Funny thing is, television wasn’t even my first choice. Okay – maybe it was my secret first choice, but my practical first choice was biomedical engineering.
I worked hard for a year and a half to get into biomed. It was the only thing I could think about. Working with medical instruments and machinery, developing tools to diagnose and treat diseases and help people; what could be better than that?
But the first term in biomed wiped me out. I left at the start of the second term. I realized too late that my aptitude in math is low, and my interest in electronics close to nil. It took me awhile to get back on my feet, and start thinking about where I wanted to go from there.
You get what you want from what your studies, regardless of where you go and what program you’re in. If that was true, what was stopping me from pursuing television and film?
A year after biomed, I applied for the Television and Video Production program at BCIT. A two-year, full-time diploma program at a technology school; I knew it was going to be rough. It’s BCIT. They’re not about to make it easy.
The program teaches us literally everything they can. Their ambition is to provide you with all the basic knowledge possible, from live broadcast to scripted TV, before they haul you out the door at the end of the two years.
Every part of school was challenging in its own way. It really made us rethink what we thought we knew about the industry – and the industry is vast. The program broke down our preconceptions and made us re-evaluate what we really wanted.
Do we want to PA through the cold and rain to join the DGC, or do we want a comfortable 9-5 office job? Are we ready to pull cables for live events or work 14-hour set days? Do we want to edit or shoot? Are we willing to make work our entire lives in order to reach our aspirations?
Thankfully, I didn’t enter the program with dreams of becoming a hotshot director or a sought-after DP. I wanted to learn as much as I could and hopefully gain as much experience as possible. School gave us so many opportunities to learn about different things.
We filmed and edited news stories in 4 hours in term 2, which is insanity considering how terrible we all were in term 1, when we had weeks to shoot a short b-roll video. This February, we shot live games for the Delta Ice Hawks and were collectively awful at it. As it turns out (and to no one’s surprise), I was terrible at tight follow.
We also learned screenwriting. It was one of my favourite classes, taught by our fantastic instructor Bruce Thorson. I’d always been interested in writing, begrudgingly so. By the end of our 1st year at school, we had the opportunity to pitch our scripts to turn them into short films as one of our 2nd year projects.
Insanely enough, I convinced my friend Talon to pitch my script with me before the entire class and a panel of industry professionals. And even crazier, we were chosen as one of the four teams to produce our short film. It was my first time producing anything. And hopefully, not my last.
The short film was absolute chaos. Some days found me questioning myself, because quite frankly, I had no idea what I was getting into. Other days, I knew it was all going to work out one way or another because I had a greatly supportive cast and crew with me. Either way, it was a blast.
I can’t imagine what else could have completed my education at BCIT besides practicum experience. Seeing how a start-up production company is run first-hand, what working with real clients is like, and watching raw footage from the RED were valuable knowledge that formal education in a classroom wouldn’t have given me.
At Noravera, everyone is caffeinated around the clock. They’re all collaboratively rushing towards deadlines, editing a thousand videos and responding to emails post-haste – and somehow, they still managed to find the time to create the April Fool’s video with my buddy Ethan and I.
It’s great here, and feels so genuine. That’s something Noravera’s clients get when working with them.
I am very lucky to have gotten in as one of the practicum students. I honestly didn’t think I was, given my supremely awkward performance during the phone interview. My dog trotted downstairs when he heard me talking. Naturally, I thought he was going to bark, so I went hiding in a stuffy storage room to continue the chat.
Pacing around a small space with dusty suitcases and old furniture does not make for an ideal phone interview setting. And somehow, I got in!
I am optimistic about the future, but it’s important to remain realistic. Holding yourself accountable for your own situation, wherever you may be, and knowing that there’s always something new to learn are things that took me years to realize.
Now that I’m nearing the end of my two years, I have a fairly good idea of where I want to go. My last year at BCIT and my practicum at Noravera have helped pave the way for me. Am I excited? Yes. Am I terrified? A hundred times yes.
I think it’s hard for anyone to know exactly what they want to do, but that’s what makes life a real adventure.