From daydreaming of one day becoming a showrunner while working as a bartender, to shooting her own short film and developing a one-hour drama pilot – Megan St-Pierre’s burgeoning career as a screenwriter grew leaps and bounds over the course of her 18 months at Toronto Film School.
As the Class of 2022’s valedictorian for the Writing for Film & Television program, St-Pierre recognized the networking opportunities afforded to her at TFS as one the biggest takeaways of her time at film school.
“There’s no part of the filmmaking process that is truly solitary, and so being able to make those connections has helped me more than anything,” she said.
Since completing her studies, St-Pierre has continued to foster the relationships she forged at TFS with faculty and classmates, alike – be it continuing to work as a script reader at Raven Banner Entertainment, whose managing partner is TFS instructor Michael Paszt, or developing a one-hour drama pilot alongside fellow TFS alumnus, producer Jigar Thakkar.
“Being able to hear the insights and experience of our instructors and the alumni was not only helpful in terms of writing, but motivational as well,” she said.
“The Writing for Film & Television program showed me that my dream job is truly within my reach.”
St-Pierre recently sat down to reflect on her time at Toronto Film School, her passion for screenwriting, and her plans for the future. Here’s what she had to say:
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m 29 years old, I grew up mostly in Oshawa, Ontario but came to Toronto in 2014 to complete my undergraduate degree in theatre at York University’s bilingual campus, Collège Glendon.
I’ve also been lucky enough to live all over the country, from the Ottawa Valley, to Northern Ontario, Halifax, Vancouver, and even briefly in France.
I’m passionate about theatre, history, sports, the environment, but most of all: television.
What brought you to Toronto Film School? Where were you in life when you decided to continue your studies with us?
I had been working some dead-end jobs that I was never particularly passionate about, and I knew I needed to make a big change in my life.
I knew I wasn’t interested in another four-year degree, and I knew that I wanted to complete whichever program I chose and get straight to work.
When I found Toronto Film School, it seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, so I jumped right in.
What made you decide to pursue your passion for screenwriting?
I truly can’t picture myself doing any other type of work. I’ve tried other jobs, and they’ve all taught me many important things, chiefly: that I’d make a better writer than a bartender/retail person/tour guide/tutor/assistant/etc.
Eventually, there was an incident in a walk-in fridge that left me soaked in cider from an ill-advised attempt at changing a keg before a full bartending shift. That was the exact moment I decided I needed to change career paths.
I wrote up a sitcom pilot based on my time at theatre school and submitted it to the CBC. While submitting, I saw a banner ad for Toronto Film School and clicked on it out of curiosity. On a whim, I booked a tour of the school and ultimately decided to apply. I told myself that whoever got back to me first (or at all) would be the path I would take. Luckily, I found out that I was accepted to TFS the day after I completed my application.
What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at TFS?
I’d say the relationships with my classmates and the chance to meet more experienced screenwriters are the most important takeaways from the program. There’s no part of the filmmaking process that is truly solitary, and so being able to make those connections has helped me more than anything.
Also being able to hear the insights and experience of our instructors and the alumni has not only been helpful in terms of writing, but motivational as well. The Writing for Film & Television program showed me that my dream job is truly within my reach.
What are your plans after graduation both immediate and long term?
I’m currently developing a one-hour drama pilot with a fellow TFS alumnus, producer Jigar Thakkar, and seeking representation. My goal is to be a staff writer on a television series, ideally a period piece.
My long-term goal is to be a showrunner on a series of my own creation. But as for now, I would be thrilled to land any job in a writer’s a room and get the chance to learn, while being a part of a professional writing team.
A short film I co-wrote while at TFS, Not Your Jasmine, just recently premiered and my own short film, Love Potion, will be finalizing its post-production shortly.
If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
“Something is better than nothing. Done is better than perfect.” Just get words on paper and don’t worry about whether people will think it’s bad when it’s your turn to share it.
Always share your work! Even if you think it sucks, it probably doesn’t suck as much as you think it does. And if isn’t great, that’s fine, that’s more reason to share it and get some fresh eyes on it. If you stay open to criticism, other people will almost always make your writing better.