InFocus Film School Blog


Want to a career as a director but do not know how to get there? Here are eight directing tips from award-winning filmmaker James Genn.

By: Sophia Lin

One of the most highly coveted jobs in the film industry is none other than the top job on set: directing. The remarkable level of creativity, the expression of personal vision, and the opportunity for collaborative leadership are just a few of the numerous aspects that make many dream of having a career as a director.


For student filmmakers, however, it can be an aspiration that seems daunting, or simply too far off. That’s one of the many myths we’ll debunk here — anyone who sets their mind to it can direct. But, the more advice and insight you can gain, the better off you’ll be to set forth on the unique, enthralling path that a career as a director offers.


So take it from award-winning Canadian director James Genn, as he extends his most essential tips for directing both film and TV, across a diverse range of genres from comedy to horror. The recipient of Genie Award, Gemini Award, and Canadian Screen Award nominations, his work has been screened at festivals all around the world, including the Toronto International Film Festival. Most recently, he’s directed episodic TV content for the likes of Disney+, Hulu, and CBC.


Below, find nuanced, personal tips from a director who has not only had over decades of directing experience, but has created and continues to create some of the finest work in Canada and beyond. Keep reading to see how you can start your career as a director and make fantastic films. 

InFocus Film School Film Program

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1. Focus on Your Work

Filmmakers often find that they have to surreptitiously juggle two worlds: the purely creative facets of film and the unavoidable business side of the industry. Those who focus on a love of the craft and nurture a singular mission to create exceptional work, notes Genn, are the ones who truly do well.


As he emphasizes, “The agent doesn’t come before the work. Your job is to do work — do great work — and do the best you can and learn from your mistakes. Eventually, when your work starts getting seen by people and it reaches a certain level, then, trust me, the agents will come to you.”

2. Connect with the Audience

“When you’re working on a moment to moment, beat to beat, choice by choice basis, it’s really about how you are connecting to an audience,” says Genn. “How are you communicating ideas to an audience and making them feel something?”


The object of directing can be manifold, but one of the most important aims should be human connection. Though this certainly can demand a delicate counterbalance with personal and artistic expression, serving the audience should remain a staple of your work.


“As I’ve grown and matured as a director, it’s switched to becoming not about an expression of yourself, but about communicating ideas to somebody else. And the audience is first,” he adds.

A Career as a Director: 8 Tips on Directing from Filmmaker James Genn

3. Build Long-Lasting Relationships

As the saying goes, Hollywood is built on relationships. And that couldn’t be closer to the truth. Genn has maintained a close, career-long relationship with his first agent, who remains his agent still to this day. 


“The one thing I can’t stress enough is that you build relationships and you stick to them,” he advises. “Your whole career is about relationship building. The people that you meet along the way and the type of vibe you bring to your work. Make that good and enjoyable for people, and they’ll keep calling you.”

4. Be Tenacious

“The tenacity worked. It took a long time, but eventually, I had done enough work that people had to listen to me. I was there, I hadn’t gone away,” Genn reflects.


In a fast-changing, ever-growing industry like film, staying tenacious is a key quality that leads to success. The name of the game is to keep at it — start out by volunteering on sets and working as a PA, and remain steadfast as you work your way up the ladder.


He adds, “The people who know how to communicate well, collaborate well, understand other people’s needs, and respect the value of every single person working on the crew and the cast equally — those are the people who are going to do really well.”

A Career as a Director: 8 Tips on Directing from Filmmaker James Genn

5. Take Responsibility

When it comes to responsibility, the stance a director has can have ripple effects across the entire cast and crew. This sets the tone for collaboration and interaction on set. As a result, a shift in mindset can be the crucial, defining difference between those who make it and those who don’t. 


“The great directors I know, they take responsibility for everything they do,” Genn reveals. “They don’t sit around blaming the PA because they’ve broken something and they can’t get their shot. Everything that they do is their responsibility, no matter what the circumstances are. And they take that responsibility very personally. That’s how their work goes from being just work to being exceptional work.”

6. Manage Your Stress

“As a director, you have to live and die by decisions you’re making all day long,” Genn discloses. “It’s the stress of knowing that if you’re trying to shoot too much for the scene in the morning, then the scene you’re going to shoot in the afternoon, you’re going to rush the actors or you’re going to have to cut the shots down. So on a macro level, you really have to learn to manage your stress very well.”


Directing involves decisive leadership and vision, and often, many don’t fully consider the stress that may come with that. The key, however, is to decide and let it go. As Genn advises, “Don’t fuss about the things you can’t control and work very hard on the things that you can.”

A Career as a Director: 8 Tips on Directing from Filmmaker James Genn

7. Embrace Challenges

Pursuing a career as a director can sometimes feel like a great leap of faith. However, the secret to overcoming this lies right within you. Genn’s advice is, with your passion as your guide, wholeheartedly embrace the challenges that come your way. 


“When you’re on a film crew at any level and you look around you, you see a lot of people that are there for the same reasons you are. And we connect to that. It’s a pretty hard thing to resist,” he explains. “You’ll sacrifice a lot of things in your life, including the daunting feeling of it, the challenge of it, because the reward of it is so great and the work that you do is so interesting. If it was too easy, it wouldn’t be quite as fun, right?”

8. Dedicate Yourself To A Career As A Director

“There’s a big difference between being able to just direct something and being able to direct something exceptional. And making something stand out takes a tremendous amount of effort and work,” Genn remarks. “It takes you sitting down at home and imagining ten different ways that some single scene, or beat, or moment in something you’re making can be done.”


Dedication is known to separate the great from the ordinary, and directing is no different. The amount of sheer hard work and thought you put into your craft will show. Therefore, the more you put in, the better.


He concludes, “Your job is to make things work at all costs. You find a way to apply your talents to a variety of genres, a variety of voices, and you learn how to do it better than anyone else.”

