though Orville is now an established actor, he will always have his diploma to fall back on, which qualifies him for different career paths should someday he choose to do something else. With his diploma, he can confidently apply for creative positions such as a screenwriter, filmmaker, casting director, talent agent, or acting instructor. 

  

Film Production 

Graduate Profile: Shreeharsha Rao 

Each time I look back, I feel proud of my decision to take up film studies at Toronto Film School. 

– Shreeharsha Rao
 
Image of Shreeharsha Rao, holding camera.
Today, Shreeharsha runs his own consulting firm specializing in film, advertising, visual effects, animation, and previz direction.

 

Shreeharsha’s filmography: 

Top Gun: Maverick 

The Predator 

The Mandalorian 

The Lion King  

Ad Astra  

Aquaman 

Godzilla vs. Kong 

X-Men: Dark Phoenix 

 

Diploma received: 

Film Production (18 months)  

 

Whose hiring film professionals: 

Across film, television, and streaming platforms like CBC, CTV, Corus Entertainment, Netflix, Crave, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, AppleTV+, and beyond, production companies actively seek industry professionals with Shreeharsha’s skillset to fuel their development pipelines.

 

Shreeharsha’s story: 

Shreeharsha is living the dream. He has worked on many high-profile film productions in a variety of roles, including as central production manager on the three-time Oscar winning film 1917, Top Gun: Maverick and The Lion King (to name a few). He has worked for production companies based in London, Tokyo, and India. 

Like Orville, success for Shreeharsha didn’t happen overnight. His training included enrolling in Toronto Film School’s Film Production Diploma Program, where he learned camera and set procedure, cinematography, audio, screenwriting, budgeting and scheduling, film contract and copyright, and so much more.

Shreeharsha told us, “The project management skill set that I use on my day-to day-work, which includes escalation, brainstorming, motivating a huge team, project planning, project execution, shooting, scripts, budgeting—all of these essential elements Toronto Film School taught me and helps me with my working life.”

Today, Shreeharsha runs his own consulting firm specializing in film, advertising, visual effects, animation, and previz direction.

Shreeharsha’s film production diploma has opened up a lot of career pathways for him should he someday decide to branch out. His diploma qualifies him to work as a film & television director, commercial director, cinematographer, producer, editor, production designer/art director, post-production supervisor, camera operator, assistant director, sound mixer, production manager, production coordinator, and more.

 

Writing for Film & TV

Graduate Profile: Caleigh Bacchus

The faculty runs its classes like actual writers’ rooms. That was really valuable.”

– Caleigh Bacchus
Caleigh Bacchus
Caleigh Bacchus is currently enjoying a successful career as a screenwriter at the CBC and working with a number of production companies in the Toronto area.

 

Caleigh’s filmography:

Murdoch Mysteries

Diggstown

Overlord and the Underwoods

Kinetic Kid

 

Diploma earned:

Writing for Film & TV (18 months)

 

Whose hiring screenwriters:  

Major production companies such as Shaftesbury, Circle Blue Entertainment, Project 10 Productions, and New Metric Media seek out skilled writers like Caleigh to craft captivating scripts that drive their stories forward.

 

Caleigh’s story

Caleigh calls working in the industry the best experience of her life. Originally having started out in marketing, Caleigh decided to make a career shift to copywriting. Today she has an impressive biography, with 10 writing credits on the CBC hit series Murdoch Mysteries, 20 episodes as a writer/story editor on Overlord and the Underwoods, and more.

“Toronto Film School has allowed me to become more confident in my writing and taught me to trust my creative instincts,” the class valedictorian tells us. “It was a really great collaborative experience. The faculty runs its classes like actual writers’ rooms. That was really valuable.”

The classes Caleigh are referring to are part of Toronto Film School’s Writing for Film & TV Diploma Program. Here she learned comedy, feature and drama writing as well as story editing, production, directing, marketing, finance, distribution and more. Although Caleigh is now working in her dream career, if she chose to do so, her Toronto Film School education would qualify her for such industry positions as producer, director, production executive, studio executive and more.

 

Final Thoughts on Your Career Path

If you’ve set your sights on a film career like Orville, Shreeharsha, and Caleigh have, then start researching schools that will not only help you develop your craft but also teach you the business of industry. This way you will graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to help you land that dream job so you can start making your mark.

You can read more on Toronto Film School’s diploma programs here.

Garry Murdock
Born in Montreal, Garry Murdock is the marketing copywriter for Toronto Film School. He got his start in television production at YTV, and then later worked as a promo producer and commercial director for a number of television networks. He was the supervising producer of Cineplex’s national in-theatre pre-show, providing creative direction and leadership on over 600 produced segments, and directed on-location interviews around the world with Hollywood celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Chris Evans, Kermit, Miss Piggy and many more. He has a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University and a certificate in Digital Marketing Management from the University of Toronto.

Garry Murdock

Born in Montreal, Garry Murdock is the marketing copywriter for Toronto Film School. He got his start in television production at YTV, and then later worked as a promo producer and commercial director for a number of television networks. He was the supervising producer of Cineplex’s national in-theatre pre-show, providing creative direction and leadership on over 600 produced segments, and directed on-location interviews around the world with Hollywood celebrities such as Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Ben Affleck, Chris Evans, Kermit, Miss Piggy and many more. He has a bachelor’s degree in Radio and Television Arts from Toronto Metropolitan University and a certificate in Digital Marketing Management from the University of Toronto.

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