True Detective Season 2: Who would YOU Cast?

 

When HBO’s True Detective premiered on January 12, 2014, it hit audiences like a ton of bricks. This limited series (eight in total) was created and written by Nic Pizzolatto and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. By unifying the creator/writer with one director, the whole thing felt like your new favourite film, except you got to live in the world for so much longer. The narrative, style and tone were air-tight and mind blowingly awesome. Poetic, gritty, raw . . . okay, we’ll stop now.

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FRAME X FRAME

Frame X Frame Video

Dive into a world of creativity! C’mon, you know you want to . . .

From June 4, 2014, to August 23, 2015, you can check out Frame X Frame: Animated Film at the National Film Board (NFB) presented at Quebec City’s Musée de la civilisation. This exhibit is in place to honour the NFB and the 75 incredible years they have contributed to the advancement and promotion of homegrown films and filmmakers.

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Celebrating the Creative Process

Today, we want to celebrate the creative process. Why? Because it’s complicated, frustrating, fragile, beautiful, and there’s a whole lot of it going on at Vancouver Film School every single day.

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“The Fall has Become the Game I’ve Always Wanted to Play.”

3D Animation & Visual Effects grad John Warner always wanted to create atmospheric games that were a little different. With the help of Acting for Film & Television grad Caleb Allard, he accomplished just that. ”Game development is an interesting balance of creativity and technical strategy, ” says John. ”Being able to create and come up with ideas is one thing, but you’ve also got to have a feasible strategy for making them work and making them fun.”

Once John realized that the writing, story development, and characters needed the next level of work, he hired Caleb for his writing and directing talents, honed during his time at VFS. “The Fall has a lot of voice acting,” said John. ”Thanks to Caleb, we got some really great performances.” 

Set in a dark, distant sci-fi universe, The Fall is about ARID, an artificial intelligence on-board a futuristic combat suit. One day, she is activated and finds the human pilot of the suit unconscious and in desperate need of medical help. However, as she struggles to take control of the suit and help her non-responsive friend, she finds herself in a unique situation that causes her to question her rigid relationship to protocol.

The project was successfully funded through the support of a Kickstarter campaign that launched in October, 2013. The whopping $38,155 total allowed John to explore — and deliver — some really cool features. They include:

  • A unique story set in a rich, atmospheric world.
  • A blend of point and click adventure games, platformers, and shooters to make a compelling experience that’s centred around environment exploration.
  • Fun and creative adventure-style puzzles.
  • A full voice cast, including a unique female protagonist.
  • Episodic structure in 3 acts. The first episode is 3 hours of playing time, if not more.

The Fall has become the game I’ve always wanted to play, but could never find,” says John. There’s no better feeling, we’re sure.

The game was officially released online and available via stream on May 30. Click HERE for more details about The Fall and how you can play.

In the meantime, check out the incredible trailer below!

Congratulations and best of luck!

Dance, Music, Film, and Love

Acting for Film & Television grad Rose Marziale has been just a little bit busy recently. Her short film “It Remains” will be screened next week at the 17th annual Dances with Films Festival, one of the highest-attended film festivals in Southern California. Rose and her best friend, Kent Boyd (So You Think You Can Dance Season 7 runner up), used Kickstarter to fund their passion project and raised almost double the proposed amount. Pretty impressive, no?  ”It Remains” combines dance, music, and film to tell a universal love story.

We had a chance to speak with Rose about her time at VFS and what’s coming up next. Check it out!

Where are you from? What were you up to before coming to VFS?

Rose: I was born in California and raised in Michigan and Colorado. I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in performing, so I never really wanted to go to a normal college.  I chose VFS because I was interested in acting for TV and film and not many schools offer that specific program.

Were you always interested in acting?

Rose: I’ve always been interested in acting, dancing, and singing since I was little and grew up doing all three. During high school, I was really focused on dance but kept getting injured so my mom begged me to stop dancing and do more acting.

What was your experience like in the Acting program at VFS? What were some challenges? What was the best thing about it?

Rose: My experience at VFS was intense!  I hadn’t really taken any acting classes before VFS, so it was a huge learning experience.  The best thing about it was how well-rounded the curriculum was.  I love that it gave me a little taste of everything, and really taught me what type of techniques work and don’t work for me.

We heard about your film “It Remains”. Congratulations! What inspired this film?

