At Vancouver Film School, we believe that a single year offers endless possibilities. Why? Because in our 23 years, we've seen it again and again.
In one year, our students achieve the seemingly impossible, and in 2010, our graduates amassed incredible professional accomplishments. They earned recognition everywhere from the Oscars to the Guggenheim, innovated new kinds of entertainment, and shaped the very world we live in. Together, they keep us inspired every day, every week, and every month. We hope you enjoy their stories just as much as we do.
Maybe the average moviegoer can’t tell the difference between foam, gelatin, or bondo makeup prosthetics, but Makeup Design students certainly can. That’s why we were proud to kick the year off by unveiling the program’s new silicone prosthetics curriculum, something offered by very few schools in North America. It gives students crucial experience with a tool that’s relied upon by today’s film makeup industry.
The breakout sci-fi hit District 9, co-written by VFS Writing for Film & Television grad Terri Tatchell and directed by 3D Animation & Visual Effects grad Neill Blomkamp, capped off its incredible award run with four Academy Award nominations, including Writing (Adapted Screenplay). “I don’t think I’ve missed a single Oscars since I was 7 years old, and to be actually attending as a nominee this year is ridiculous,” Terri told us. “I couldn’t feel luckier!”
Our year was punctuated with the biggest event ever to be held in our city: the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. And after the Games wrapped and he had the chance to breathe, we caught up with Digital Design grad Shawn Parkinson, who was a key member of the branding team responsible for everything from the graphic identity to the medals and torches – or, as he put it, “just about everything.”
Actor Matthew Lillard (Scream, Scooby-Doo) has thrown himself head-first into our Acting for Film & Television program, actively nurturing students and graduates alike. That support takes many forms, including regular workshops and guest talks like one in April with fellow actor Cassidy Freeman (Smallville). “Part of this program is that you walk out with a sense of who you are, and that you’re an actor,” he said.
Student producers in Entertainment Business Management made their presence – and savvy – known throughout the year, driving the creation of everything from awards galas to a celebrated iPad magazine. The vision behind it all? Look beyond the old way of doing things and forward to a future where there are no borders between film, TV, games, music, and digital media. In short, embrace change, Head of Department Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin declared in May.
We blushed! The Computer Graphics Student Awards named VFS School of the Year for 2010, and singled out three students for their achievements in the 3D animation and visual effects realm. They included Student of the Year Maximilian-Gordon Vogt, Excellence in Lighting winner Frederik Lillelund, and Diego Piccinato, who won special ‘Highly Acclaimed’ honours.
There are two things we know: Melody Drolet has a great name for a sound designer, and she’s way too humble! We interviewed the Sound Design for Visual Media grad after she was nominated for an Emmy Award (Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries for the Syfy miniseries Alice), and she was still incredulous: “I am very proud to be listed with the others on the ballot. They are amazingly talented people. I almost feel like I don’t deserve to be listed alongside them!”
It's an era of computers and stereoscopic 3D, but 2D is alive and well. In fact, the instructors in our Classical Animation program – animation veterans who have experienced the industry through thick and thin – are seeing a real resurgence in demand for animators with 2D backgrounds and training, thanks in no small part to the influence of Pixar's John Lasseter. As VFS instructor Moose Pagan put it, "2D skills are more important now than they were when Flash was at its peak a few years ago."
Being on the prestigious Guggenheim Museum’s radar is an accomplishment for any artist. No wonder we were thrilled when four films created by students at VFS – in both Digital Character Animation and Classical Animation – were chosen by the museum for the 125-video YouTube Play shortlist, out of an incredible 23,000 submissions, including the shortlist’s only two representatives of Mexico!
Foundation Visual Art & Design grad Ryan Copple is the creator of Riese, a steampunk web series that has featured many familiar sci-fi stars: from Amanda Tapping (Stargate) to Allison Mack (Smallville). That’s pretty cool. What’s even cooler is that American cable network Syfy picked up the series as a key part of their Syfy.com lineup. Relaunched as Riese: Kingdom Falling Airs on Syfy.com.
Writing for Film & Television students had the chance to pick the Emmy-winning brains of Anne Beatts, one of the founding writers of Saturday Night Live, and current Mad Men writer and co-executive producer Maria Jacquemetton when they visited VFS for several days. “The entire week, simply put, was an eye-opening conversation that made many of our goals seem just a bit more tangible,” said Natasha Hall, who even got to have lunch with the pair.
