Joel Schulz June 13, 2012 0

The challenges facing Film and Television graduates in Alberta.

by Nick Haywood – Alberta Buzz Contributing Writer/Recent Film Graduate


We were told it would be feast or famine. Yet, even when the feast comes, it’s not enough, for everyone is hungry. Therein lies the central dilemma for many Film and Television graduates -like myself- working in Alberta today. We have many of the most revered crew in Canada working in this very province, who are either kept very busy for a steady and lucrative period (of up to 7 or 8 months straight a year) or are forced to scrape by or find alternative work outside of the industry through strenuous periods of drought. These extended droughts have urged novice and veteran filmmakers and technicians alike to almost instinctively “hop a freighter” over to Vancouver, Canada’s metaphorical Hollywood. Many friends and fellow graduates from the Film and Video program at SAIT have made this their prerogative as well.

The fickle nature of our industry demands that when the work comes in, you must be fierce and versatile with what you carry in your tool belt. The great thing about starting out in Alberta is that there is a very close-knit brotherhood amongst filmmakers in our sect. You do good work, you carry a friendly demeanor, and chances are you’ll make fast friends with many a talented and generous people who will be happy to see you again on set. However, ambition is the name of the game, and there aren’t enough pieces for everyone to play all at once. Therefore, graduates like myself have to standout. Big fish in small ponds as they say.

A quick way to stand out in this market is by the company you keep. The results of which can’t be substantial enough here in Alberta. This summer in particular is ramping up to be very busy with Hell on Wheels and Heartland shooting simultaneously, as well as multiple feature films coming into the region. Now more than ever, there are many people in the industry waiting to work with passionate young filmmakers and post-graduates to reinvigorate our community.

It is my intention to meet many of these people this week, as I have been blessed with a rare opportunity from my friends and mentors at SAIT Polytechnic to attend the 2012 Banff World Media Festival, as a delegate. Happenstances such as these are how graduates excusing themselves from the kids’ table will let themselves be known. That, and a sufficient amount of luck helps.

* Images fromWild Life by Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby – NFB

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