Rose: Thank you!  I’m so excited!  My best friend, Kent Boyd, and I made this film together because we just wanted to create something.  Living in LA as an actor, most of your time is not spent acting.  It’s spent on the business side of things, trying to get work.  An amazing mentor of mine, Matthew Harrison, always says that actors are workaholics who are out of work, and it’s so true.  So little of our time is spent actually acting and being creative and doing the thing we’re passionate about.  We had a story to tell and decided to just go for it.

We used Kickstarter to fund the project and we got about double our goal – incredible! It allowed us to take the film much further than we ever thought possible.  When we originally had the idea for the film, we just figured that we would borrow a camera from someone, call in different favors, and film it ourselves.  We eventually thought, “we might as well try doing a fundraising campaign”, and it was a complete game-changer.  It allowed us to hire an amazing crew, including our director (Andrew Morgan), who continually blew us away with their talent and dedication.  It truly became a passion project for everyone involved.

“It Remains” is described as a multidisciplinary film. How did the Acting program prepare you?

Rose: One way that the acting program prepared me for this film is that VFS showed me how important every job on a film set is. I love that we were required to do brief classes in every program, like editing, makeup, writing, etc. This film was like my baby and I was so involved in every aspect, so it was great to already know a bit about what it takes to make a film. That being said, nothing compares to the experience of actually making a film.

Can you tell us about the screening next week at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood? What’s next for you?

Rose: We’re premiering as a part of the 17th annual Dances with Films Festival and couldn’t be more excited!  It’s one of the highest attended film festivals in Los Angeles and, obviously, the Chinese Theatre is so prestigious and it’s a complete honor and dream come true to premiere there.

I’m going to New York next month to perform in the Del Close Marathon through UCB!  It is a huge comedy festival over two days and my improv team, Anchorbaby!, is performing.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Rose: VFS definitely gave me the bones to start my career, but you have to continue putting the work in after you graduate.  Find a community of like-minded artists and create stuff with them.  Even if it ends up being awful and if no one ever sees it, nothing compares to the experience of creating something.

Check out the beautiful trailer below. Best of luck, Rose!

Thriller “32″ to Hit Film Festivals in May

Hopkins Migel Productions, a Calgary-based production company, has recently been accepted into the Sunscreen Film Festival in Saint Petersburg, Florida (May 1-4) and the Famous Monsters of Filmland Film Festival in San Jose, California (May 17-18) with their film “32″. Acting Essentials grad Jeff Miguel (producer, writer, actor) and Film Production grad Jesse Foster (director), along with fifty crew members, shot this dark thriller in just six days. Included in the “32″ team are Acting for film & Television grad Kris Neilson and Film Production grads Megan Bodaly and Alissa Roode. That’s a whole lot of VFS talent on and off camera, don’t you think?

We had a chance to speak with Jesse and Jeff about their time at VFS, the process of making ”32″, and what’s coming up next.

Where are you from? What were you up to before coming to VFS? 

Jesse: I am from Calgary, Alberta. Prior to enrolling at VFS, I attended Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina on a lacrosse scholarship, followed by a year of English Literature and Film History & Criticism at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Instead of furthering my college lacrosse career, I chose to pursue my dream of being a director at VFS in 2003.

Jeff: I am from Calgary, Alberta. Before VFS, I worked at the local video store and studied business at Mount Royal University.

Were you always interested in making films?

Jesse: I have always been fascinated by film and storytelling from a very young age. My parents were very influential in my early exposure to great films. Growing up, my best friend and I were always making short films. I excelled in drama throughout my teens and wanted to be an actor, but chose to focus on athletics instead. Regardless, film was and is a large part of my life. If you ask my friends, I am known for my detailed knowledge of films, directors, actors, quotes, etc. While attending Holyoke CC, my English professor challenged me to write plays and scripts, which led me to the Film History & Criticism course. That’s when the light bulb went off and I knew film was my passion. 

Jeff: Film has always grabbed my attention. Some of the best memories I have revolve around movie nights at home with my family. It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I realized I could actually make them myself. Once that happened, I was watching one movie a night, studying what the film makers were doing, both in front and behind the camera. In a lot of cases, the DVD special features that highlighted behind the scenes stuff were more interesting to me than the actual film.

What were your experiences like at VFS? What were some challenges? What was the best thing about it?