A Career as a Director: 8 Tips on Directing from Filmmaker James Genn


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parks and recreation writer norm hiscock talks about being a comedy screenwriter

Wondering if screenwriting is for you? Get to know Canadian screenwriter Norm Hiscock writer for Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine!

parks and recreation writer norm hiscock talks about being a comedy screenwriter

By: Kennedy Randall

Screenwriting is a hugely challenging and exciting profession. The writers play an essential role in any project that you see on screen. They are the brains behind the story that is making you feel emotion. Comedy writers are tasked with the difficult task of making diverse audiences laugh at the same program.


Norm Hiscock is an Emmy Award winning screenwriter who has written episodes for some of the funniest TV comedies like Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Saturday Night Live, King of the Hill and many more. As well, he has dabbled in directing and producing on many of these series. This experience has given him incredible insider knowledge of the film industry that he will be sharing with InFocus during his “How to Develop A Comedy Series” masterclass with InFocus Film School.

Click here to register!

Norm Hiscock grew up in Montreal, Quebec. At a young age, he found his inspiration to become a screenwriter by watching sitcoms and sketch shows while he was growing up. Sketch comedy consists of short amusing scenes or vignettes and he wanted to know more about the people who wrote the shows 


“Even though I didn’t really understand what a writer did, it just seemed cool that creatively the script was the blueprint and this sparked other people’s imagination,” he says.


His first writing job was on the Canadian sketch show Kids In The Hall, which was a mix of short films and taped live in front of an audience. When Kids In The Hall was done, the producer from the show, Lorne Michaels, brought Hiscock over to write for Saturday Night Live with him which was a huge accomplishment in his career.


After working on so many award winning shows, Hiscock has learned many valuable lessons while on set. In 1999, Norm Hiscock won the “Outstanding Animated Program” Emmy Award for working as a producer and writer on King of The Hill. 


“I learned how to write for different kinds of comedy voices and the importance of collaboration,” he says. “King of the Hill also taught me what elements contribute to a good story and how to fully develop characters, even if they are animated.”  


On Parks and Recreation, Hiscock found keeping a set loose and fun was important to the experience of shooting Parks and Recreation. Working with Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman) would do that! 


“On the set of Parks and Recreation, including the actors in the development of the characters on set was very important to the story overall” he added. 

Parks And Recreation HD Wallpaper | Background Image | 1920x1080

Other than being a good writer and having a good story to tell, a screenwriter should feel comfortable rewriting. 


“Rewriting is the most important skill and a writer should not be afraid of doing this,” he says. “By rewriting you can sharpen the focus of the story and layer it through character.” 


Norm Hiscock will be sharing his wisdom and much more as a guest speaker at InFocus Film School’s three public masterclass seminars from April and July. Norm Hiscock is looking forward to talking about screenwriting with those looking to take their storytelling skills to the next level. 



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How to use a walkie on set a complete guide
Wondering how to use a walkie? Keep reading for our complete guide on using your walkie on set like a pro!
How to use a walkie on set a complete guide
By: Julia Courtenay

Almost everyone on set will be using a walkie and they are pretty simple to use. Compared to a Smart Phone, they are child’s play – you press the button to speak, you take your finger off the button to listen.  But on set, this technical simplicity is offset by specific etiquette and language regarding their use, which can take some getting use to. Not knowing the protocols can result in embarrassing rookie mistakes, poor communication and will make you look unprofessional.  So here’s a quick primer on how to use a walkie like a pro:

First, something to keep in mind: When directing, Clint Eastwood’s sets are very calm and orderly. This is because Eastwood once attended a White House dinner and had been impressed by the barely audible use of walkies by the Secret Service agents who were carrying out complex duties. Traditionally walkie use on set meant an incessant squawking of open mics but Eastwood pushed his crew to use them with the same subtly as those secret service agents making for a much quieter working environment.  So when using your walkie, think secret service! These devices are an extremely useful aid to effective communication, but they should NOT create additional noise or irritation.  An orderly, efficient set is the target here.

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The Elements of a Walkie

In addition to the walkie itself you will have a cord which incorporates a mic, speaker and earpiece. The standard earpiece is usually a simple ear plug but, if you are going to be in the business a while, it’s a good idea to purchase a personal molded earpiece, both for comfort and effectiveness. The standard ear plug blocks the ear completely meaning you can’t hear anything on that side of your head. The one-size fits all nature means it’s not particularly comfortable. Both those factors can be a significant irritant over a long and challenging working day.
how to use a walkie

Standard Ear Plug

A custom in-ear mold is preferable as it allows you to hear what is going on around you as well as the walkie chatter, and is usually a lot more comfortable.
how to use a walkie

Custom Ear Mold

How To Wear Your Walkie

Here’s the best way to wear your walkie: First plug in the cord, then use the cord to lower the device down the back of your shirt.  Attach the walkie to your belt where it feels comfortable. The ear piece end of the cable will be coming out of the top of your shirt back. Clip it to your collar,  then plug in the earpiece.  Having the cord under the back of your shirt stops it constantly getting snagged on gear and dragging the walkie off.
An even better idea is to use a chest harness. Over time the additional uneven weight of the walkie on your belt can effect posture and potentially damage your spine. Plus in cold weather a walkie on your belt becomes inaccessible under layers of thick clothing – it’s better for your back and much more easily accessible on your chest. These harnesses can be purchased from local gear suppliers or can be found online on Amazon etc (search: radio chest harness). As you continue getting used to your on set apparel and learning how to use a walkie, you will find what works the best for you!