One of the highlights as the year drew to a close was the Canadian New Media Awards gala, which saw VFS Digital Design instructor Myron Campbell win Interactive Designer of the Year. Of course, even though the awards were being announced at a ceremony in Toronto, Myron had a global audience applauding the win. “It was a great feeling to look on Twitter and Facebook and see all the support from VFS staff, students, and alumni cheering me on,” he wrote afterward.
VFS grads worked on all 10 of the highest grossing films of the year (worldwide), including Toy Story 3, Inception, Shrek Forever After, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.
VFS grads worked on about half of the 100 highest grossing films of the year.
VFS grads worked on many of 2010's best-selling 360, PS3, and PC games, including Red Dead Redemption, Starcraft II, God of War III, Kinect Adventures, and Mass Effect 2.
Well over 300 stories and interviews were posted on the VFS Blog in 2010.
Three VFS student films passed major milestones for views on YouTube in 2010, including The Switch (2 million), The Room (1 million), and Le Parkour (1 million).
Since premiering on the VFS YouTube channel in Summer 2010, Mauricio Dal Poggetto's 3D film The History of Greed has racked up nearly 200,000 views.
At any given time, you would have found about 1,100 students across our 13 programs this year.
Over 8,000 students have studied at VFS since 1997.
Students have access to over 400 game titles in the VFS Game Design library.
2010 saw the first-ever third-party sale for a game created by Game Design students: the browser platformer Tide Turner.
Four Makeup Design graduates owned the podium at the internationally renowned IMATS competitions in 2010.
“My favorite sound in the game was the shopping cart," he explains. "Kyle actually beat up an old shopping cart. It sounds great.”
Sound Design for Visual Media grad
“Writing has always been a love but when I discovered dramatic writing, screenwriting just clicked. I remember reading the script for Reservoir Dogs and just understanding how dialogue worked. It was very powerful.”
Writing for Film & Television grad
“I remember I wasn't too sure if I was up for going to an audition, because I was getting my wisdom teeth pulled two days from then and was so paralyzed by fear I didn't even want to leave the house.”
Acting for Film & Television grad
“Watching the reviews come in and watching the excitement grow on the forums over the months is awesome. It's a very rewarding experience to be able to be part of something like this.”
Sound Design for Visual Media grad
Mass Effect 2
“The reason I chose to pursue [live gaming events] full-time is that I believe in the power of the community that I see in Vancouver and beyond. ”
Game Design grad
“Honestly, it's all very surreal. I remember being at Comic-Con last year and thinking, 'Wouldn't it be funny if people actually watched our show?'”
Foundation Visual Art & Design grad
“It isn't enough to make a great film and understand how to manage all aspects of its production. Before the shutter opens, before a pixel hits the screen, you must also have a rock solid strategy for how you are going to make an audience care about your great film.”
Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin: Head of
Entertainment Business Management
“I tripped over a stand and ended up in Tom Cruises's lap. He was very surprized, to say the least.”
Makeup Design for Film & Television
Instructor, Makeup Technique
“Students that are coming out of [Digital Design] are showing great work… and we're always looking for people on the cutting edge.”
Digital at Tribal DDB Canada
“The short film is our short film, so it's different. It's more exciting. You have more responsibility.”
Diana Garcia Mendez. Entertainment Business Management grad
“A computer can't give you good composition. It can't give you good design. It can't give you good animation. It can't give you good story. You have to know how to do all those things… and the best way to learn all those things is through pencil and paper.”
Classical Animation instructor
“Blowing up buildings or tearing down the street shooting a car chase is a pretty rad way to earn a living.”
Film Production grad
The Good Guys
“We just hope people enjoy it, and that our lonely monsters will get a date. And for it to be remade into a 3D feature with James Cameron for ridiculous money.”
Writing for Film & Television grad
“The successes I've been a part of really come down to people, their stories, and inspiring collaborations – much of that started at VFS for me.”
Peter Jin Hong (Google)
Digital Design grad & Advisory Board Member
VFS to award Women in Games grant
In Focus is a bimonthly round-up of news from around VFS. We'll tell you what's new, drop in on students, and profile working grads as they share their hard-earned experience and wisdom.
Download the latest editions below or visit the issues archive.
Hundreds of videos, millions of views: VFS has the number one school channel on YouTube. Here are some highlights from among the many incredible student films and reels posted in 2010.