Jesse: My time at VFS was incredible. I enjoyed all facets of the curriculum. VFS helped me define who I was as an artist and to focus on becoming a director. The faculty and staff were always available and supportive. I am grateful for their contributions in helping to shape me into the director I am today. I was honoured to have written and directed the top film in my graduating class and to have my first film “Smile” screened at the Pacific Cinematheque in front of friends, family, peers, and faculty.  It was a moment I will never forget.

Jeff: I had a very positive experience at VFS. It was the first time I had left home, so in addition to starting at a new school, I was also starting in a new city. My class had many people in the same position, so we quickly bonded. I am still in touch with quite a few of them, ten years later.

I would have to say the best thing at VFS was the support they gave us to grow and follow our dreams. We weren’t told that we couldn’t do something. All ideas were welcomed and nurtured. I was in the Acting Essentials program (Class 3-A), coming in with a dream, but l had no acting experience. The teachers and students were patient and encouraged us to grow as much as we could. With that being said, we were expected to push ourselves and prepare, which wasn’t always the easiest thing to do, but helped us grow as artists in the end.

We heard about your film “32”. Can you tell us about it? What were your roles in the film?

Jesse: “32” is a non-linear dramatic short, set in anywhere America during a pandemic viral outbreak.  With minimal dialogue and voice-over, the film centers on a handful of survivors facing the effects of the outbreak and the decisions within their individual environments.  I was honoured to direct “32″, marking my fourth film in this role.  

Jeff: “32” is a short film that focuses on the survivors of a viral outbreak. Each character faces adversities of life, death, love, and fate. My roles on the film were Producer, Writer, and Actor.

Was starting a production company something you always wanted to do? What does Hopkins Migel Productions mean to you?

Jeff: I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. HMP was my first experience having full control over a film. I had acted in many projects that were never completed, and was about ready to give up when my producing partner, Craig Hopkins, approached me about making “32”. The thought of building something from start to finish was very appealing and something we look forward to doing again.

What was the process like filming in Calgary?

Jeff: Calgary is a great place to be if you’re an entrepreneur. The support and encouragement we received from the creative and business communities was very impressive. We received cash sponsorship and location donations from companies ranging from finance to healthcare. The cast and crew went above and beyond the call of duty. It was one of the most professional sets I have ever been on.

Filming in Calgary isn’t as regular an occurrence as it is in Vancouver, so the responses we received from people when we told them we wanted to shoot in their neighbourhoods were enthusiastic to say the least. Our success came down to planning, opportunity, and support. Calgary was a fantastic resource for all three.

Jesse: Calgary is blessed to have such a dynamic, close-knit, and incredibly talented film community.  We were fortunate to draft a solid cast and crew. I have been a part of many sets in my career and I am grateful for the individuals who supported our vision, and the relentless hard work to make a positive and efficient environment.

How did 5 VFS alumni find their way to this project?

Jeff: VFS was actually introduced to me through our director, Jesse Foster. We were working at Blockbuster when he was accepted into the Production program and he encouraged me to visit one of the travelling info sessions. The rest of the crew was made up from our personal networks that were developed during our time there with the exception of Kris Neilsen. Although I know him personally, he had to audition for his role.

What’s next for “32”?

Jeff: “32” has been accepted into the Sunscreen Film Festival in Florida and the Famous Monsters of Filmland Festival in San Jose, both in May. We hope to have a presence at a Canadian festival this year and we’re working on an internet release for the fall.

Do you have any advice for new students? For people thinking about a career in film?

Jesse: Prior to starting the Film Production program, I was given the best advice from Directing Professor Bruce Marchfelder. He said to take advantage of my time on and off campus and make the best of my year, because it goes by very fast. So, to soak it all in on top of the full-time curriculum, I spent my time at the Vancouver Public Library renting every DVD/VHS (yes, VHS) and film/director related book to expand my knowledge. I still honour that advice and continue to learn from the great directors before me as I develop my craft.

Jeff: NETWORK. No one is an island. Your personal network will be there for you when you need help with projects, or just motivation to start one. Build and maintain your network. No matter how good you are at something, you can’t do it all on your own. Also, don’t second guess yourself if you are passionate about something. It will come across in what you do and people will respond to it.

As for those thinking about a career in film, I will use an experience I had while at VFS that I carry with me to this day. A group of us had wanted to film something on the weekend for weeks and it kept getting pushed off until a good friend asked us, “why”? When we couldn’t come up with an excuse other than, “It’s the weekend and we’re busy”, he challenged us to get up and get on it. If you spend too much time thinking about it you’ll always find an excuse not to do it.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Jeff: In order to be successful, you must have a clear goal, a solid plan, and a big list. It is a great feeling to cross things off of your production list as you complete them, and there is no better feeling than sitting down to watch your film for the first time upon achieving your goal. “32” is hopefully the first of many projects that we share with VFS.

