Toronto Film School has named one of Canada’s most celebrated television producers as its incoming president, ushering in a new era of industry connectivity and student opportunity at the school.
“I’ve built a career on being ambitious, on working very hard, on thinking big – and when I think about the future of Toronto Film School, I bring that same approach and vision,” said Barnsley, a 20-year veteran of the industry who has served as Toronto Film School’s Executive Producer in Residence since 2017.
“From what I’ve seen at Toronto Film School, we are poised for greatness. We are poised for global greatness. We are poised to do very big things – and not just in Toronto, but around the world. And I’m taking that very seriously. That is my vision.”
In addition to his new role as president of Toronto Film School, Barnsley will also continue to serve as the CEO and executive producer of Project 10 Productions – a Toronto- and Los Angeles-based production company, where he leads an award-winning team producing projects (including CTV’s JANN) for Canadian networks and global streaming partners.
Barnsley views his dual roles as beneficial to both organizations, enabling him “to bring industry to the school, and the school to industry.”
“What makes Toronto Film School so great is that the instructors in our classrooms are also industry professionals. And, as the new president of Toronto Film School, we are embracing that,” he said of his decision to balance both roles.
“This will ensure that the information I’m sharing with students is current, and that my perspective on how the industry works and what the demands and needs are for the industry is fresh.”
Barnsley said one of his first orders of business as Toronto Film School’s new president is to elevate the school’s purpose, helping students graduate with the knowledge, connections and resiliency to thrive in the Canadian film and television industry.
A big believer in post-secondary education, he said he sees Toronto Film School as a key feeder of talented, industry-ready creators who are prepared to contribute to Canada’s booming film and television industry, which annually contributes $9 billion and 179,000 full-time jobs to the country’s economy.
“Education has been something that’s always been important to me…I believe it gives students the foundation for success when they are looking at building careers in industries like ours,” said Barnsley, who, in addition to winning both an Emmy and a Golden Globe in 2020, is also an eight-time Canadian Screen Award nominee/winner for his work on Schitt’s Creek, JANN and Spun Out.
“When I think about Toronto Film School, the graduates that are coming out of our school and the trajectory that our alumni are on, I see a world very soon where you walk onto any set in Canada and there will be Toronto Film School graduates working there and leaving their mark.”
In fact, Barnsley’s own Project 10 Productions currently counts several Toronto Film School alumni among its key employees and collaborators – namely Class of 2015 Film Production graduate Shelby Bronstine and 2018 Writing for Film & Television valedictorian Caleigh Bacchus.
“During my time at Toronto Film School, we’ve recognized talent and we’ve been able to work with graduates, students and alumni to find opportunities for them in the industry,” Barnsley said.
“We’ve found creative voices that we’ve helped support and connect with agents, who have then gone on to be hired in writing rooms. We’ve also found support staff to help our productions and in our offices. The talent coming out of Toronto Film School is second to none. These students and these graduates are set ready and industry ready.”
Bronstine, whom Barnsley hailed as the company’s ‘rising star,’ was first hired by Project 10 in May 2019 as its Development and Office Coordinator and was promoted just a year later to serve in her current role as the company’s Manager of Business Affairs and Operations.
“Caleigh is building a foundation for an exceptional career in television,” he told Playback for a recent ‘10 to Watch’ spotlight article the online magazine wrote about Bacchus. “I have no doubt that she will be running and creating shows in the coming years. She is definitely a talent to watch.”
With the film and television industry currently booming in Toronto, even despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnsley said he’s excited to be stepping into a new role at Toronto Film School that will allow him to mentor even more students like Bronstine and Bacchus to success in the industry he loves.
“Nothing energizes me more than walking into a Toronto Film School classroom. When I can be in the same room as these passionate, energized, driven young voices, it gets me excited about the future of this industry. It sparks a fire in me…to make sure that our students and our graduates have every opportunity available to ensure that they leave their mark,” he said.
“Toronto Film School is a feeder of talented, industry-ready people who are ready to contribute to this incredible industry that is growing and booming.”
Barnsley will officially take over the helm as Toronto Film School’s new president upon Dr. Rick Davey’s retirement from the role on July 1 – a transition Davey himself has forecasted will be a transformative one.
“For our faculty, students and community, this news signals an exciting transformation. Andrew will strengthen important connections to industry, government and other educational institutions,” he said.
Likewise glowing in his appraisal of his predecessor, Barnsley said he’s looking forward to stepping into Davey’s shoes and furthering the vision he originally set out for the school.
“When I look back on my four years here at Toronto Film School, I wouldn’t be where I’m sitting right now, I wouldn’t be excited about the changes we’re going through, if it wasn’t for the support and vision of Dr. Rick Davey,” he said.
“He’s pointed me in the right direction, as he has pointed Toronto Film School in the right direction. We are poised for greatness in an institution that’s already great and I’m very excited about the future. I owe so much, as does the entire community here, to Dr. Rick Davey.”