Firing It Up

  1. Plug your headset into the walkie jack while the walkie is still turned off. 
  2. Your walkie has two dials on the top – an on/off/volume button and a channel dial. 
  3. Using the on/off/volume button, switch the walkie on and set the volume to around mid level (later adjust to the quietest volume that is workable for you).
  4. Check the channel button to ensure you are on channel one (or the channel you have been instructed to use)
  5. Press the speaker button on the cord, and carry out a walkie check, which will go something like this: “This is Steve, walkie check”.  Another crew member will respond back something like “Good check”  to confirm you can be heard.  Now everyone knows you are up and running!

How To Use A Walkie – Quick Tips

  • Never yell into the mic. Use a normal tone of voice to prevent hearing damage and major irritation to others!
  • Keep your own walkie volume as low as possible to avoid damaging your own hearing.
  • Avoid any unnecessary chatter on the walkie.  Keep your transmissions brief and to the point.  Remember when you talk, no one else can.
  • Wait a beat or two after pressing the mic button before you start to talk. There is a delay which will cut off your first words if you jump the gun.
  • When you want to call someone use your name first and their name second e.g.:   “Steve for Danny”,  They will respond back “Go for Danny”
  • When someone talks to you always acknowledge and repeat back the core of their request:  e.g. The AD asks you to move a location cone as it’s in shot, you will respond:  Copy that. Moving the cone”(so they know they been heard and heard correctly).
  • Avoid “eating the mic” i.e causing distortion by having the mic too close to your mouth or speaking too loudly.
  • Avoid “squelching” – that nasty blast of interference caused by two crew members trying to talk on their walkies at the same time – intensely annoying to others but, more importantly, neither person was heard. Another crew member will let you know it’s happened (you won’t hear it on your own walkie) . Start again, but one at a time.
  • If filming has started and you have just switched on your walkie, do not talk right away, wait and listen to see what’s going on. They may be in the middle of recording, and, trust me, you do not want to transmit during a take.
  • Keep your language entirely professional –  you don’t know who might be listening (public, children, location owner etc.).  Walkie channels are also monitored by the CRTC. If they deem you are using the walkies improperly they can shut down set communications.  You definitely don’t want to be responsible for that!
  • If you are going to be at a distance from set for a while, take a spare battery with you.
  • If you take a battery out of a charger put another one on to charge. This way, you keep a flow of charged batteries available.
how to use a walkie

Off or On?

There are sometimes when your walkie must be turned off when they are recording.
When the AD calls “rolling”
  • If you are inside the doors of the studio or location turn your walkie off to prevent accidental transmissions interfering with the sound recording. When the the AD calls “cut”turn it back on. (Even with a headset transmissions can still be audible and the walkie signals can interfere with sound)
  • If you are outside the doors but still close to the set keep your walkie turned down low but keep it on. This way any accidental transmission won’t be audible inside, but you can still hear what’s going on inside.
  •  If well beyond hearing distance of the set then just keep it at normal volume all the time.

Too Quiet?

If your walkie has gone unnaturally quiet and you haven’t heard any transmissions for a while there are a few possibilities:
  • Check you are on the right channel. You may have “bumped” channels on the dial (easy to do).
  • Your battery may be dead. A dying battery is usually heralded by a double beep when you press the speaker button.  The beeps are an unfamiliar “chirping” sound.  Change batteries immediately.
  • You may be out of range. Keep your phone on so they can still contact you, or come back into range, which ever is appropriate in the circumstances.

Which Channel?

The walkies are set up to operate across multiple channels.  Set operations will normally transmit on Channel 1 and the majority of the crew will be tuned into it. However, certain departments may be working on different channels because they need to have walkie conversations within their department which would be disruptive on Channel 1. Those channels are usually listed on the Call Sheet. But typically this is how most sets will assign the channels:
Channel 1:  The AD’s main communication link to the crew – this is how you will know what’s going on. Yes it’s OK for you to talk on Channel 1 but keep it very brief to allow the AD to keep things moving.
Channel 2: The Chat Channel.  If you need to have an occasional longer conversation with another crew member, then this channel is left open for that.
Channels 3 and 4: Usually assigned to grips and lighting for rigging large lighting set ups.
Channel 5: Usually assigned to locations for police road lock up.Channel 6: Usually assigned to transportation for the shuttle vehicle drivers
The above are typical, but may vary depending on departmental requirements and how many channels are available on the devices.
To ask a crew member to talk on another channel it follow this protocol:  “Danny, Go to 2” (or your chosen channel)
Danny will respond back “Copy that, switching to 2”

When you are done talking on on channel 2, then both of you will separately confirm “Switching back to 1” (or whichever channel you are heading back to)

Speak to Me! 

Here is some common walkie terminology that is essential when learning how to use a walkie:
  • Copy that: “I hear you” – it’s the standard acknowledgement that you have heard someone’s communication to you.
  • What’s your 20?:  Radio speak for “Where are you?”
  • 86 (an item) : Get rid of it e.g. “86 the car, it’s blocking the gate”
  • ETA : The familiar abbreviation for estimated time of arrival – how long?
  • Flying In: “I’m on my way”. It means you are en route, but not racing – safety first!
  • 10-1 or 10-100: Radio speak for bathroom break – “It’s Danny, I’m 10-100″ (we can expect Danny to be off radio for a few minutes)
  • Kill it: This means stop the noise they are referring to e.g. “Kill the air conditioning”. 


how to use a walkie on set

Don’t Do This! (Accidental Transmissions):

“Cueing” a walkie means that someone has pressed their talk button without being aware of it. This means they are accidentally transmitting (like pocket dialling a phone). It’s a serious issue as it effectively shuts down all walkie communications until they stop transmitting.

It can be caused by a number of things. Inadvertently something may be pressing against the walkie button (a bulky jacket or leaning against something etc.) Or the walkie button may be “sticky” and doesn’t release after being pressed, due to a spill or some matter has worked it’s way into the mechanism.  It can also sometimes be caused by plugging a headset into the jack when the walkie is already on (hence I mentioned above to plug the headset in before you switch the walkie on).

