Meet Joseph D’Amario | 2023 Valedictorian of the Video Production Program

Joseph D'Amario

For GTA-based filmmaker Joseph D’Amario, the experience of studying at Toronto Film School Online was an incredible learning journey.

“I can’t believe how much I’ve grown and learned over these past two years, which have flown by so quickly,” said D’Amario, who was recently named valedictorian of the Video Production program’s Class of 2023.

“I am so grateful for the amazing instructors who have not only taught me so much, but have mentored and inspired me, and have really genuinely cared. Their help, guidance and encouragement have given me the tools and confidence to step out into the industry equipped to succeed.”

Currently studying toward his Bachelor of Creative Arts degree at TFS affiliate, Yorkville University, D’Amario said filmmaking has been his passion from childhood, and he’s enjoying the opportunity to continue honing his skills as a writer/director, producer, cinematographer and editor.

Joseph D'Amario on set
D’Amario (far right) is pictured here on the set of his capstone film, Blindsided

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D’Amario recently sat down to reflect on his time at Toronto Film School and his plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say:

What brought you to Toronto Film School? Where were you in life when you decided to continue your studies with us? 

I came to Toronto Film School right out of high school, so I was pretty young when I started looking into film studies programs. What set TFS apart was that it was very hands-on; you pick up a camera and you start shooting, which is exactly what I wanted. The program is designed to get you to constantly make content. Another big thing is the faculty, who are all working professionals in the industry, which means the education you are getting is very current and practical, not just theoretical, as well as meaning they are amazing connections and the start of your professional network. They are also genuinely caring people who want to help their students succeed.

What made you decide to pursue your passion for filmmaking? 

I always knew that I wanted to make movies, but I wasn’t always sure in what capacity and how feasible that could really be. Turns out, here in Canada it isn’t impossible to have a career in film and I guess I figured I had to at least try. I’ve always been passionate about storytelling and filmmaking, so if it was possible to do that every day professionally, why not, right?

What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at TFS?

The production experience I’ve gained from the many projects I’ve made during my time at TFS is really invaluable. Working collaboratively with cast, crew, and people in general, is something that takes practice, and I’m really thankful for and have enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to do that, especially now that I’m going out into the industry. Also, the network I’ve formed here with my instructors and peers definitely makes me more confident, knowing that I have so many people to ask questions of and reach out to.

Joseph D'Amario

What are your plans after graduation both immediate and long term?

I’m really grateful to have been able to find a lot of work in the industry already. Even during my studies, I was able to work as a camera operator and production assistant on three live TV broadcasts and two documentaries. I’m currently working full time as the primary editor and second camera operator for a Hamilton-based production company. My dad, Ercole, and my brother, Andrew, and I just started our own production company, Alta Via Enterprises, and while I continue to work freelance, we are very excited about writing/directing and making our own films in the near future.

If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?

What you put into the program is what you are going to get out of it. It’s a great program that covers a ton of topics and disciplines and they somehow teach all of that in two years. Before I applied, I attended an open house, and I remember asking the program director, Steven Hoffner, if this program would cover everything I would need to know to make a blockbuster. He said something like, it would take a lot longer than two years to teach all that, but if I asked the right questions and put that much more into the assignments and lectures, I would get out of the program what I put into it. And I did; I made short films out of every assignment, even the simple ones, and now I have a portfolio of eleven short films to showcase coming out of school.

What’s your favorite film/TV show and why?

The Star Wars and Marvel films have always been my favourite movies. If I had to pick one, it would be The Avengers. That movie started the whole idea of bringing together all the previous movies and having an interconnected storyline. It’s action packed, it’s funny, it has heart, and in the end it’s about a group of very different charterers learning to work together for a greater good, in their case, saving the world. It has a way of uplifting you when you see it; that’s the kind of movie I want to make.

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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