Toronto Film School Takes On TIFF | Feature Films – The Young Arsonists


The red carpets have been rolled out. The world’s press has taken their place, mics on, hoping for a 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 September 8-18, Toronto will play 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.


The Young Arsonists


“I think the gaffer is the painter of the frame.”


So reflected Romanesh Reynoso, a 2017 graduate of the Film Production program, who worked as a gaffer on The Young Arsonists, which is making its festival debut at TIFF.


“My work on set is to design the lighting,” he continued. “On The Young Arsonists specifically, it was really fun, because I was on this film right from the start. So in pre-production, my input was there.” 


The Young Arsonists, written and directed by Sheila Pye, takes place over a summer in the 1980s, with four teenage girls coming together in an old, abandoned farmhouse in a small, rural community. The group forms an intense and obsessive connection, bonding over their various individual traumas.


Described as a “visually arresting, intensely atmospheric” film, the lighting design was vital to fulfilling the director’s vision. Reynoso remembers his first interview for the job, with the Director of Photography, Michael LeBlanc.


“It was a very strange and fun interview,” he laughed. “Because the first question he asked me was if I knew how to set up an 18K light. And it’s a question where if you don’t know, you don’t know. Then he asked me, ‘Okay, how many amperes do you need to start that?’ And he didn’t even know the answer, it was just a test. But I did know.”


“So I got the job!”


Because of the collaborative nature of working on film, having a creative shorthand and building trust with people on set is of the utmost importance. And this is why, Reynoso said, when people find a good working relationship, they often work together multiple times.


“This was the first time I had worked with Michael, the DP, but we actually just finished our fourth project together now,” Reynoso reflected. “It’s been such a pleasure to work with him.”


Behind the Scenes on The Young Arsonists
Behind the Scenes on The Young Arsonists


Occasionally, there are times on a set where that developed trust becomes truly consequential. During filming of The Young Arsonists, Reynoso remembered one such moment.


“There was one day where a lightning storm was coming,” he described. “And, as you know, time is a huge factor on set; they’re paying for a lot of people during production. But one day we were shooting, everything was happening; stunts were happening, scenes were happening, but lightning was coming and then I just had to say, ‘I’m sorry, we have to stop. Safety is first.’”


“It was very complicated,” Reynoso continued, “but that was the right call I had to make.”


If it were a few years ago, he wouldn’t have had the confidence to make that call. It’s something that comes with experience, he said.


Since his time at TFS, Reynoso has been steadily employed, with an impressive seven projects he worked on coming out in 2022 alone. He said he still works with old classmates and instructors he had while studying Film Production.


Romanesh Reynoso
Romanesh Reynoso


And while he wishes he would be able to attend the TIFF premiere of The Young Arsonists, he’ll have to miss it because he’ll be on set. ‘Make hay while the sun shines’, as the saying goes.


But another saying goes, ‘You never forget your first time’. And when it comes to TIFF, Reynoso absolutely agrees. He made his TIFF debut with the film Queen of the Morning Calm, in 2019 – just two years after he graduated from TFS.


“Oh, it was amazing. Amazing!” he exclaimed. “At that time, it was exciting. I was there at the premiere; to see your work and your name at TIFF, you can’t believe it’s actually happening. I was thinking it would take a lot of years, but it didn’t. So, I was very excited!”


For The Young Arsonists showtimes, click here.


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