Cueing must be solved quickly as it can be extremely embarrassing for the person who is transmitting (imagine for a moment you go to the bathroom, drop your pants, your walkie is somewhere under there and accidentally gets switched on… it happens!  Or you are chatting to another crew member about what you did last night or who you did last night as your walkie presses against your chair back…). But your embarrassment is secondary to the fact that you are blocking all other transmissions and the set is at a standstill while they listen to all that.

To avoid cueing be aware of the condition and placement of your walkie. Plus if you are going to do or say anything that should be kept private, then let your supervisor know that you will be off walkie for those few moments.  If you hear someone else is cued, try and identify who it is and their location as quickly as possible. Find them and turn their walkie off until they can resolve the problem.

This may seem a lot to remember, but you will learn how to use a walkie pretty quickly. Because the rest of the crew will be using these protocols, and you will find it will soon become habit.

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How to get hired at a visual effects studio

Wondering how to get hired at a visual effects studio? Keep reading for five tips on how to break into the special effects industry.

How to get hired at a visual effects studio

By: Kennedy Randall

Visual effects are everywhere in the entertainment industry. From movies, television, video games, ads and even social media, visual effects artists are in high demand to create engaging visuals. Obviously, productions like blockbuster superhero movies have VFX but more and more smaller productions are incorporating special effects into their storytelling as well.

Beyond VFX’s ever-growing presence in entertainment, it is an industry that offers a creative outlet. If you are artist with a love for technology and an unstoppable imagination, it is the industry for you. If you want to work with like-minded individuals and pursue your creative dreams, keep reading for our steps on how to get hired at a visual effects studio

Compositing for Visual Effects | InFcous Film School

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

1.Enrol in a Visual Effects Course

VFX is an intricate skill that is always adapting and changing to the latest technology. The simplest way to get a handle on the latest CG software and digital art is by enrolling in a visual effects school or online tutorial. When looking for a VFX program, take some time to look at the instructors. If they are currently working in the industry, this means they will know the latest software like the back of their hand and set you up for success. As well, think about where your program will be located. Vancouver, for example, is a hot spot for VFX because of its large film production industry. Therefore, there are many studios that would be willing to take you on! Click here for the top 10 animation and VFX studios in Vancouver in 2021. From Imagine Engine to Zoic, there are so many opportunities in “Hollywood North!”

As well, having instructors that are involved in the industry will bode well for networking. If you work hard and impress your teachers in school, they might recommend you to their colleagues in the industry. These connections may ease your transition from school to working VFX artist. 

how to get hired at a special effects studio

2. Get Professional Experience

Once you’ve finished your program, the next step is to gain professional experience in the industry. Finding work in the VFX world can be hard right after school, but a willingness to work hard and move up in the ranks will always help you out! 

Junior positions are typical entry-level VFX roles. These are likely going to be your best bet. You will be attached to a particular team or department, like modelling or compositing. On this path, you will specialize quickly and work on projects right away. However, if applying for VFX roles is not panning out for you, apply for jobs at studios unrelated to VFX. Whether you become a runner, getting coffee and doing errands, or a production assistant, this is still a way of getting yourself into the industry and meeting people. Experience in the industry is what will lead you to your dream job. Take any opportunity to work hard, network, and keep learning in order to get there!


how to get hired at a visual effects studio

3. Perfect Your Demo Reel

Your demo reel is really how to get hired at a visual effects studio. If you are sending out your demo reel and nobody is getting back to you, it might be time to try and tune it up a bit. Only include your best work, it is a highlight reel, not an overview. Don’t add anything that doesn’t speak to your current level as an artist. Think about what your skills are and highlight them. What you are best at is likely what you would like to pursue at a visual effects studio, therefore put those front and centre.

On a more boring note, always include your name and contact information. Make it as easy as possible for the studio to contact you if they are interested. Double-check for errors, then check again! You could even reach out to instructors or peers to watch your demo reel for feedback and advice on how to improve it. 


how to get hired at a visual effects studio

4. Keep Learning

Because VFX is a popular industry, you should always try to keep a leg up on the competition. Taking an art class, whether it’s painting, sculpture, or illustration, may help you understand visual effects from a different perspective. Studying film or photography can help your creative mind flourish. 

While you are in this transition stage from school to professional VFX artist, continue learning. Learn more about the industry, try new techniques, and diversify. It is important to specialize in one sort of VFX, however, mastering multiple can make you far more attractive to a VFX studio than a one-trick pony.


5. How To Get Hired at a Visual Effects Studio? Be a Team Player

The last answer on how to get hired at a visual effects studio? A simple answer is to get along well with your team! Your job will primarily be to work with other artists on projects with a single vision. This means you will have to be ready to collaborate for long hours working with other creative minds. Therefore, be open to learning from others and growing together as artists in this field.

VFX programs are a great way to learn from your peers. By working with a small group of visual effects artists under the leadership of an instructor, it is very similar to the experience you will have at the studio. While in school, you will meet students that can be your partners one day professionally. Our film instructor David Michán has noted that the people he met while in school are the people he reaches out to if he needs a partner on a project. As well, if he is not available for a project, he will pass his peers’ names along instead! Being a team player will get you so far in any industry, especially VFX.

how to get hired at a visual effects studio

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Vancouver: A Hotspot for Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Do you have a story waiting to be told? This is your chance. We are offering a film school scholarship for the best pitch!

Whether you have a great film idea, concept art for 3D animation and visual effects characters, or a personal story and unique worldview you want to share, you can earn up to $10,000 off the price of tuition. With this film school scholarship, you will be studying in the heart of Canada’s film industry, Vancouver, British Columbia. 


how to pitch for a film school scholarshipClick here to learn more about our film school scholarship!

