Timing couldn't have worked out more favourably for students in Cambrian College's theatre arts technical production.
Just as Ken Salah took over the program and broadened its scope to include motion picture components, the movie-making industry in Sudbury began gaining momentum.
He had no idea it was happening, but it turned out to be “a happy coincidence.”
As a result of what they learn, more students coming from the two-year college program are able to stay in Greater Sudbury and work in their field of study.
Before he took over, Salah said the program was primarily focused on theatre arts. Based on his personal experiences, Salah expanded the horizons of what the program taught. He said the days of the professionals working solely in one industry or the other are “ancient history.”
“They're all intertwined now,” he said. The transition isn't that much of a stretch since it involves much of the “same equipment, different application.”
With the recent rise in northern film productions, the need to hire knowledgeable personnel is increasing.
“I think the potential here is absolutely monstrous,” Salah said.
What students learn at Cambrian is just what many crews are looking for.
“Productions coming here will not be hiring in any of the key positions, department heads, production management or post production,” Salah said. “These artistic, design and management teams have been in place for months, doing all the pre-production work. They are coming here to do principal photography; as such, they need to fill the vast array of crew positions this requires.
“That is exactly what we are training people for at Cambrian College.”
Students coming from the program spend quite a bit of time actually training in the field, versus studying from textbooks in classrooms. By the time they graduate, students typically have worked on eight mainstage productions, taken part in eDome projects and helped with the Easter Seal's telethon.
When their diplomas are in their hands, many students are thinking about sticking around to get some practical experience in the field.
“A lot of my students are looking around thinking 'It might be good to establish myself here instead of Toronto,'” Salah said. “There's a whole different thinking here on leaving Sudbury.”
Trent Holubeshen is a second-year student in the program. He came from southern Ontario to study at Cambrian based on industry referrals. After his first year of studies, the Hamilton native put many of his newfound skills to use in theatres.
While he would eventually like to work in a theatre environment, he said he's not limiting himself.
“I always did find the film and video spectrum to be interesting,” he said. “I enjoyed being on set.”
Knowing what he's doing in both environments is crucial for someone who wants to jump from one to the other.
“I'm figuring out the skills I learned in theatre can be used in film and video,” he said. “I could do both. I could have my fingers in everybody's pies.”