InFocus Film School Blog


Written by Felicity Flesher


Adaptations have become a forefront in cinema. Feature films today are based on all kinds of intellectual property including video games, comic books and literature. Writing an adaptation is a great way to get your foot in the door, and hone your craft. Some of the greatest movies of all time originated as short stories, such as The Birds, Brokeback Mountain, and Memento. But how does a writer take a short story idea and adapt it into feature screenplay? 

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Written by Johnny Papan


The art department is in charge of the decorative, tangible visual aesthetic of cinema. It’s responsible for how a character dresses, why they dress that way, what their house looks like, what their job-cubicle looks like, etc, etc.


Every choice made by the art department is in service to subtly give audiences a deeper look into the world and characters.


“Generally speaking, I start with the character,” explains Charles Whiteway Wilkinson, who has worked both as a professional industry Production Designer and Art Director. “I think who’s room is this? Who are they? What do they do? Do they have kids? Are they single/married? Old/young? From here I determine the era, colours, quality of furniture, artwork, photograph, etc.”


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By Johnny Papan


The word animation derives from the Latin word aminare which means “to give life to.” This is exactly what animation is about, giving life to something that once did not have life. Animation has been a staple in art and entertainment since the early 1900s, consistently evolving from the complex projections of ink on paper to a mostly electronic medium. Though there are countless animation styles that span the 2D and 3D realms, there is still a fundamental idea that all animators must follow. Breathe life into your characters and their environments.


But how exactly do you give life to your character? Animation is a meticulous process which requires artful attention to detail, and a fair amount of preparation.


Here are our five key steps to bringing your 3D characters to life.

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By Kryshan Randel


2018 was a year of out-of-nowhere surprises. For every film from an established master (Schrader, Lanthimos, Noe), there were films helmed by directors like Bo Burnham, Ari Aster, Ali Abbasi and many others whom I had never heard of before. My usual preference for dark comedies and thrillers are here, but overall this is a way more diverse list than usual.



A coming of age story as visceral and emotionally complex as the real thing. Anxiety, terror, comedy and heart co-exist, sometimes all in the same scene. Elsie Fisher’s performance anchors all of the successful shifts in tone, and the film’s understanding of social media is peerless.



Riveting documentary about a daredevil free climber who scales Yosemite’s 3000 foot high El Capitan wall without a rope. A thrilling, incredible character study. A perfectionist meets his match and we are right there with him, body, mind, heart, soul, with every perilous step.



An undercover reporter pretends to be swayed by an ISIS recruiter, until she falls under his spell for real. The greatest trick of this film is that we can understand why; the recruiter is charming, convincing and all too persuasive. The best of the laptop found footage movie genre (movies taking place entirely on laptop screens.)



A rigorous examination of faith, with a career-best performance from Ethan Hawke as an anguished priest. A bleak film driven by rage and sorrow, made with tremendous discipline and self imposed restrictions.



A beautiful nightmare, Gaspar Noe’s latest provocation combines ecstatic dance with extreme horror, and will send some screaming for the exits while it puts others in a trance-like state. Possessed performances and dazzling experimentation create a film that is experienced rather than just watched. Just like Noe’s Enter the Void, this is an uncompromising work of art, extraordinary ambitious, expanding the possibilities of what cinema is capable of more than any other film this year.



The family trauma endured here sets the horror bar so high that the supernatural elements can’t quite surpass it. Still, expert direction and flawless performances from the entire cast, especially Toni Collette, result in the rare genre film that will haunt you for days.



Period costume dramas are not usually among my favourite genres, but Lanthimos’ latest is the opposite of stuffy and formal. This is outrageously farce, with endlessly witty, quotable dialogue and a contagious tone of glee and madness.



Creatively staged comedy that never lets up for a second, with every kind of joke imaginable, and some memorable action sequences too. The Fincher-esque tributes and stylistic flourishes are the icing on the cake.



A non-human customs officer who can smell fear, falls for a similar creature who shows them their true self. A deranged original from the writer of Let the Right One In. It’s an unclassifiable modern day fairy tale so grounded in the real world that when the surprises show up (and there are many,) they land with intimate shock.



It’s not often that I fall for an Oscar baiting Hollywood crowd pleaser as I much as I did for Green Book, probably not since Titanic. However this irresistible road movie is tremendously engaging, funny and moving. Old fashioned entertainment in the best sense of the term.



