InFocus Film School Blog

 

By Felicity Flesher

 

Coinciding with the celebration of InFocus Film School’s 10th anniversary, the Vancouver school is launching a brand-new Advanced Documentary Program for experienced filmmakers. Beginning in Fall 2021, the diploma program will nurture creative professionals through three terms from story incubation to finalized product.

In January 2010, InFocus opened its doors to the public with only one program offering: documentary. When InFocus Executive Director Steven Rosenberg founded the school, he thought, “There has never been an easier time to make documentaries, all you need is a camera and editing software. And of course, you need mentorship to know how to tease a story out of the ideas that you have.”

For the first few years, the school was a small albeit burgeoning non-profit, but over time, students emerged with great talent supported by committed instructors dedicated to helping their students get their foot in the industry door. Alumni have gone on to pursue prosperous careers in the entertainment industry garnering awards for their independent features at prestigious film festivals across the globe and joining the teams of big budget productions in Vancouver, one of the top film centres across the world.

As the school expanded to become Vancouver’s top cinematic arts training institution, its original documentary program was absorbed into its film production program. What started as one part-time program is now seven full-time programs with an ever-increasing reach. Now Rosenberg is hoping to cultivate that talent with even greater ideas and productions.

In line with InFocus’s emphasis on superior hands-on learning, the new Advanced Documentary Program will focus on documentary filmmaking and career skills beyond theory and basics.

“You might not come to learn how to turn on a camera because, at the end of the day, we have a lot of amazing technicians and we can put a budget behind those people. If you come to our program with a feature idea and access to a really great story and archival footage, you can incubate that story in the first six months,” Rosenberg says. “You start with a story treatment, then a sizzle reel, and then you go in front of a pitch panel. We bring in television and feature documentary filmmakers to evaluate: does this story have legs to make it? Then, in the last six months, we pair you up with a shooter from our production program and a budget and you shoot and edit a pilot or long-form documentary that will eventually become a feature.”

InFocus Film School Advanced Documentary Program

The pitch panel will be an essential part of the program. Students will pitch their projects to a select group of high-level producers and studio representatives who will help steer their ideas in the right direction and tailor their projects for the right distribution channels. With students emerging from the program with a fully realized project, multiple pitches, and a wealth of industry connections, they will be ready to approach studios’ growing demand for new content.

 

“With all the products out there, you would think the market would be saturated, but good stories hook the audience.”

 

Other aspects of the program will focus on short documentaries, cinema verité, biographical films, lifestyle series, and more, showcasing the range of artistic and commercial possibilities that documentary offers and providing students with a variety of marketable projects to take into the world.

The school is seeking experienced, dedicated students to act as a sort of cadre of artists in residence.

“You’ve got your skills down as a storyteller, you’ve been selected, now we want you to make something,” Rosenberg explains, “We need to have students that will give blood for their projects because to take a film from an idea to screen, it’s a lot of process. It’s thousands of decisions. And it’s a quite a journey unto itself.”

Become A Documentary Filmmaker at InFocus Film School

Applicants should be emerging or mid-career creative professionals with relevant post-secondary education or professional work as demonstrated by their application, personal statements, eligibility interview, and portfolio of their creative work. Rosenberg emphasizes that the ideal candidate for the program doesn’t necessarily have to have a documentary background but should have a “body of work in life with great samples they can put in writing or photography. We just want to see who that person is and that they’ve got a slate of doable ideas.”

Not only does the program offer a unique experience for the individual storyteller, Rosenberg says, “It’s a network experience. When you have a project, it’s in your head. And then you need someone to coach you through or cheer you on to finish it. There are a million reasons to give up, but when you have a very tight structure, that forces you to develop projects. It’s important for peer-to-peer support, so people in your group, they become your lifelong collaborators.”

Leading the new program is acclaimed award-winning documentary filmmaker Julia Ivanova. Her string of accomplishments include Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs, the Colin Low Best Canadian Documentary Award at DOXA and being screened at Sundance, IDFA, and the Chicago and LA film festivals. In 2019, Ivanova was honoured with the Focus On Retrospective by Hot Docs.

“Julia has been part of the school since day one and students rave about her,” Rosenberg says.

In addition, InFocus prides itself on its nearly 40 accomplished part-time professors who divide their time between instruction and professional industry work. Similarly, the mentors involved in the new Advanced Documentary Program will be highly statured members of the Canadian film industry.

InFocus Film School Advanced Documentary Program

What does the future hold for Rosenberg and InFocus? “I would like to see the kind of project that comes out of Sundance. I’d love to see us be an established studio where we’re able to produce projects as well as mentor students and be able to hire them as well. It’s like picking a baseball team. But you get to see them play for a year and see everybody on their good days and on their bad days. Then you can pick those people and have them as part of your studio.”

