Terryl Benoit is the 2016 Valedictorian of the Film Production Diploma program at Toronto Film School. Terryl came to TFS all the way from the twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, where he has lived most of his life on the island of Tobago in a small village called Plymouth. He came to the school to immerse himself if the filmmaking process, and now that he has graduated, Terryl plans to return to his home country and start a production company. Read more about Terryl and his TFS journey in this Q&A.
TFS: What brought you to Toronto Film School?
TB: The passion for telling unique stories and creating content at a professional level. At my previous school, I remember creating an amateur comedic sketch video for a concert that a group of us organized. I was responsible for the video content and during that time, I really enjoyed the entire process of developing the idea, writing the script and mostly the audience’s reaction to the work we put out. It made me realize that I wanted to do this kind of thing for the rest of my life.
TFS: Why did you choose your program?
TB: I was really interested in learning the correct way to make a film. At that time, DSLR camera’s were becoming very popular and all I really wanted to learn was the secret to achieving the “film look” with DSLR cameras. I visited the Toronto Film School two years prior to enrolling and the Film Production program offered courses that touched on things I was very interested in at the time.
TFS: Why do you think you were chosen as a Valedictorian?
TB: I honestly can’t say, I just tried to learn as much as I could and immerse myself in the process of filmmaking. I would say that maybe it’s because of my age and experience in the television business and the way I handled any task at hand. I’ve tried to always have a focused and positive spirit when working and made it a priority to have the utmost respect for my colleagues both in the classroom and on set. I remember being told early in my career that your attitude determines your success in this business and also in life, the same thing was said to us at the beginning of our TFS journey and it’s something that I’ll always carry with me.
TFS: If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
TB: It’s impossible for me to recommend just one thing especially when it comes to getting the most out of TFS. However, I would tell that incoming student, however, to prepare yourself mentally and physically to go the extra mile, take the work seriously both in the classroom and on set, because believe it or not, your reputation travels and the film industry is smaller than you think in that aspect. The instructors at TFS are always willing to help so don’t be afraid to ask questions, and most importantly LEAVE YOUR EGO at the door.
TFS: What is one of the most important things you have learned/experienced at TFS?
TB: The most important thing that I learned at TFS is that you cannot do it alone. It is impossible to create a film without a great team to support your creative vision, you can have to best idea in the world for a film concept but if you don’t have a great team dedicated to helping you work on the various aspects of the film it will all be for naught.
TFS: What kept you motivated?
TB: The creative ideas and stories that are swirling inside my head, and my desire to get started on them and sharing them with the world. My country is small in size but I honestly believe that our culture and stories can rival that of any first world country. I really look forward to bringing some of those stories to life.
TFS: What are your plans after graduation?
TB: I plan to move back to Trinidad and Tobago and begin writing and creating short films, at the same time I plan to establish my production company and a few other business ventures.
TFS: What makes Toronto Film School and your experience here special?
TB: The personal friendships and work relationships that I’ve built not only with my film production colleagues but with my fellow students in the Acting, Video Game Design and Writing programs. I love the fact that the school is set up in a way that encourages us to do serious networking, which really made me appreciate the concept of teamwork and the filmmaking process.
TFS: If someone asked you to describe Toronto Film School to them, what would you say?
TB: I would say that TFS is an institution that allows you to recognize your true potential as long as you’re willing to let it do so. That’s what TFS did for me and I’m truly grateful for that life changing experience.