The vulnerable genius artist portraits THE ZEN DIARIES OF GARRY SHANDLING, MCQUEEN, FILMWORKER, SHIRKERS and A STAR IS BORN; the epic sci-fi spectacles AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and READY PLAYER ONE; the fascinating shot-by-shot breakdown of PSYCHO’s shower scene 78/52; the moving survival tale ADRIFT; the beautifully sincere WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOUR; the escapist comedy CRAZY RICH ASIANS and pitch black comedy BLACK KKKLANSMAN; the raw time capsule MID90s; the haunting thrillers BURNING and MANEKO NORI; the period horror of APOSTLE; the extraordinary powerful THE HATE U GIVE; the neurotic authenticity of PRIVATE LIFE; and the non-stop creativity and spectacular storytelling of the all-ages winners PADDINGTON 2 and SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDERVERSE. The transcendent last thirty minutes of ANNIHILATION are also worth a mention too.










Lazy storytelling and anonymously vacant, with a total blank of a lead performance. The worst STAR WARS entry since their Holiday Special.



Claire Denis’ lost-in-space trippy HIGH LIFE, Jordan Peele’s latest thriller US, Ari Aster’s Hereditary horror follow-up MIDSOMMAR, Dan Gilroy’s Altman-esque horror film set in the art world VELVET BUZZSAW, the Safdie Brothers’ heist thriller UNCUT GEMS, James Gray’s space quest AD ASTRA, Tarantino’s 60’s epic ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD, Scorsese’s DeNiro/Pesci/Pacino team-up film THE IRISHMEN, the sci-fi/action/superhero showdown AVENGERS: ENDGAME, and Doug Liman’s CHAOS WALKING, co-written by Charlie Kaufman.

Kryshan Randel is a directing instructor at InFocus Film School. 

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Vancouver’s animation and visual effects market is a growing industry. Year after year you will see more and more films being produced in Hollywood North, many of which feature VFX or digital animation. There is a lot of career opportunity within the field, and the numbers keep growing. Vancouver is already home to some of the biggest animation studios in the film industry today, and smaller ones continue popping up as demand increases.


If you want to begin a career in Animation, 3D Animation, or Visual Effects, here are some Vancouver based companies you should look into.




One of the biggest of Vancouver’s various studios. They handle both feature animation as well as VFX, and have helped make some huge titles including: Guardians of the Galaxy, Spiderman: Homecoming, Suicide Squad, Hotel Transylvania, the Smurfs, the Angry Birds Movie, Alice: Through the Looking Glass, and many more!


Upcoming: Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse, Smallfoot




Aside from their work in 3D Animation, Bardel is a top contender for Vancouver’s classical animation market. They have worked with some of animation’s biggest names including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney, Warner Bros, and Dreamworks.


Classical Animation: Rick and Morty, Teen Titans Go!, Harmonquest


3D Animation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Puss in Boots, Dinotrux




ILM is a visual effects studio with an expansive and impressive resume. Their VFX has graced films such as Skyscraper, Ant Man and the Wasp, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, and many, many more! Aside from VFX, ILM also handles concept art and visual development.


Upcoming: Captain Marvel, Bumblebee, Aquaman




MPC is a massive company that covers film, advertisements, and much more.  With studios all over the globe, including Vancouver, Montreal, London, New York, LA, Amsterdam, Shanghai, and Bangalore, MPC is responsible for blockbusters such as Wonder Woman, Justice League, and the new Mummy starring Tom Cruise.


Upcoming: The Lion King, Shazam!, Godzilla: King of the Monsters




Formerly known as Mainframe Entertainment, Rainmaker Studios is responsible for some of the most nostalgia inducing 3D animated shows your mind can fathom. Running for a little over 20 years, Rainmaker developed shows such as the original Reboot, Beast Wars, as well as one of the many Spider-Man series. They also dipped their fingers in feature-film with the video-game based Ratchet & Clank, Escape from Planet Earth, and the WWE collaboration Surf’s Up 2: Wavemania.


Upcoming: Reboot: the Guardian Code, Spy Kids: Mission Control




Imagine Engine is a world-class VFX studio whose portfolio features films like Deadpool, Jurassic Park: the Lost World, District 9, Chappie, and so many more. The company has been around since 1995, and is considered one of the top studios in Vancouver.


Upcoming: Crimes of Grindelwald, Kin, Sacred Lies




Titmouse is a full-service animation studio. With locations in Vancouver, LA, and New York, Titmouse has worked with companies such as Adult Swim, Nike, Netflix, and many more. The studio makes lots of content for mature audiences, creating shows like Big Mouth, Metalocalypse, and Son Of Zorn. Titmouse has also made feature films, music videos, virtual reality, commercials, and even worked on some titles in the Guitar Hero video game series.