Examples of What You Can Pitch for a Film School Scholarship

Are you unsure what you should pitch? Here are some examples of different pitches you can prepare based on your program, however, you are not limited to only these. You can pitch whatever feels authentic to you! The main thing we are looking for is the drive and passion to succeed in this industry.

Film Production

  • Film or TV show idea (written or video)
  • Video or photography portfolio
  • Tell us about yourself (written or video)
  • Why do you want to be a filmmaker? (written or video)



  • Film or TV show idea pitch (written or video)
  • Film or TV show script (written)
  • Previous written works including books, short stories, poems, etc
  • Tell us about yourself (written or video)
  • Why do you want to be a screenwriter? (written or video)


3D Animation

  • 3D animated film or TV show idea pitch (written or video)
  • 3D animated character idea (written or drawn)
  • Sample drawings, sketches or digital art
  • Tell us about yourself (written or video)
  • Why do you want to be a 3D animator? (written or video)



  • Documentary or Doc Series show idea pitch (written or video)
  • Previous written works for non-fiction publishing including magazines, newspapers
  • Tell us about yourself (written or video)
  • Why do you want to be a documentary filmmaker? (written or video)


Visual Effects

  • Case study on a film or show with great VFX (written or video)
  • Sample drawings, sketches or digital art
  • Tell us about yourself (written or video)
  • Why do you want to be a VFX artist? (written or video)


Graphic Design

  • Graphics campaign you would do for a major brand (written or video)
  • Sample drawings, sketches or digital art
  • Tell us about yourself (written or video)
  • Why do you want to be a graphic designer? (written or video)


How to Make a Great Pitch

A great pitch is the key to getting your film made. It’s your chance to convince others the value of your project or idea. When pitching for your scholarship, get creative. Do you have previous work samples? Show us what you have. Do you have an excitable personality? Film yourself talking about your idea. Are you amazing at drawing or creating concept art? Or great at writing? You can do it all.


We want your pitch to be authentic to you. The scholarship recipients will be chosen based on their passion to grow in this industry and the potential we see in their creativity, storytelling and professionalism. 


At InFocus Film School, you will be part of a creative community. Not only are you learning from industry leaders who have worked on some of today’s most popular productions, but you will be surrounded by opportunity in this evolving industry post-graduation. There is a reason why Vancouver is called “Hollywood North”. If you want to learn more about InFocus and the Vancouver film industry, click here. We look forward to welcoming you into our family and support you from the day you enter our doors to long after you leave us!

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InFocus 3D Animation Program

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InFocus Compositing for VFX Program

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how to get hired at a 3d animation studio

Wondering how to get hired at a 3D animation studio? Here are 5 tips on how to get work in the 3D animation industry.

how to get hired at a 3d animation studio

By: Kennedy Randall

Animation is at the forefront of the entertainment industry. Now, more than ever before, studios need professionals who are well equipped for a fast-paced career in the field. From the film industry to video games, to social media, animation fills up much of our digital landscape. 


One of the big questions on many aspiring animators’ minds is how to get hired at a 3D animation studio. If you’ve been working hard in a 3D animation program and you’re trying to get into the animation game, we have 5 things to work on and to keep in mind when trying to get hired.

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

1. Get the Basics

3D Animation is a skill-based job. Naturally, this means you will have a certain level of expertise and familiarity with animation software. To get acquainted with software for animations, you will either need to enrol in an online course or enrol in a 3D animation degree program. In a degree program, you will have someone guiding you through the various animation tools like Blender & Adobe After Effects. After you get the basics down, you can begin dedicating yourself to your craft and polishing up these essential skills. Because animation is always changing, it is important to stay up to date on the industry standard. When thinking about how to get hired at a 3D animation studio, making sure you are well versed in the software they will be using is the first step to success.

2. Diversify

As an animator, you need to be able to draw. Having strong visual illustration skills will help you as an animator and make you more appealing to studios. With so many animators out there, studios nowadays will be more inclined to hire someone who has multiple skills. Being able to illustrate will help you out in your animation and against the competition.


Other skills to add to your repertoire would be graphic design and after-effects. Graphic designers are always needed in this digital era. Having a good eye for layouts and graphic design will prove useful when marketing yourself to studios. As well, most studios nowadays use After Effects, so having a concrete understanding and experience with it is essential.

3. Start Animating

Gaining experience is one of the most valuable things you can do for your career in any industry. Start working at any job you can get. If it’s not your dream studio, you will learn how professional animation studios work. If it is a studio you could see yourself working at forever, be prepared to start from the bottom and work your way up. Freelancing is also an option. The more animation you produce, the better your work will get. 

As well, by working with businesses, customers, and studios, you will gain a network of opportunities that can come in handy for the rest of your career. Networking is important throughout your career. Stay in touch with people you enjoyed working with in school. They might recommend you one day to their studio or put you in touch with someone who can help you.

how to get hired at a 3D animation studio

4. Portfolio Pieces

Now that you have graduated from a 3D animation program and have gained some experience in the industry, you will have many pieces to choose from. By taking up plenty of projects you will have an opportunity to show different talents to clients. When creating your portfolio make sure you are only showcasing your best work. The portfolio is an opportunity to visually talk to clients or studios on your behalf.


Making a website for your portfolio is extremely important in today’s day and age. It is a seamless way to always have your name and work out there. As well, as an animator, being able to create engaging websites is a plus, as your work speaks for itself!


5. Perfect Your Demo Reel

Your demo reel is the most important aspect when asking how to get hired at a 3D animation studio. A demo reel is composed of short videos where you put all your best moving and static images together. It is a highlight reel, showing studios how you can help them make the best animation possible. Make sure that you include your name and contact details on your demo reel so you are easily accessible. As well, putting your demo reel on your email correspondences and website is a great way to get your work out there. Bringing your demo reel to studios or sending it to them virtually is the most productive thing you can do to get hired at a 3D animation studio. By putting yourself out there and showing hard work, talent and creativity, you will increase your chances of getting hired.


