Teriann Khargie is the 2016 valedictorian for Toronto Film School’s Video Game Design and Animation Diploma program. Originally from Scarborough, Ontario, Teriann was a leader in her program and on the Steeles Campus of Toronto Film School. In her time at Toronto Film School, she met every challenge head on and constantly pushed herself and others to raise their standards and go above and beyond the call of duty. Read more about Teriann and her reflections about Toronto Film School and her program in the Q&A.
TFS: What brought you to Toronto Film School?
TK: I tried a lot of hats before I decided to pursue a creative field again. From there what brought me in was some combination of a social media ad, my advisor’s pitch, and creeping on an intimidatingly impressive digital drawing lesson during a tour of the Steeles Campus and the Toronto Film School’s Video Game Design and Animation Diploma program.
TFS: Why did you choose Toronto Film School’s Video Game Design and Animation Diploma?
TK: The tour brought me in, but what kept me here were the amazing opportunities to learn from industry professionals and my peers. After first term we can choose the Toronto Film School’s Video Game Design and Animation Diploma program, and I chose animation thanks to their support.
TFS: Why do you think you were chosen as the Valedictorian for your program?
TK: I’d like to think it was my reputation for being the boss lady with bad puns, but I’d say it’s more likely I was chosen for how much I’ve cared for everything I took on while I was at Toronto Film School.
I constantly pushed myself and others to raise their standards and go above and beyond the call of duty. I chaired our VGD Campus Council where I ran multiple events, including a week-long charity for Extra Life with all proceeds going to Toronto SickKids. I was the project lead and Creative Director on our final term project “Bathrobe Samurai”, which was a successful collaboration between all three campuses and continues to be pursued for publication today. All this, while also supporting the local community and alumni, eventually led to my being chosen as a “Women in Games” Ambassador at this year’s Game Developers Conference by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) foundation.
TFS: If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
TK: Respect your space. That means to be aware enough not to waste your time here. You aren’t entitled to anything, you have to work hard. Don’t ignore your teachers or peers trying to help you. Don’t take for granted the opportunities that you’re given when they arise. It also means know your limits: Recognize opportunity, but know when to say yes or no.
Respect exactly where you are when you’re there, and strive to always be aware and present in it.
TFS: What is one of the most important things you have learned/experienced at TFS?
TK: Other than the aforementioned advice, I would say learning to be a professional. Under that banner, I learned a lot about what it means to be a part of a team eventually lead one, and as conflicts arose I pushed through my own discomfort to resolve them. As it turns out being uncomfortable enough to be complacent is one of the worst disservices you can do to figuring out who you want to be, professionally.
TFS: What kept you motivated?
TK: The upside to an 18-month program is it’s a gauntlet: If you want to succeed, you keep moving forward. You don’t have time to be demotivated because you lose sight of milestones, and then the team loses valuable production time, and then someone’s hard work doesn’t make the cut, etc. If I was run down I would step back, see what still needed to be done, then do it or get someone else to. If I managed to find time to feel sorry for myself I’d quickly seek out a pep talk or push through it.
TFS: What are your plans after graduation?
TK: Figuring out my career path one project at a time. I’ve taken on a few projects following graduation to continue building my portfolio and work experience, which also allows me to pursue publishing Bathrobe Samurai with our core team, Cat Splat Studios, simultaneously. Taking the time to do contract work also helped me figure out that I want to focus on production over trying to found my own studio, since I’d miss production work too much.
TFS: What makes Toronto Film School and your experience here special?
TK: The people. What made Toronto Film School special were the connections I made and what I’ve learned about other skills like leadership, working in a studio and production. A teacher singled me out as a leader early on and I ended up pursuing it despite my reservations. I took that encouragement to heart and eventually became the art director on multiple games before leading a full production team for my final project, an experience I might not have had otherwise.
TFS: If someone asked you to describe Toronto Film School to them, what would you say?
TK: I’d call Toronto Film School a space that will quickly teach you the difference between who you thought you wanted to be and who you’ll actually strive to become. Practical, hands-on experiences allow it to be entirely different for everyone, which is both a pretty unique draw and an invaluable opportunity.