When Toronto Film School Met The Umbrella Academy
“This…is The Sparrow Academy.” – Sir Reginald Hargreeves
“This … is The Sparrow Academy,” declared Sir Reginald Hargreeves, to his shocked and confused children.
So begins the third season of The Umbrella Academy, which tells the story of the Hargreeves, a family of adopted super-powered former child heroes who have drifted apart in adulthood, but must reunite to save the world from impending doom.
In the Season 3 premiere, available now to stream on Netflix, the siblings find themselves in an alternate timeline of the universe wherein their father hadn’t created The Umbrella Academy, but instead had adopted seven other super-powered children and named them The Sparrow Academy.
But while this meeting of academies resulted in an epic battle for dominance, the confluence of The Umbrella Academy and Toronto Film School was anything but a rivalry.
“I loved it, it was so cool!” gushed Garima Sood, who worked as a Camera Trainee on the series. “Umbrella’s a great show to be a part of. It’s a really big show; tons of VFX, cast was amazing, crew was amazing.”
Sood, a Class of 2018 Acting for Film TV & Theatre grad, was one of three TFS alumni who contributed to Season 3 of The Umbrella Academy. Working alongside her were Class of 2017 Film Production graduate Nicholas Koscik and 2018 Acting for Film TV & Theatre grad Jacintha Braithwaite.
“Tonight’s all I ever wanted; everyone coming together when it really matters. One big family.” – Luther Hargreeves
Braithwaite was cast in the role of Victoria, mother to one of the seven superheroes. She echoed Sood’s enthusiasm, calling her experience on the series “an absolute blast.”
“I was fortunate enough to land the role of Allison’s mom,” she reflected. “She is a young schoolteacher from South Africa, who ended up giving her child for adoption to billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves.”
For Koscik, who worked Sound Utility on set, his days were filled with a variety of tasks, from wiring the acting talent, dealing with departmental requests, managing communications with other departments, and operating the boom mics. He confessed it was a lot of work, but also something he’d been dreaming of for years.
“I’d been a fan of the show since the first season, so it’s a particular treat to be on season three.”
Another aspect of his work that Koscik loved was how much interaction he got to have with the actors, all of whom he said were friendly and approachable.
“Justin Min, who plays Ben, he was awesome. One day he was placing a coffee order for the cast and was like, ‘Hey man, do you want something?’ and I was like, ‘Dude, you’re an actor, you don’t have to get me a coffee!’ But he was insisting, and so since that day we just built a strong connection.”
“Things are still real. They’re just moving by so fast, you get dizzy with the changes. It’s like figure skaters … you gotta pick a focus point. Something to hold on to, no matter what changes around you.” – Lila Pitts
Sood reflected that she’s always had a passion for performing, which is why she joined the acting program at TFS. But after graduation, while she was acting in “indie stuff”, she found herself intrigued by the camera and the slate, and between takes would help out behind the scenes.
Often, in smaller budget film projects people on set take on tasks that would fall outside their typical responsibilities. For Sood, what started out as a curiosity has transitioned into her full-time career.
“It surprised me how much I really enjoy being a part of camera,” she said. “And one of the biggest things I like about the camera department is just how fast-paced it is and the different technologies; like the lenses, the cameras, the cranes, the gimbles, the drones. All those types of toys, they keep my interest.”
“And here I am now, working on amazing shows like The Umbrella Academy with amazing people!”
Koscik was so excited to watch the new season, he binge-watched it as soon as it came out. He felt like it was a surreal experience watching it, knowing how much action was happening behind the scenes that the viewers don’t see.
“It’s just fun seeing how everything turns out on screen versus how it’s produced, and people wouldn’t expect it,” he recalled. “There’s so much work that goes into it, so many people are behind the scenes working at any given moment.”
“Every now and then I’m watching the frame and knowing that just out of frame I was standing in that corner, holding a boom mic, in front of that actor.”
For Braithwaite, the scale of production made an impact.
“It was the largest production that I had been involved in at the time,” she mused. “Going in for my fittings and getting to do a photoshoot was awesome. When I first arrived on set, it was so surreal to see so many trucks, vans, crew and equipment.”
“Long story short, I’m immortal now.” – Klaus Hargreeves
Though perhaps not as dramatic as the adventure of the sensational seven heroes of The Umbrella Academy – who must find their paths amidst the unknown of a new timeline in the multiverse – our graduates have had a whole new world opened before them and must now find their place in the industry.
Sood believes that the key to success is being open to new horizons.
“If there’s one piece of advice I could give to new students, it’s that the course that they start with, or that you think is for you, just be open-minded to where it leads you to,” she reflected. “Especially us as artists and creative people, we can do multiple things at once. We have many different talents and can mold into different categories. That’s what happened to me!
“Just be open to where the experience leads you and it could be a lot better than you expected.”