InFocus seeks to represent a diverse student body and offer opportunities to traditionally underserved communities. All of InFocus Film School’s programs are open to international students and loan options and scholarship opportunities may be available for qualified individuals.

Learn more about InFocus’s Advanced Documentary Program: https://infocusfilmschool.com/documentary-program/

A graphic design portfolio is crucial in landing you a job and getting new clients? Check out these tips! 


By Felicity Flesher 

 

Every aspiring and working graphic designer needs a stellar graphic design portfolio to showcase what he or she can bring to the table. Often, it is the first introduction to a potential client or employer and can reveal the designer’s personality, skillset, and creative eye. No matter how much of a Photoshop pro you may be, you need good pieces and you need to sell them as best you can to stand out against all of the highcalibre talent.  

With his twenty-year career in graphic design, Rod Kovacs, lead instructor at InFocus Film School’s Graphic & Digital Design Program, knows a few things about how to make your graphic design portfolio stand out.   

“The focus is always to put your best foot forward and put forward what you want to do,” Rod says about building the perfect graphic design portfolio. “It is really at the heart of marketing and graphic design: get the message across clearly, effectively, and quickly.”

Recognizing how valuable people’s time is, and how short their attention spans might be, this makes perfect sense. Bearing that in mind, here are a few further tips to help build a great graphic design portfolio: 

InFocus Film School Graphic and Digital Design Program | Learn More Read more

The VFX industry is thriving despite the pandemic. Dive into new opportunities and grow alongside the turning tides of this media revolution. 

 By Rachel Kim 

 

COVID-19 has massively altered the landscape of society and the VFX industry not only survived, it’s thriving in this brave new world. The animation and gaming sectors are experiencing a massive boom. Reaching for alternative methods of operation and production, different industries are pivoting towards digital avenues and spaces—and right into the VFX industry’s open arms.   

Studios are eager to hire artists to tackle the endless work rolling in. The VFX industry is evolving to meet the shifting needs of the world. There’s no better time than now for a VFX artist to dive into new opportunities and grow alongside the turning tides of this media revolution. 

Compositing for Visual Effects | InFcous Film School

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Compositing for Visual Effects Program

Read more

SEE WHY HOUDINI, A STATE OF THE ART ANIMATION AND VFX PIPELINE TOOL IS CHANGING THE GAME. 

Written by Rachel Kim

 

Explosions, earth-shattering destruction, glittering swirls of magic—these are the unavoidable spices of film and television. Today, much of these effects are created by a single tool—Houdini. But Houdini’s influence stretches even further. Though traditionally favoured by the effects departments, Houdini is a 3D and visual effects package that handles everything from modeling, animation, effects, character effects, lighting, and compositing. It has been embraced for its versatility and powerful capabilities.  

“Houdini is very much designed and conceived as an end-to-end pipeline tool,” says Luca Pataracchia, Senior Production Specialist at SideFX and an industry-experienced Houdini artist. SideFX is Houdini’s software developer.

Houdini had an ethos of embracing procedural generation since its inception in 1996. The software has firmly established itself as a powerhouse in the industry.

Houdini FX for Film + Games | InFocus Film School

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Houdini FX for Film + Games Program

Read more

what happens in a t.v. writer's room

THIS STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU SHOULD KNOW AND EXPECT WHEN BECOMING A WRITER FOR A TELEVISION SERIES!

what happens in a t.v. writer's room

Written by Johnny Papan

 

Characters, storylines and the direction of a series evolves with the team who writes it. Though the seed of a series may often come from the mind of one individual, it takes a team to plant, water and blossom a television show into what we see on screen. A show’s direction can completely change based on a number of factors. Characters originally intended to last through the finale are killed off two seasons early because an actor decides to move on, or two protagonists will develop an unplanned romance because it’s what the audience wants. 

In the hit mockumentary series The Office (U.S.) the show’s main couple Jim and Pam were written to break up in it’s final season. However, after audience backlash, the entire production backpedaled, quickly rewriting, reshooting and re-cutting episodes to mend the fictitious couple’s breaking bond as the season was already on-air, making sure to get the couple back together for a happy series finale. 

Although the screenwriter’s journey is a long and winding road, it’s never too late to start. Diving into the world of film and television later in life, InFocus Screenwriting Instructor Roslyn Muir bloomed into an actively working screenwriter who has penned feature films, television movies and, most recently, was part of the writer’s room for the CBS television series Ransom

Originally working for the series as an intern after being accepted into the Corus Writer’s Apprentice Program, Muir used the time to learn, network and push for a greater opportunity. 

After meticulously studying the show, rewatching old episodes and reading past scripts, Roslyn became a story editor for Ransom Season 3 and penned the ninth episode, “Broken Record”.

