The proven education at VFS is built on a premise that the skills students learn here must prepare them for a lifetime of personal and professional opportunity. Our mission is to ensure that students come here and, in one year, learn what they need to move directly into the industry.
As part of this mandate, we involve prominent industry professionals in the development of our programs. These advisory boards serve as lifelines to the industry, providing students with direct connections to the professional world. Advisory board members come from many of the world's top companies, and include independent thinkers and scholars from their respective fields.
Tony Dean Smith
Born in the urban and political jungle of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tony Dean Smith moved to Vancouver at the age of 12 and immersed himself in the world of film, TV, and storytelling.
A recipient of the Directors Guild of Canada Kick Start grant and an award-winning film school graduate, Tony's first 35mm short film Reflection has played in numerous festivals, taking home a first prize award and earning five Leo Award nominations. It continues to touch audiences around the world.
Recent directing credits include Health Nutz, Shiva, and three episodes of the CTV comedy series Robson Arms. He also co-directed the 35mm feature film Summerhood and has garnered acclaim as an award-winning film editor with jury prizes from TIFF, SlamDance, and many other festivals.
A storyteller at heart, Tony continues to develop content for both film and television.
Matthew Lillard, a veteran of both stage and screen, is well-known for his performances in over 50 films and television shows over the last 14 years. With titles like Scream, Without a Paddle, Thir13en Ghosts, and Scooby-Doo 1 & 2, Lillard is associated with a number of Hollywood Box Office hits totaling over $600 million dollars in revenue worldwide. He received critical success with independent titles SLC Punk! and Ed Burns' The Groomsmen, and he's debuted 3 films at the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival. Lillard has also produced 3 films that have appeared in over 20 film festivals worldwide.
A graduate of Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York, Lillard has created and been the Artistic Director of two theatre companies: Mean Street Ensemble in Hollywood, California, and Summoners Ensemble Theatre in New York. He currently resides in Pasadena, California with his wife and three children.
Learn more about Matthew Lillard's VFS connections at vfs.com/matthewlillard
Tyman Stewart has been working in the film industry for 20 years as a talent agent. He is Senior Vice President and a partner in The Characters Talent Agency (West) - Canada's only national talent agency, which has operated in Toronto for 40 years and in Vancouver for 20 years - and represents many of Canada's finest actors, who can be seen on many Canadian and American television series and films. His clients include Brendan Fletcher, Carly Pope, Daniel Gillies (Spiderman 2 and 3), Max Martini, Tyler Labine, Nancy Robertson, and Cynthia Stevenson. Tyman has also discovered a number of high-profile actors whom he has represented over the years, including Barry Pepper, Sarah Chalke, Justin Chatwin, and Ryan Reynolds, to name a few.
Through the full-service The Characters Talent Agency, Tyman and other agents represent some of the top talent in Canada, as well as in the United States, including directors, writers, producers, directors of photography, actors, and talent from many other facets of the industry. The company is also affiliated with S. L. Feldman & Associates, Canada's largest music agency, representing artists from Sarah McLachlan to Joni Mitchell, Diana Krall, and Elvis Costello.
Tyman has an eye for talent and a business ethic that is widely respected throughout the film industry. He provides his clients with valuable opinions and advice based on his experiences from years in the business, and is highly sought after for his responsible attitudes toward his clients. Tyman branched into producing in 2002, with co-producing credits on Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. He has worked as an executive producer on the award-winning Canadian feature Everyone, and has numerous other projects in development.