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Online Students Lend Graphic Design Talents to Creation of Play Posters for TFS Acting Students

For the first time, Toronto Film School’s Online Graphic Design & Interactive Media and on-campus Acting for Film, TV & the Theatre programs have teamed up on a cross-country collaboration.


Online Graphic Design students Brit Boyd and Rachel Stefan from British Columbia, and Samantha Diluciano of Toronto were recently selected to design the promotional play posters and programmes for their Acting classmates’ December stage productions here in Toronto.


“The collaboration this semester between the Acting and Graphic Design programs is proof that our profession is becoming less reliant on proximity,” said Pheinixx, Director of Toronto Film School’s 12-month Graphic Design & Interactive Media Diploma program.


“Students from throughout Canada designed the artwork and materials that are now being printed locally. Technology is allowing us as graphic designers to work anywhere, and our online design students are experiencing this before they even graduate. I love the idea that they will be leading the way.”



For Rachel Stefan, 29, who lives Vancouver, BC, the experience of designing the poster for Lion in the Streets was one that actually helped her feel connected to her on-campus peers.


“It was nice to be more actively involved through this project. It’s exciting and I’m really proud of myself for being part of it,” said Stefan, who just launched a new freelance agency – The Winking Dog Design Company – with a neighbourhood friend this past summer.


“Honoured and excited” to be called upon by Pheinixx to participate in the project, Stefans said she initially had some difficulty narrowing down a single poster theme for such a dark and complex play as Lion in the Street.



A two-act play by award-winning Canadian playwright Judith Thompson, Lion tells the story of the ghost of a nine-year-old Portuguese girl who is searching for her killer.


“It’s very interesting and has a really wide range of themes going on, so it was a little challenging to try to pick apart which aspect of those themes I wanted to represent in the final poster,” Stefan said of the “tricky” creative process she followed to get to her ultimate design.


“I’ve kind of always been a fan of thrillers and stuff, so I ended up going along with the murder theme, which ultimately lead me to my final poster piece – which was a stained glass window with blood dripping down it.”



For Boyd, a mother of two who owns and runs Enchanted Toys & Games in the small coastal town of Gibsons, B.C., taking on the poster for Toronto Film School’s production of David French’s The Mercer Family was one that brought her back to her familial roots.


“The play is about a family going back through their history to inform their present in Newfoundland – and my family on dad’s side are all Newfies, so it definitely kind of resonated with me,” said Boyd, who, like Stefan, said working on the project helped her build closer ties to the school.



When it came to designing The Mercer Family poster, Boyd said her only guidance from the director was that the design should include both the name of the play, as well as the faces of its three main characters.


“I decided to have the actors’ faces broken down in illustrator and to go for a watercolour feel…with a ribbon of blue that kind of entwines them all,” she said, noting that ribbon signifies the family roots tying them all together.


“I went for something more painterly because looking back through old family photos of mine, once you hit the point where there were no cameras, everything was paintings, anyway. So I tried to bring in that kind of nostalgia, while also having a modern feel to it because it’s a current play, so that informed the colour palette.”



Born and raised in Toronto, Diluciano said she found the task of creating a unique poster for Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men – which was originally a Broadway play before becoming a hit Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruise – a “super exciting” endeavour.


“It was funny, because I had seen blog posts on the TFS portal about plays and students designing the posters, and had always been curious how to get in on that. So, when Pheinixx reached out to me, I was really excited,” said Diluciano, who currently juggles her GDIM studies with a full-time job as an office manager/sales support/in-house graphic designer for Hesty Reps.


“I’d obviously seen the big Hollywood film, but I didn’t know A Few Good Men started out as a play, which was pretty cool to learn.”



Going into her design process, Diluciano said her primary goal was to create a poster unlike anything she’d ever seen associated with the movie version of the play.


“I just wanted to do something really different, because it was such a big Hollywood picture,” she said.


“The process was pretty seamless. I came up with an idea, I executed it, and I sent it in to be shared with the directors – who were in love with it pretty much right away, aside from a few little revisions… So, everything was really smooth and it was also really fun. I was really happy to be one of the few selected.”


All three Toronto Film School plays are being staged this week at the Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College St.


Lion in the Streets, directed by Christopher Sawchyn

– Thursday, Dec. 19 at 9 p.m.

– Friday, Dec. 20 at 6 p.m.

– Saturday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m.


The Mercer Family, directed by Andrew Moodie

–  Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 6 p.m.

– Friday, Dec. 20 at 9 p.m.

– Saturday, Dec. 21 at 3 p.m.


A Few Good Men, directed by Jack Grinhaus

– Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 9 p.m.

– Thursday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.

– Saturday, Dec. 21 at 9 p.m.


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