Now, Roslyn shares her experience of how a television show breaks down inside a writer’s room. 

Read more

top 10 animation and vfx studios in vancouver

WANT TO WORK IN A VFX OR ANIMATION STUDIO BUT DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START? SOME OF THE WORLD’S BEST STUDIOS ARE LOCATED IN VANCOUVER. CHECK OUT THE LIST BELOW!

top 10 animation and vfx studios in vancouver

 

Vancouver’s animation and visual effects market is a growing industry. Year after year you will see more films being produced in Hollywood North, many of which feature VFX or digital animation. 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, making career opportunities plentiful.

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

Learn more about InFocus Film School's 3D Animation and Visual Effects Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects Program

Read more

5 TIPS TO BREAK INTO THE 3D ANIMATION INDUSTRY

THE 3D ANIMATION INDUSTRY IS AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH. MORE CONTENT, MORE JOBS, MORE OPPORTUNITIES. ANIMATE YOUR FUTURE BY READING THIS LIST.

5 TIPS TO BREAK INTO THE 3D ANIMATION INDUSTRY

Written by Rachel Kim

From bio-diverse animals to alien robots to resurrections of people long past, 3D animators have brought to life our wildest imaginations of this world and beyond. 

Since Pixar’s breakthrough with Toy Story in 1995, 3D animation has quickly dominated our media. Just a cursory glance at the latest Hollywood blockbusters shows how much we depend on 3D animators to breathe life into these imagined worlds. As the industry’s growth skyrockets, the demand for 3D animators has never been greater.  

InFocus animation mentor Selman Kantarci has worked on several large-scale productions including Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog, Maleficent 2, Cats and more. He draws from his well of industry experience working at companies like MPC, Bardel Entertainment, and (currently) Method Studios to offer practical advice and encouragement to anyone hoping to build a career in 3D animation. 

 

Learn more about InFocus Film School's 3D Animation and Visual Effects Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s 3D Animation and Visual Effects Program

Read more

How to use drones a beginner's guide

In this drone beginner’s guide we cover everything from choosing which drone to buy, to figuring out relevant laws and regulations. You’ll also learn about keeping your drone in good condition and traveling with your drone.

How to use drones a beginner's guide

Written by Jenny Brown

This is a guest post from HobbyHelp.com. Click here for the original post. 

Read more

THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO BECOMING A GREAT VIDEO EDITOR FOR FILM, TELEVISION, AND ONLINE CONTENT.

Written by Rachel Kim

 

What makes good video editing?

This question is more pertinent than ever for everyone. Video-based social media platforms like Tik Tok and Byte, along with a host of mobile video editing apps, are encouraging an entire generation to become editors. As video content continues to reign supreme, the need for professional video and film editors is rising as well, with companies big and small trying to stand out from the crowd of user-generated content. 

So what is a video editor, exactly? A video or film editor is like a souped-up collage artist whose raw material (instead of magazines, photographs, and newspaper clippings) is footage.

The primary role of a video editor is to take all the footage that’s been recorded on set and assemble it in a way that best tells the story. An editor uses the properties of time, sound, and a variety of manipulation techniques to convey the narrative as seamlessly and accurately as possible.

 

https://vimeo.com/247242689

Read more

USING CLICHES WILL DISRUPT THE PUBLIC’S VIEW OF YOU AS AN ORIGINAL OR UNIQUE FILMMAKER. WE LIST 7 OF THE MOST COMMONLY USED FILM CLICHES AND GIVE YOU ALTERNATIVES TO AVOID USING THEM YOURSELF.

Written by Johnny Papan

 

Short films are as old as cinema itself. The Lumiere Brothers launched the motion picture phenomenon when they, for the first time in history, screened 10 of their short films to the public in 1895. At first short films were the only form of cinema being made. Most films didn’t exceed 10 minutes in length until the 1900s. The world’s first feature film, The Story of Kelly Gang, was released in 1906, 11 years after the Lumiere Brothers unveiled this groundbreaking new art form to the masses.

Today, short films are as prominent as ever. They’re a go-to launching pad for filmmakers and can be utilized as a proof of concept for longer films or to showcase an artist’s prowess in a quick and compact way. Thousands of short films are produced every year and production values can vary from cinematically exquisite to D.I.Y. home movies. That being said, regardless of the production budget, a strong, well-told story is what truly matters. 

With so many films being made every year, you’re bound to see similarities. However, some tropes cross the line of comparability and have become outright cliches over time. If you are a new filmmaker or film school student who wants to stand out amidst the sea of film festival submissions, here is our list of 7 cliches to avoid if you’re making a short film.

 

InFocus Film School Writing Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Writing for Film and Television Program!

Read more