Upcoming: T.O.T.S, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Foxy Trotter




Zoic is a digital FX studio with locations in Vancouver, New York, and L.A.. They have great experience working in television, film, and advertising. They also dabble in video gaming and virtual reality.


Most Recent: The Adventures of Sabrina, Avengers: Age of Ultron




Atomic Cartoons is a full service animation studio that has been around since 1999. They have worked on shows such as Atomic Betty, Counterfeit Cat, Johnny Test, World of Quest, and many more.


Most Recent: Princess Wear Pants, 101 Dalmation Street, Super Dinosaur




Founded in 1989, Stargate specializes in digital production and special effects. Stargate Studios has seven major studios all across the globe. Locations include Vancouver, Toronto, L.A., Atlanta, plus international countries such as Malta, Germany, and India.


Most Recent: The Happy-Time Murders, Black Klansman, NCIS, The Walking Dead


If you’re interested in InFocus Film School’s 3D Animation & Visual Effects or Compositing for VFX programs visit for more information.

VIFF 2018 films top 10 ten

by Johnny Papan


The Vancouver International Film Festival has been showing the latest and greatest of homegrown and international cinema since 1982.


This year’s festival runs from September 27 through to October 12, utilizing ten of Vancouver’s finest venues including the Orpheum, Rio, and Vancouver Playhouse to showcase some of the world’s most anticipated upcoming films.


With an Official Selection spanning several genres from all over the globe, this year’s VIFF is not one to miss out on. Out of the many great films to choose from, here are our top 10 picks for VIFF 2018.

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Animals in Film Leo the MGM Lion

Leo the MGM Lion


Who doesn’t love animals in film? Whether to delight or to scare, animals have played some of the most iconic roles. Where would we be without Lassie or Airbud? Or the nameless horde in Birds?


So let’s say your script includes animals. You can’t expect them to act like your human actors and likewise can’t expect to treat them as such. The rules surrounding animal performers can seem daunting at first, but this guide will break filming with animals down into a manageable process.


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women in film female filmmakers

by Petar Petrov


When people think of successful women in the film industry, the first image that comes to mind is probably something along the lines of a talented actress which is like a robust tool in the hands of a master director. And even though that’s a vocation many would kill for, women filmmakers have long shown women are not only capable of being a film’s driving force, but in fact, they can drive it to places many men would have a hard time reaching.


Here is our selection of the top 5 women filmmakers:

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Oscars 2018 Nominees Director great gerwig guillermo del toro jordan peele

By Johnny Papan


The Academy Awards were created to recognize excellence in the hard-working world of cinema. Embarking on its record 90th ceremony this year, the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California will be hosting the movie industry’s brightest stars as they walk the red carpet in hopes of capturing that illustrious golden Oscar-statue. The Oscars bring attention to every aspect of film—from story to technical and creative execution—and give everyone from the director to the (usually under-recognized) sound editor a chance for well-deserved recognition.


This year features an eclectic mixture of cinematic stylings from directors, writers, actors, cinematographers and film crews from all walks of life. Hollywood blockbusters are in competition with indie-darlings, creating intrigue for those who want to know whom the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences deems the most deserving of the Oscar.


Three filmmakers are in a special spotlight this year, as their visions as both writer and director have also put each of their films in contention for best picture, each completely unique from one another. Guillermo del Toro, Greta Gerwig, and Jordan Peele have captained three of the most talked about films of the last year. It’s no surprise they’re all up for the same three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Director. Here is a comparison of the trio.

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how to write romance romantic film titanic

by Johnny Papan


Ahh, Valentine’s Day. A time dedicated to all the lovers out there, making things special for “just us.” Moments are filled with candle-lit dinners, flowers, chocolate gifts, and, for the last few years, watching the newest installment of the Fifty Shades series, leading to a sales boost in adult shops across the country.


Watching a romantic film is one of the most popular choices among young couples for a Valentine’s Day date. They fulfill the fantasies we often can only dream of experiencing, which is why romance has become an integral part of cinema. Main focus or subplot, the element of love has found a place in almost every movie of any genre.


So what makes a romantic film? Is it merely a tale of two beings looking into each others eyes and falling into an embrace? If it’s not that easy in reality, it certainly can’t be that easy in film.


Most lovey-dovies follow similar structures that help us as an audience connect and fall into the journey of our heartfelt characters. In order for a romance film to work, we need a simple ingredient: characters that we want to be together in the end.


Here’s how you can write a romance that pulls on the heartstrings.

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