All Posts Tagged With: "Vancouver Film School"
Pianist from The Zolas explains how he built his business
When Tom Dobrzanski started Vancouver’s Vertical Studios with a friend in 2001, he considered it a part-time job to help fund his Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of British Columbia while he toured with The Zolas.
Since then, he graduated from UBC, studied audio engineering at CDIS (now The Art Institute) and the Vancouver Film School, and built up his skills as an engineer, producer, composer and instrumentalist in the studio alongside Indie bands like Hey Ocean! and Said The Whale.
Now, he’s just putting the finishing touches on a bigger second space called Monarch Studios.
My name is Tom Dobrzanski. I’m a music producer and recording studio owner. I started my first studio basically to create my own part-time job in university. So it was me and a friend of mine, I was in a band at the time. It was actually his idea. We each had a little money saved up and we decided to put it together to get a small simple studio where we recorded demos and people’s first CDs.
Job prospects are dismal, but applications keep going up
Film students are often the butt of jokes about never being able to find a job. Yet this hasn’t deterred people from applying, even now, when job prospects are as dismal as ever.
The number of students taking on film and television majors has skyrocketed in the U.S. The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts — which only accepts 300 students each term — saw applications jump from 2,800 to 4,800 in a single year, writes the New York Times.
It’s a similar situation in Canada. Since 2006, the prestigious Vancouver Film School has had nearly 8,000 applicants for its 13 programs. The University of British Columbia says it gets an average of 75 applicants annually for a mere 20 spots in its film production program. And get this — York University in Toronto gets up to 17 applicants per spot for its film programs.
But a weak economy has caused many studios and production companies to scale back on staff. “It’s becoming an increasingly flooded marketplace,” Andrew Dahm, who holds a masters degree from U.S.C., told the Times. “Working as an assistant for six years is not unheard of.”
The shallow pool of film-related job postings online reveals a shortage here too. Many job titles applicable to a film graduates have no postings at all. Of the two postings under “video editor” on Workopolis.com, one was for an unnamed company editing wedding footage. A search of the word ‘film’ on Monster.ca brings up only five positions, one of which is an unpaid internship. True, these sites only represent a fraction of jobs, but it’s discouraging nonetheless.
Still, some film educators are optimistic about their students’ futures — just not in film.
“[The] majority of students majoring in film and television will not be having careers in those professions,” Stephen Ujlaki, Dean of Loyola Marymount’s School of Film and Television, told the New York Times. But film training leaves students with business savvy and other skills, he says.
As a student working on a film minor at the University of Manitoba, I have evidence that he’s right. As much flack as I’ve gotten from friends about my capricious minor, film training has proven to be an asset when applying for jobs in another field — journalism. Nearly every publication seems to want to expand its multimedia content and one of those publications, a newspaper, hired me this summer. The time management, organization and communication required on film sets apply to many other jobs
So, it may be true that most film school graduates aren’t going to work on big budget blockbusters or screen their films at Sundance. But that shouldn’t discourage those who truly love film from pursuing a degree in the field. Their time will not be wasted. I can personally attest to that.
Want to get to Hollywood? Start writing, start shooting, and don’t ever stop networking
After a tough day of classes, you’re sprawled out on the couch watching television. In a flash of inspiration, you suddenly realize that you hate your chemistry classes and would rather be a writer on a television show. You think to yourself, “Heck! I could totally write an episode of Heroes that is way better than this one.”
So you sit down at your laptop, fingers poised delicately over the keys, ready to become famous. But how can you actually make it happen?
“I think to be a writer, you have to write,” says Michael Baser, head of the writing for television and film program at the Vancouver Film School.
“To be a director or an actor, you have to be hired to give yourself validation. You can’t be up in your room doing Othello at night and say, ‘Ok, I’m an actor.’ But you can be in your room at night and writing a script, then having a script in hand – you are now a writer.”
Once that script is written, though, it needs to go somewhere. Ultimately – and perhaps unsurprisingly – that somewhere is Los Angeles, where who you know will make a big difference.
“The key thing in T.V. and film is that it’s a highly nepotistic business,” says Baser. He says his own career, in which he produced and wrote for shows including Three’s Company and Full House, started because he was talented but also because he knew the right people.
For someone sitting at home in Canada, making those connections might seem impossible. The key, according to Laura Doyle, screenwriting teacher at VFS and the British Columbia Institute of Technology, is getting your foot in the door.
“I started out in Television Production at BCIT learning to produce, shoot and edit. After I graduated, I got myself some jobs as a production assistant on set,” she says. This ultimately led to a job as a script coordinator and the opportunity to co-write an episode of Neon Rider.
From there, Doyle wrote for MTV and CBS, during which she lived – you guessed it – in Los Angeles. Her career blossomed to include music, some of which was featured on Dawson’s Creek.
What’s important for young writers to remember, say both Baser and Doyle, is the idea of being prolific – to keep writing, and if possible, producing lots of your own original content. The Internet can provide a perfect showcase for your blossoming genius.