Jesse: “Make visible what, without you, might never have been seen.” Robert Bresson

Congratulations and have fun in St. Petersbourg and San Jose!

Jamie Lee Curtis Charms and Inspires VFS Students

Students from Writing for Film & Television, Acting for Film & Television, Entertainment Business Management, Makeup for Film & Television, and Film Production sat down with Hollywood royalty Jamie Lee Curtis. The legendary actress stopped by VFS on April 9 to offer advice to the next generation of filmmakers. Foundation Visual Art & Design  grad and current Writing for Film & Television  student Jonathan Willis attended the special event and shares his experience.

Guest Post by Jonathan Willis

The “Scream Queen,” known from such films as Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda, and True Lies, gave an open and honest talk about her career as an actress. After signing on as one of the last contract stars with Universal, Jamie got her big break when she landed the iconic role as Laurie Strode in the James Carpenter slasher classic Halloween. Filmed over the course of 17 days, with a budget of $300,000, Halloween went on to gross $70 million worldwide.

Students were on the edge of their seats as Jamie recalled stories of auditioning for Francis Ford Coppola, screen testing with Richard Gere, and being Godmother to Jake Gyllenhaal.

“Nobody can tell you what’s special about you.” This was the theme of the night. Jamie encouraged students to “Say no to nothing,” and “Go out into the world and learn.” Anyone who has the drive and passion to make a career in the entertainment industry should “Think, read, and watch as many plays and movies as they can.”

Jamie also recommended students watch The Big Picture and For Your Consideration, both directed by her husband Christopher Guest, for an honest portrayal of the industry.

Before leaving, Jamie offered students one last encouraging thought. Don’t worry about your process; it is not what makes you special. “Do what you want to do wide open.”

It was truly a pleasure listening to everything Jamie had to say. It was an experience that students in attendance won’t soon forget.

Click here to check out more photos from this special event.

A very special thank you to Jamie Lee Curtis for spending time with students at VFS. Also, thanks for sharing your experience with us, Jonathan!

Three MIFF Nominations for “Two Married People”

Two Married People is a feature film directed and executive produced by Acting for Film & Television instructor Jim Bates. You may recognize the title from a VFS blog post written about the film in October, 2013. A lot has changed since Jim and his crew, made up of primarily VFS grads and staff, embarked on ”eight crazy days of guerrilla filmmaking”. Two Married People has recently been accepted into the Milan International Film Festival with three nominations in the Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay categories. This is great news for Acting for Film & Television grads Margot Sikabonyi and Shane Twerdun who star in the film.

We had a chance to ask Jim about this recent success, the filmmaking process, and what’s next for Two Married People.

What was the inspiration for “Two Married People”? What is the history behind this project?  

Margot and I stayed in close contact after she graduated and returned to Italy in 2007. We discussed making a film together often. In the summer of 2011, she was in Vancouver and we shook hands and agreed to make a film in December of 2011. At that time we had no story idea.

What was the process of making this film?

We developed a few story ideas and finally landed on the idea of two international married people at a sales conference having an affair. In December 2011, we shot the film with less than $5,000 and a Canon 5D and one 650W light. I had a 50 page script that we developed through improvisation and rehearsal while we were shooting. The post production was slow and arduous as I had no money and it took forever to get things done. For example, I had to go to Rome to ADR about 100 lines of Margot’s dialogue. (ADR is hard – Margot’s skill at this is amazing – a lot of time and money was saved because of this). Back in Vancouver, we did Shane’s ADR, we had to find a sound mixer, colourist. It was all very slow and difficult to pay for.

What have been some of the challenges of directing and producing a new feature film?

See above. When it comes to the actual shooting on set – that is a pleasure.

The two actors featured in this film are VFS grads. How did this team come together?

I had great relationships with both of them when they graduated. I had directed Shane in Julius Caesar in 2004, and saw his work in other projects and wanted to work with him. I knew they were both the perfect match for this project. The chemistry between them was fantastic.

As an actor, was there ever a time in the process that you wanted to jump in front of the camera?

Always.

You spoke about writing an outline for the script and using improvisations from the actors to flesh out the story. What was the biggest revelation in working this way?

