A movie set can be an overwhelming place.
People are scurrying about, in what appears to be every direction, speaking in what seems to be some bizarre secret language, dodging cameras and bright lights, in what looks like warp speed.
For someone new to the industry, the sights and sounds can be intimidating enough to make their first day their last. Knowing just how confounded one can be when they start working in the industry, Northern Ontario Film Studios is taking steps to educate future crews on what to expect. Partnering with the Directors Guild of Canada, in association with Collège Boréal, NOFS has recruited Derby Crewe to teach two one-day sessions to students, and a more in-depth two-day course to people interested in working in the field and those wanting to add to their resumes.
Fred Yackman, director of training at NOFS, said the workshops align with NOFS's vision for creating capable crews ready and able to work in the North.
“People shouldn't have to leave Northern Ontario if they don't want to,” he said.
Crewe said his presentations are heavily focused on the basics of the film and TV industries, and give aspiring industry professionals an honest perspective of the business. He said its important to know the physical and mental health strains associated with the industry, as well as the financial structure and the challenges is can place on relationships. Long hours and shift work can be hard on the body, which in turn takes its toll on the mind, he said. While staff are well compensated when they are working, they aren't able to expect a regular pay cheque. These factors can all add up to individuals having trouble maintaining relationships, Crewe said.
“Some people don't understand why you do what you do,” he said.
While not intending to scare anyone away from the field, which can provide years of rewarding work, Crewe was honest. Yackman said that was the point of the presentation.
“What we want to do is give them insight into the industry so they can get a realistic view of it — not a romanticized version,” he said.
The students attending Jan. 18 were from local high schools. Trevor Liinamaa, a Gr. 12 student from Confederation Secondary School, said he was enjoying the workshop. Prior to attending, he was thinking of pursuing a post-secondary education geared toward becoming a millwright. Now, he's not so sure.
“I might be turned around by this,” he said.
Dylan Callens, who teaches Liinamaa broadcasting at Confed, said he was glad his students could be part of the experience.
“They're learning about things we can't talk about (in school),” he said.
Yackman said by participating in these programs, people make themselves more attractive to future employees. It shows “a level of commitment” on behalf of the worker, indicating as well that they have some background knowledge.
He said workshops will continue to be offered on an as-needed basis.
“It will be driven by demand,” he said.
For more information about NOFS and its programs, visit www.nofstudios.com.