Another tip is getting feedback and comments on your demo reel. Asking your professors, friends and colleagues on areas you can improve is extremely productive. A second, third, or even fourth set of eyes never hurts. Take the feedback critically and perfect your demo reel!

how to get hired at a 3d animation studio


Finding success in the 3D animation industry can be hard, but hard work, perseverance, and determination will bring creative work, attracting some of the best studios. Take these five tips on how to get hired at a 3D animation studio as a jumping off point for a successful career in the animation world.


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Six famous screenwriters who went to film school

Wondering if film school is right for you? Hear from 6 screenwriters who went to film school to learn what’s in it for you!

Six famous screenwriters who went to film school

By: Sophia Lin

Filmmakers tend to debate the decision to go to film school, speaking of hands-on skills, experience on-set, and more. However, this topic often goes largely untouched for another foundational population of people in the industry: screenwriters. While learning how to hold a camera or create a lighting setup seem like tangible, practical skills, honing the craft of writing can feel more abstract.


But take it from these 6 screenwriters who went to film school and have made a name for themselves writing innovative, outstanding screenplays. Time after time, their work has received critical acclaim. They have had some of the greatest directors vying to bring their creations to life. For many, film school opened their mind to the nuances and possibilities of the art of screenwriting. It was also an invaluable chance to get their foot in the door for others. 


Regardless, for these 6 screenwriters who went to film school, things certainly turned out quite well for them. They all started in the same place: as bright-eyed film students.

InFocus Film School Writing Program

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

1. Charlie Kaufman

New York University

One of the greatest American screenwriters of his generation, Kaufman is the mind behind staples such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the breakthrough Synecdoche, New York. For him, film school gave him his first break in the industry and kickstarted his professional network. 


While at NYU, he met fellow screenwriter Paul Proch, and the two wrote countless scripts and plays together. Soon, they found themselves writing comedic work for National Lampoon while working to get their scripts produced. Finally, in 1991, one of Kaufman’s spec scripts gained attention. From there, Kaufman found an agent, moved to LA, and has risen to the top of the screenwriting world.

6 Famous Screenwriters Who Went to Film School

2. Paul Schrader

University of California, Los Angeles

Schrader is an iconic name in film, best known as the scribe behind Raging Bull and Taxi Driver. His film school journey started unconventionally, when one summer he decided to take as many film classes as he could at Columbia. There, he met Pauline Kael, a prominent film critic, and began to consider a career in film. Kael helped Schrader get into UCLA and then set him up with a job as a newspaper critic.


While at UCLA, Schrader remembers seeing the film Pickpocket and notes that it formed his career path, educating him on the differing artistic views between filmmaking and film criticism. Fresh out of school, he leveraged his writing skills to secure positions at the Los Angeles Free Press and Cinema magazine. He subsequently fully turned to screenwriting, and in the 1970s, his Taxi Driver script was picked up by none other than Martin Scorsese.

6 Famous Screenwriters Who Went to Film School

3. Jane Campion

Australian Film, Television and Radio School

One of the buzziest films this awards season is The Power of the Dog, written and directed by Campion. While many may recall her previous standout feature The Piano, few know that Campion attended the Australian Film, Television and Radio School back in the 1980s to find her footing in the industry.

She credits film school with setting her free, giving her the chance to find herself through film. Learning how to express her energy, as she puts it, she began writing and shooting a series of short films. One of these was titled Peel, and upon submitting it to festivals, she won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes — and the rest is history. Today, she has plans to open up a “pop-up film school.” In this creative structure, she wishes to impart the film education she received to the next generation of screenwriters who went to film school.

6 Famous Screenwriters Who Went to Film School

4. M. Night Shyamalan

New York University

Most famous for writing The Sixth Sense and more recently, the Unbreakable Trilogy, Shyamalan got his start studying film at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Shyamalan has been enthralled with the medium of film since a young age. Film school provided him with the space to create without limits. 

While in school, he wrote his first of two early feature-length films, Praying With Anger. This led him to win the American Film Institute’s top prize for a debut film. Along with this huge accomplishment, he secured his first agent. The genre reinvention he explored in his first film, which put a twist in the classic coming-of-age tale, would sow the seeds of his radical screenplays down the line.

6 Famous Screenwriters Who Went to Film School

5. Steven Zaillian

San Francisco State University

One of the few people to truly master both screenwriting and directing is Steve Zaillian. He began pursuing his interest in the arts by enrolling in film at SFSU. Zaillian used his time in film school to explore, taking art department classes that crossed over with history of film and venturing into foreign cinema studies.


For him, film school hugely influenced him, creatively and personally. He recalls discovering neo-realist and French New Wave films, with films like The 400 Blows opening his eyes to the power of realism. These explorative forms of film education went on to shape his career, like many other screenwriters who went to film school, serving as inspiration for the gritty screenplay Gangs of New York and his standout Academy Award-winning screenplay Schindler’s List.

6 Famous Screenwriters Who Went to Film School

6. Diablo Cody

University of Iowa

As a female screenwriter in a male-dominated industry, Cody began her career by breaking boundaries. She enrolled in a media degree at the University of Iowa. While taking classes, began her writing career — though from the unorthodox realm of blogging. With this, she honed crucial storytelling skills, as well as developed her signature style of quick wit and biting sarcasm.

Noting that her degree provided her with a safety net, she freely moved between jobs in radio and advertising. But soon, she dove into screenwriting — and a few months later, came out with her first feature-length screenplay titled Juno. This would go on to win Cody nearly every major screenwriting award, her offbeat, no-holds-barred style having won over critics and audiences alike.