I have been working this way for 25 years, so I am quite comfortable with it. I use this method a lot in my Scene Study on Camera Classes. Shane and Margot were very familiar with how I work from their days in our school.

How did it feel to be nominated for three MIFF awards? What can this kind of recognition do for a new film?

It was a great feeling. We had already been rejected by a handful of festivals – they all receive so many submissions – thousands of  films. It is very satisfying to get a little bit of recognition and attention for your work. I am also glad for Margot and Shane receiving nominations for their performances.

What’s next for Two Married People?

Hopefully, a distribution deal. I would love to get it on pay television in Europe and North America, or even Netflix. The wider the audience, the better. I doubt we will ever make our money back, though.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Check out the new St. Vincent album!

Congratulations, Jim! 

Update: Two Married People won Best Screenplay at the Milan International Film Festival! As a result, the film will be screened and compete for Best Picture. Also, look for Two Married People in L.A. during the American Film Market in early November!

Passion and Community Spirit Earn Two Students the Brandon Flock Scholarship

Matt Button and Naazneen Esmaeli are the recipients of this year’s Brandon Flock Foundation/VFS Acting Essentials Scholarship. The committee has chosen to award the full BFF scholarship to Matt, and the partial scholarship ($5,000) to Naazneen.

“We selected Matt due to his incredible love for giving back to the community,” the scholarship committee said. “In five years’ time, Matt would like to be running community programs in Winnipeg focusing on the arts.” Originally from Hastings, ON, Matt has always loved performing and sees the Acting Essentials Program as a chance to “give it a shot”. “The opportunity to work with professionals definitely excites me. I trust the instruction and training will prepare me, not only for the 12-month Acting for TV & Film Program, but for the industry in general. I am totally excited to be a part of the entertainment community.” When asked about his reaction to winning the BFF scholarship, he said, “I felt like I had won the lottery and was given another shot to pursue my dreams. My passion was instantly re-ignited. I am very grateful.”

Naazneen demonstrated a commitment to following her dream; something the committee felt compelled to recognize. “We were very impressed with Naazneen’s burning passion to continue her education in the Arts. After becoming the first person in her family to attend post-secondary, she is taking the leap of faith to pursue her love of acting.” Although Naazneen spent the first eight years of her life in Toronto, she considers herself a “Vancouverite”, and a die-hard Canucks fan. She is excited and grateful to the Brandon Flock Foundation for giving her a chance to start this next step. “Life is about being vulnerable, passionate, and honest. There’s always a little voice in our heart that goes unheard because of all the other voices in our head. Dig deep, listen, and you’ll hear it.”

The Brandon Flock Foundation “BFF” was established in 2013 as a living memorial for Brandon Flock by his family, friends, and colleagues. This scholarship is designed to help passionate young artists pursue an education in the field of fine arts. Brandon believed that art in all forms contributed to a better well being.

 

 

 

VFS Summer Intensives 2014: One Week That Packs an Industry Punch

Vancouver Film School’s Summer Intensives are back this July!

Get a taste of what VFS is all about in one intense week. Don’t believe us? Why not take a little ‘scroll’ down our list of programs? Take your time. We’ll just wait here with our quinoa burger and sassy beach hat.

VFS Summer Intensives 2014:

  • Acting for Film & Television  (July 21 to 25)
  • Animation & Visual Effects  (July 28 to August 1)
  • Art, Film & Design  (July 7 to 11)
  • Digital Design  (July 21 to 25)
  • Film Production  (July 21 to 25)
  • Game Design  (July 21 to 25)
  • Makeup Design for Film & Television  (July 14 to 18)
  • Programming for Games, Web & Mobile  (July 7 to 11)
  • Sound Design for Visual Media  (July 28 to August 1)
  • Writing for Film & Television  (July 14 to 18)

Great, right? Now picture it: You’re in downtown Vancouver (it’s a beautiful day), you can see the mountains, you’re with new Summer Intensive friends — you know, relating to each other and stuff — and you realize something… ”Gaming, designing, programming, writing, acting, filming… I’m doing it!”

This summer just became the one to beat. Are you ready?

Find out more about VFS Summer Intensives 2014 and register today!

By the way…

  • Get a $400 discount on the Art, Film & Design Intensive if you combine it with any second intensive, plus 10% off your total fees.
  • Get 10% off your total fees if you take any two 2014 intensives.

See you there!