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College offers film courses for free, reaches out to displaced Catalyst Paper Tis’kwat employees

North Island College providing opportunity to train for film industry positions
NEW CAREER: Film course students in North Island College’s micro-credential program will receive hands-on training in a film studio in Langley, along with an online learning component, to become certified to work in the film industry.

For displaced Catalyst Paper Tis’kwat (pronounced Tees’kwat] workers and others facing employment challenges in the qathet region, there is an opportunity to train for a position in the film industry.

Through North Island College, three motion picture crew micro-credential training programs are being offered, tuition free, including an online component, and actual training in a motion picture studio called Martini Film Studios in Langley.

Vancouver Island North Film Commission film commissioner Joan Miller said the courses, which provide instruction in lighting, in being a grip, or for set construction, are available to semi-rural and rural British Columbians ages 16 and older who are committed and motivated to working in the film and television industry.

The courses run between January 4 and February 24 and are tuition free on a one-time basis.

Miller said the first four or five weeks of the course is taught online so those enrolled can perform the study on their own time and schedule. She said there are also three online panels during that period of time with industry experts.

“Then, once they get through that, we have to have the in-person part, which is 20 per cent of the program,” said Miller. “There are 10 days of being there working at the studio. We will bring them in the day before. For people eligible for this program, travel costs will be covered, the hotel and meals.”

Miller said the first five days at the studio involve instruction that will assist the students in procuring the required industry certificates.

“Then, the instructors roll in for the next five days and each department – set construction, grip and lighting – will be working with a department head from the industry,” said Miller. “The students will be working with all of the equipment.”

Miller said the set construction students will be building an actual set and on the last day, all three departments will come together.

“All three of those departments get the opportunity to interact with each other like they would on set,” said Miller. “There will be cameras and a director putting together a mock film. The people in the course will get to understand the beats and the timing. By this time they will have learned all of the lingo and will practice what they have to do on set.”

Those who successfully complete the instruction will receive their micro-credential certification for the program.

“They can begin to apply for production experience,” said Miller. “They will have all of the tools they need to successfully enter the industry.”

Producers seek trained crew

Miller said in a case such as Exile, the film that was recently shot in the qathet region, the producers were looking for people with exactly this type of training to hire on set so the film company does not have to start from scratch training these people.

Film unions recognize the strength of this training, said Miller. Union representatives will speak to the students when they are training in Langley. She said those completing the courses would be fully qualified to register on the island north film commission’s database for workers.

“We would be sending out all of the information when a production calls us and asks for local crew,” said Miller. “The biggest benefit to us is it helps us build our crew base. People who have skills or experience gained from other industrial settings are so transferrable into the film industry.”

Miller said when news broke about the Catalyst curtailment, North Island College reached out immediately to try to provide opportunities for workers who will be displaced. For more information on the three micro-credential courses, those interested can contact Ashley Russo at North Island College. Her email is and her phone number is 250.923.9700, extension 7837.
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