6 Famous Screenwriters Who Went to Film School



Overall, these six screenwriters who went to film school have had exceptional careers that started their first day in the classroom. By going to film school, you have a chance to hone your storytelling skills. After getting a film education, you can make the stories you envision come to life. Storytelling is a sort of magic and film school can help you develop it.


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graduation screenings film production 56

graduation screenings film production 56

With another semester of talented filmmakers heading out of InFocus’s doors into the film industry, we are delighted to announce our graduation screenings for Film Production 56! From comedy to drama, thrillers and murder mysteries, there will be something for every film fanatic. We can not wait to see their hard work on the big screen. We are so proud of our film production students and excited to see where their future takes them.

Join us on March 2nd and 6:30PST at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts to view their grad films. Click here to RSVP!


The Films

Era of Genius

Written and Directed by Mysa Barasneh


The Shearers Coat

Written and Directed by Connor Aubrecht



Written and Directed by Jonas Pascual


Between the Crossroads

Directed by Levi Plessis

Written by Calvin Wong


I Love Ya! Goodbye!

Written and Directed by Robin Moir


Odd Job

Directed by Riel Pearce

Written by Levi Plessis


Wind of Hell

Directed by Nessie Blanes

Written by Mysa Barasneh



Directed by Aidan Tong


Memories in a Dream

Written and Directed by Jelica Rojas


The Last Scene

Written and Directed by Mark Fogwe


The Milkman

Written and Directed by Alex Richmond



Directed by Nessie Blanes


Jonathan Castillo – “Master of Ghosts”

Directed by Nuray Sahin


Kapa Arkieh – “Unfamiliar”

Directed by Calvin Wong


Learn more about our Film Production program.

How to become a filmmaker after film school

Wondering how to become a filmmaker after film school? Here are five tips from film director and InFocus instructor David Michán on developing in the film industry.

How to become a filmmaker after film school

By: Kennedy Randall

The journey to becoming a filmmaker is not always an easy one. I sat down with David Michán to hear about his life-long love of filmmaking, teaching, and learning. Michán grew up in Mexico and has been drawn to filmmaking ever since he was in middle school. When I asked him what made him decide to become a filmmaker, he has know it was his destiny since he was twelve years old. Michán said, “I was already doing storyboards about my friends in class and putting them into ‘movies’.” His savvy eye started young; if his friends paid him a nickel, he would tell them how his story would end – “everybody wanted to know if they were the hero who saved the day.” Attracted to stories and films from a young age, he always knew he wanted to pursue filmmaking. 

The day after graduating from his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Science, he took a chance and flew to Los Angeles. This is where his filmmaking career began; where determination, hard work and creativity have led him to a successful career in film. Keep reading for five tips from award-winning film director David Michán on how to become a filmmaker after film school.

InFocus Film School Film Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

1. Get The Basics

When David first made his way to Los Angeles after getting his bachelor’s degree, he was determined to jump right into the film industry. Los Angeles has some of the best filmmakers in the world, and he wanted to “learn from the best.” He worked hard for five years in LA and tried out many roles on set. Michán wanted to reach his dream of directing films and this was hard to do without the basics of film school. Rodrigo Prieto, alumni of Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, recommended that Michán go back to school and gain the theory, history, principles, and other knowledge that film school provides. 

He decided to go back to school and attend Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica to gain the skills he was missing. Film school perfectly complemented his experience on set, completing “the knowledge circle.” Mixing real world experience with practical education of film school creates a well rounded filmmaker and opens up your potential in the industry. After getting the basics, David found it easier to pursue directing in the film industry.

How to Become a Filmmaker After Film School

2. Network

Film school teaches you the basics of filmmaking, but beyond that, you gain a network of friends and coworkers. Michán highlighted the importance of networking in film school, saying “the friends you work with in school are the friends you are going to work with in the future.” He has been working with a friend from film school across the globe. For fifteen years, he calls him whenever he has a new project. 

Keeping in contact socially and professionally is another important part of networking. Keeping your ears open to oppurtunity will help you become a filmmaker after film school. Michán said that if he can’t do a job, he will pass it along to the people he keeps in contact with from film school and vice versa. By exchanging work, experience, and passions, after film school, you can continue learning and growing from your classmates.

3. Work Your Way Up to Become a Filmmaker After Film School

When I asked Michán whether it was difficult to make a name for himself in the film industry after school, he replied, “it was no easy task and it still isn’t.” Michán says “You have to be very proactive in the film industry … go and look for opportunities after you graduate.” You also have to be willing to start from the bottom, which can be hard for the ego, especially after finishing a degree!


Michán took a film he made during his undergrad to production agencies in LA, but nothing panned out. However, the companies saw the drive and passion in Michán and offered him a production assistant role on set. He saw this as a chance to learn how things functioned on set and learn as much as he could. He would ask to be closer to the director so he could hear what the director was saying. The production company saw that Michán was committed and wanted to work hard. They promoted him, eventually to second assistant director. Being open to starting from the bottom and working your way up is important when you become a filmmaker after film school.

How to Become a Filmmaker After Film School

4. Keep Diversifying

In an industry like film, there’s always more to learn and expand your knowledge. After getting a bachelor’s degree in Science and Communication, years of on-set experience in Los Angeles, and a degree from one of the top film schools, Michán still makes it a priority to diversify his skill set. He saw special effects becoming more common in film and he decided to learn more about them. He came to Vancouver, Hollywood North, to learn more about VFX and is involved on many special effects teams. By learning another skill that is becoming valuable in the industry, Michán put himself one step ahead of other directors.


As well, when you are a film director, your hours are not always stable. This gives you a lot of time to learn new skills. Michán said that in between projects, he focuses on writing his script for his upcoming feature film. He also brushed up on other skills useful for filmmaking like photography.

