We asked 100 Toronto Film School grads: What’s a super cool job to land right out of school?
And the survey says…Family Feud Canada.
“I’m still in this state where I can’t believe this is my life,” Barsky said of her new gig on the Gerry Dee-hosted show, noting that her ultimate goal is to get a job in a sitcom writing room.
“I think it’s important that I know exactly what I want to do in the industry and that I’m working toward that goal, but the fact that I’m doing this right now is just insane. It’s crazy. I didn’t think this would ever happen.”
Born in Israel and raised in Hamilton, Barsky said she first fell in love with sitcoms while watching Ray Romano’s Everybody Loves Raymond on a hand-me-down box television her family rummaged up shortly after moving to Canada in 2000.
“I remember that so vividly. I didn’t speak any English, so I didn’t understand what was going on, but people were laughing, so I started laughing,” she recalled.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t until three or four years ago that Barsky discovered sitcom writing was not only her passion, but also a viable career path. While traveling internationally, she met several people who worked in the industry, who inspired her to follow in their footsteps.
“Right away I started Googling schools in Toronto and TFS was the first one to pop up. It was the only school I applied to – and I got in,” she said, calling her Toronto Film School experience a most rewarding one.
“Not all of the classes were writing oriented, but I understood the importance of them because they helped shape my writing, too. Learning about the financial and production sides of the industry made me more realistic with my writing.”
Barsky said she also walked away from her time at Toronto Film School a much more confident and assured writer.
“Prior to going to school, I was a really shy person who didn’t really speak up. And although I learned a lot in school about writing and formatting and things like that, another big thing I got out of my time at TFS was the confidence to talk to people and to reach out to people,” she said.
“I think something that’s gotten me really far in my few months since graduating is reaching out to people in the industry and asking to talk to them and pick their brain, essentially. It’s really helped me network and I don’t I would have been able to do that if I didn’t go to Toronto Film School.”
It was in applying that industrious attitude to her job search after graduation, in fact, that Barsky credits with helping her land her Question Producer gig at Family Feud Canada.
After finishing up her studies in late March, she immediately began applying for any and all industry-related jobs she could find.
“Basically, my strategy was to apply to a bunch of jobs. I applied to so many jobs, I don’t even know what I applied to now,” she laughed, noting that she came across the Family Feud job ad on Facebook and “instantly applied” for it.
“I later learned that my being so proactive is ultimately what helped me get the job, because they only had the ad up for about an hour before they took it down because they had so many applicants. So, if it wasn’t for me being so hungry for a job, I probably wouldn’t have seen it.”
As one of five Question Producers on Family Feud Canada, it’s Barsky’s job to write questions that are designed to both elicit some laughs and reveal something about the contestant families on the show.
“Every week I have a quota to meet, so hypothetically, I have to write 100 questions…but I’m actually writing about 200-300 questions a week, because I have to cross-reference every one of them to make sure it hasn’t been used in previous seasons,” she explained.
“I never stop writing…Even on weekends, I write stuff down so I have something to work with when Monday comes.”
While the third season premiere date of Family Feud Canada has yet to be announced, Barsky said she’s nevertheless anxiously awaiting the day she’ll get to hear the questions she’s written recited on television.
“Me and my friends are going to have a virtual screening of the first episode, because I want to see my name in the credits. I think that will be so exciting,” she said.
“This is more than a stepping-stone for me. I can’t believe this is happening right now. So, I will stay here (at Family Feud Canada) forever – or until they let me go or I get onto a sitcom.”