Toronto Film School Takes On TIFF | Feature Films – Fixation & North of Normal


The red carpets have been rolled out. The world’s press have taken their places with mics on and ready for a good quote. Rows upon rows of photographers click-click-click, their camera flashes dazzling. The streets are filled to bursting with screaming fans.


TIFF has come again.


From Sept. 8 to 18, Toronto plays host to the global film community as the Toronto International Film Festival showcases the latest achievements in the art of cinema.


This year, Toronto Film School is celebrating those achievements in a big way, as several alumni and faculty have their projects premiering at the festival.


Each day this week, we’ll feature a different film and highlight the stories of the TFS community who helped bring it to the big screen.


Camille Lortie - Toronto Film School

Camille Lortie


For Camille Lortie, this will be her first time attending TIFF. And she is especially excited because she has not one, but two, films that she worked on premiering at the festival.


“It’s such a sense of accomplishment!” beamed the 2018 Film Production grad, who worked as a 2nd Assistant Director on Fixation and North of Normal. “What’s really exciting for me is that I’ll get to see these movies on the big screen and see my name in the credits.”


Alongside Lortie on Fixation were fellow TFS alumni Genevieve Guerin (the 2019 Film Production grad worked as a Production Coordinator) and Jessica Smith. Smith was working on a different film when she got a call from Lortie; Fixation had just lost their 3rd AD and Lortie needed someone she knew she worked well with and could trust to get the job done.


“This will be the first film I’ve worked on that’s premiering at TIFF, so that’s really exciting,” enthused Smith.


Jessica Smith - Toronto Film School

Jessica Smith


Fixation tells the story of Dora, played by Maddie Hasson, a young woman subjected to an unorthodox psychiatric evaluation, in advance of her murder trial for a crime she cannot remember. As the tests grow in intensity and rigour, Dora becomes increasingly fearful and distrustful of her enigmatic doctors.


Smith thinks this sounds like a compelling premise for a film, though she admitted that while working on set, she had no idea of the film’s story.


“I wasn’t given the script before going up there, so I would just read the sides every day and make up my own story about what was going on in the movie,” she mused. “It became a running joke that every day I’d have a new piece of the story and never knew what was actually happening.”


“So, I personally am really excited to see the movie, because I have no idea what it’s about even though I was up there shooting it,” laughed Smith.


Fixation premieres at TIFF

Behind the scenes, Fixation


On North of Normal, Lortie recalls one particularly memorable moment on set when the printer broke. Fortunately, she had a back-up printer, but it only worked on wi-fi and the shoot was in the “middle of the woods” with no reception except on a nearby beach.


“So I had to run to this picturesque beach and print a lot of documents for the cast and crew,” reflected Lortie. “It was a very stressful moment, but the most beautiful.”


North of Normal is a coming-of-age story about Cea, a girl who was raised in the wilds of Alberta and British Columbia on a commune with her teenage mother and hippie grandparents. After such an unconventional childhood, Cea moves to the city hoping for a normal life with her anything but normal mother.


Lortie plans to attend the TIFF premiere and is optimistic about how North of Normal will be received.


“Audiences will love the heart this film brings,” she said. “The whole cast and crew felt like family, and I think it will really reflect in the movie.”


North of Normal premieres at TIFF

North of Normal


Having a close-knit crew that trust one another is key to a successful film set, both Lortie and Smith agree. And for them, this was one thing of many that they learned during their time at TFS.


“A lot of people say that you don’t need film school,” Smith stated. “But, for me, I knew I didn’t know how to break in; I didn’t know people in the film industry. And I didn’t really know the world of the film industry, either, or where I wanted to go within it.”


Lortie echoed her thoughts:


“When I came to TFS, I knew absolutely nothing about making movies. I learned everything there, about all the parts of making a movie,” she reflected. “Then, after school, you go on set and you know what you’re doing.”


The networking is everything


“And the biggest thing is the people that I met there. I always hire them, or they hire me. The networking is everything.”


Since graduating, both Lortie and Smith have been amazed at the explosion of growth in the industry and the number of opportunities that have become available. Looking forward to the end of the year, both of them are fully booked with projects.


“Right now, getting into the industry is a lot easier,” Lortie stated, “because they’re really looking for so many people. Like, I’m getting four job offers for the same time frame, for the same position, and I have to say no to three of them.”


Though the future is bright for these young filmmakers, right now they said they’re most excited to go to TIFF, watch their movies and see their names as the credits roll.


For Fixation showtimes and tickets, click here.


For North of Normal showtimes and tickets, click here.