By Luka Tskhadaia
The 44th Toronto International Film Festival came to its official end on Sep. 15. It showed over 300 screenings from 80 different countries to the world and students from Humber College’s Film & Media Production program have had a hand in some of them.
One of those features happens to be Easyland, a movie about a Serbian immigrant woman with mental health issues and her daughter, who move to Toronto. The woman’s dream is to build an architectural foundation that helps immigrants. The film’s story unrolls to show how difficulties threaten to derail her dream until her daughter takes the matters into her own hands.
This is a story about two people – nurturer and the nurtured – and how circumstances can switch those roles. The movie had two screenings at TIFF 2019 and that movie’s assistant location manager is a current Humber film and media production student Drew Barsness. He shared some of the details of his experience with Skedline.
“That’s now part of my story. I’m Drew Barsness, I work in the film industry, I’ve been working on a movie that premiered at Toronto International Film Festival. This is forever going to be part of who I am,” Barsness says.
Barsness is a third-year student at Humber, who went from playing with a Kodak camcorder with his brothers when he was a kid to becoming part of thew crew of a TIFF piece Easyland. His position was ALM (Assistant Location Manager) and some of his responsibilities included securing the shooting location and constantly making sure it’s clean and ready to be filmed.
‘‘If a camera makes everything look good, for example, like a paint makes a car look good, I would consider myself a part of the engine of this car with the producer and production manager,” explained Barsness.
Barsness says he worked for 16 hours a day and couldn’t keep up with the school work or spend much time with family and friends. However, he says that didn’t upset him because he knew that ‘the end goal’ was worth it. There was no sure sign of this piece making it to the festival. Despite that, Barsness says the process of working with a good team gave him a feeling of creating something special and it was enough to stay motivated and passionate while doing his job.
Another story of a remarkable TIFF-related achievement by a Humber student belongs to Sam Kilpatrick, a second-year student in Humber’s film & media degree program, who was awarded the William F. White and Vilmos Zsigmond Cinematography scholarship. Created by Canada’s only national film and television production equipment provider company, the scholarship was created for the film student in Toronto, who presented the most impressive film analysis, creative project, and other works.
‘‘It was pretty surreal, to be honest. I’ve met some of the big names in Toronto film industry who do a lot of shooting and producing,’’ says Kilpatrick.
He says his professors were encouraging and pushing students in his class to do volunteer work outside of class, work on sets, and apply for scholarships or contests. And Kilpatrick says the future looks bright for Humber film students, given past successes.
‘‘I’m not being biased or anything. You know, last year’s winner of the scholarship was also a Humber student, and they only pick one person from all of Toronto. I think it’s going to keep growing and growing each year, our students keep getting better and better,” Kilpatrick said.