How to Become a Filmmaker after Film School

5. Always Listen

“Listen to your teachers… you don’t go from crawling to running a marathon,” Michán said with a laugh. When we were talking about the most valuable lessons he learned from film school he reflected on being a young aspiring filmmaker. When you are young, believe you know more than anyone else and that nothing can stop you. You want to just rush right into your dreams. Sometimes, when teachers tell you to slow down and be patient, it seems like a waste of time. But it is important to learn the basics and follow steps to become a filmmaker. Teachers are there to guide you with their experience, not cut your creative mind.

How to Become A Filmmaker After Filmschool

Lucky for us, we now have David as an instructor on our team to guide our students to their dreams! Michán finds teaching to be extremely rewarding because he gets to “motivate new students to create.” His love for the film industry is unmatched and finds it rewarding to inspire others. By teaching, he gives back the magic that his teachers have inspired him in. David said that the magic of filmmaking lies in the power we have to transform something from paper to pictures and shares that everyday with our students. We hope that these five tips on how to become a filmmaker after film school help you find your magical place in the film industry.


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Five paths to success after graduating film school

Wondering what to do next after film school? Here are 5 different paths our students have taken to success in the film industry.

Five paths to success after graduating film school

By: Kennedy Randall

You’ve studied the in’s and out’s of filmmaking and honed your creative skills. You have the rest of your career ahead of you in a constantly evolving and growing industry. But deciding what path to take to success after film school is a big choice. There are many different career paths you could take. Becoming your own boss by producing your own films or freelancing is a popular one. You could also join the best in the industry and work on blockbuster sets. Whichever path you choose, success is just around the corner. We took a look at some of what our InFocus alumni have done after film school to lay out five different paths to success in the film industry.

InFocus Film School Film Program

Click here to learn more about InFocus Film School’s Film Production Program!

1. Produce A Feature Film

For an emerging filmmaker, producing your own feature films is one of the most exciting prospects to take in the film industry. Though a lot of work, producing and directing your own movie is incredibly thrilling and fulfilling as you have greater control over the creation of your film. Having full creative control is one of the best ways to find your voice as a filmmaker and it is a common path that our students take after film school. 

However, creating your own feature film can be daunting. But no project is ever too small! There is no need to spend the big bucks on your film. Use your friends or classmates as cast and crew, your house as set, and rent equipment to make your ideas come to life. If you are looking for more tips on how to write a low-budget feature film, check out this article

Luckily for you, after film school you graduate with plenty of ideas that you can turn into a feature-length film. If you are struggling to come up with an idea for your film, take one of your favourite short films from class and expand the story. Add more characters and plot – then you’ve got yourself a feature film!

2. Direct Music Videos or Advertisements

Five Paths to Success After Film School

Although best-known for his Oscar winning Dramas, critically acclaimed director Martin Scorsese often dabbles in directing commercials. Many of our students take his lead, getting experience on other sets before jumping right into producing feature films. Directing music videos or advertisements is a great way to get hands-on experience in the industry and make connections. Getting comfortable using a wide variety of equipment is a valuable experience for an emerging filmmaker. Adding different experiments to your CV is always a good idea!

As well, learning how to take someone’s vision and create a film is an extremely important skill in the film industry. It isn’t always going to be your vision you have to follow but often someone else’s. Listening to a band or artist’s creative direction on the set of a music video is a great opportunity to learn how to take direction and produce something for the client. Many of our students take this path this after film school. Check out this epic music video by Julie Gomez that she made while in our InFocus Film Production Program! 

3. Work on BlockBuster Film Sets

Five Paths to Success After Film School

Finding a job on set is one of the most common paths our graduates take. Being in Vancouver, AKA Hollywood North, there are many production companies in our neighbourhood. Every year we have hundreds of films that shooting in our backyard. InFocus students have gone on to work with big networks and companies like Disney, Marvel, Hallmark, Netflix and Warner Brothers after film school. As well, with so many TV shows being filmed in Vancouver, this is a great option. Finding a job on a TV set ensures steady work as production time is consistent. Students have worked on BatWoman, Yellowjackets, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and many more!

After film school not only will you have the skills needed to land a job on set but strong connections with fellow students and teachers that will help you find these opportunities. Your teachers may also get wind of a production coming to your city and recommend their students.

4. Take Your Projects After Film School to Festivals

As we mentioned before, after film school you end up with an arsenal of great ideas. While in film school, many students submit their films to film festivals. This should not stop after you graduate! It is sometimes worthwhile to reshoot or expand your initial film if there were any suggestions from your professors or peers to improve the film. You can take your passion projects to festivals to gain recognition and start your filmmaking career.

Our students have produced many short films that have gone on to win awards at festivals both in Vancouver and abroad. By submitting to as many as possible, you get your film and your name out there in the industry. This is valuable for making connections, meeting fellow filmmakers to partner with one day, and gaining professional experience.

5. Freelancing

Five Paths to Success After Film School

If you aren’t sure what path you want to take after film school, freelancing is a great choice. Being a freelancer can offer you so much freedom and flexibility. With potentially a new location every day, filled with new people, your job becomes a way to network and meet other film professionals. 

It is important to have a strong portfolio to show potential clients. Using your projects from film school to show off your editing, videography, and camera work is a great place to start. Being your own boss means you get to say no to the projects that don’t appeal to you and only focus on the ones you want to work on.


Overall, there are so many different paths you can take after film school. When you leave film school, it is important to reflect on what you enjoyed the most and tailor your career path to help you achieve your dreams. Stay in touch with your classmates and teachers to continue connecting and collaborating throughout your career. Many of our students continue to work on films together and have made live-long friendships. Wherever you want end up, use the skills that you learned and the portfolio projects you made to help you on your professional path.


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