Student Creatives: The Filmmaking Journey

By: Nadia Brophy

Across all creative industries, there is a journey artists must take to establish themselves, meet their personal goals and create content they are proud of.

Three film studies students at Ryerson University gave CanCulture a behind-the-scenes look into how their creative journeys have been progressing thus far. Students Tyler Hall, Hayden Salter and Julia Batista share how they got inspired to pursue filmmaking, the projects they have created and what they intend to do next in their careers.

Tyler Hall

 Photo: Submitted by Tyler Hall

Photo: Submitted by Tyler Hall

Tyler Hall’s filmmaking journey began with a fascination for storytelling, which first manifested during his childhood years. Throughout his youth, Hall’s mother ran a home daycare where himself and the children who attended would experiment with a dress-up box, creating several different kinds of characters and narratives using the variety of clothes. Hall would also play with action figures and make up stories about them, bringing the narratives to life as he played.

At age 10, Hall picked up his first video camera, opening himself up to a new world of storytelling. He would produce his first amateur film at age 16 which lead him to experiment with video editing. From that point on, Hall was inspired to continuing adding to his arsenal of filmmaking skills, including working with computer generated animation, which lead to his creation of 15 animated short films within a five year period.  

While Hall had always been a creative person himself, he attributes much of his inspiration to the people he grew up with. “I was surrounded by creatives growing up and was inspired by a lot of my friends and family to continue pursuing film,” said Hall.

He credits one of his close friends for introducing him to the world of editing, as throughout their friendship, he would observe his expertise in cutting video game footage together to create montages. He would also frequently attend the band practices and concerts of friends who were musicians, where he developed an acute understanding of rhythm and pacing that he believes “really paid off for film editing.”

 Photos taken by Bang Siaotong, submitted by Tyler Hall

Photos taken by Bang Siaotong, submitted by Tyler Hall

In 2017, Hall was accepted to the film studies program at Ryerson University where he would put his skills to use in several creative and collaborative projects, including his psychological thriller Nosebleed. In the roles of cinematographer, producer and editor, Hall was assigned to collaborate with other student filmmakers on the task of adapting a script written by a student in the year above them. After reading the script for Nosebleed, which tells the dark story of a woman struggling with mental illness, Hall’s group was inspired to take an avant-garde approach to their storytelling.

“There are many ways to shoot a script,” said Hall. “You can take it Hollywood style narrative and lead a straightforward path for your viewer, or you can get experimental and become non-linear, bringing your viewers into a maze.”

To achieve this nonlinear experience for the audience, Hall’s group portrayed the story from the perspective of the mentally ill woman with the intention of showing “what it would be like to be in such an unstable, ever-changing mental state.” Adding to their experimentalism, the filmmakers chose to cast a man to play the main character’s mother.

“We wanted the film to feel surreal and dark with elements of symbolism and unanswered questions,” said Hall.

In the future, Hall hopes to continue creating psychological films with creative plot twists that play with the expectations of his audience.

“I hope to one day make a twist as good as The Sixth Sense,” Hall expressed.

Hayden Salter

 Photo: Submitted by Hayden Salter

Photo: Submitted by Hayden Salter

First-year film studies student Hayden Salter was first introduced to the word of filmmaking through photography. In his early high school years, Salter created an Instagram account where he would showcase his wide range of photographic skills, from city and landscape photography to profiles and intricate nature shots. Salter recalls entering high school feeling shy and insecure in the new chapter of his life, so he turned to photography as a medium for self expression. He began to gain confidence in himself after his Instagram page gained popularity across the school where he received positive feedback from his peers.

 Photo courtesy Hayden Salter via Instagram

Photo courtesy Hayden Salter via Instagram

“It felt like I was getting validation, because people would see what I was doing and they liked what I was doing,” said Salter.

While photography ultimately opened Salter up to the world of artistic expression, he believes film is the most effective medium for getting a message across to an audience, an aim he credits as being the reason he first got into filmmaking.

“Film grabs all the different components of sound, video, and you put it all together into this one image that you construct and you can share it with the world,” said Salter. “I just think that’s incredible. It captivates all the senses.”

Salter uses film to spread messages surrounding topics important to him including his latest short film Brink, which showcases the anxieties that come with entering into adulthood and how he overcame his fear in making life changing decisions for his future.

The idea for Brink came into fruition during Salter’s senior year in high school after he attended an assembly addressing university applications. He remembers going home that evening and translating his worries towards the prospect of university into a script, which he wrote as a conversation between two people representing two opposing thoughts in his head.


“One side of me was saying that you’re going to embark in this whole new world with all these opportunities and meet new people,” said Salter. “The other side of me was saying I don’t want to go into this new world. I have everything that I want right now and I’m sheltered and secure.”

The film concludes with the message that life will always change and move forward and despite how fearful one may be, they have to move along with it.

And Salter did just that, resulting in an acceptance to the film studies program at Ryerson University where he continues to add to his experience as a filmmaker. Currently, Salter creates action-packed promotional videos for sports games as well as music videos, but hopes to one day pursue a career in writing and directing narrative pieces.

“I want my films to mean something,” said Salter.

Julia Batista

 Photo: Submitted by Julia Batista

Photo: Submitted by Julia Batista

Julia Batista’s journey into filmmaking began during her time in elementary school. During her grade 7 year, teachers began giving students the option to explore several creative mediums in order to complete their assignments. Always, and without hesitation, Batista would opt to create and edit a film. And it wasn’t just that Batista thought making a film was a more appealing option than writing a poem or designing a poster, for example, she also did it because she thoroughly enjoyed the process of editing a piece.

“Actually physically putting all the clips together, rearranging them, zooming in on a program to the seconds and milliseconds and fine cutting the footage, that’s what I really liked,” said Batista. “I thought, if I could do that everyday, I really wouldn’t mind it.”

Years later, when she arrived in the film studies program at Ryerson University, Batista was opened up to a world of opportunities in the filmmaking industry. For some time, she intending on pursuing cinematography as she found herself enjoying camera operating on set. However, Batista recalls having a recent epiphany that changed her career focus entirely. She now desires to pursue the career of a producer, which focuses heavily on organizing and planning a film, as she claims this role would be the perfect fit for her personality type.

“I’m extremely type A, I consider myself to be very organized and efficient,” said Batista. “I live my personal life this way, so it just makes so much sense to take on that role in the production of a film.”

 Photo: Submitted by Julia Batista

Photo: Submitted by Julia Batista

While the role of a producer may be her chosen path, Batista has gained experience in several different filmmaking roles, including that of writer and director on her short film Expiration Date, a portrayal of the influence that toxic relationships have on one’s mental state. The film, created as a project for her first year production class, tasked Batista and her peers to work entirely on a 16mm Bolex film camera. Batista chose to work with double exposures to convey the moments when the film’s main character relives past memories of his relationship. She explained that since her team had to work with a Bolex, in order to create the double exposures, she had to physically rewind the film and precisely coordinate when to stop and expose it to the right amount of light. When this process is successful, as shown in Batista’s piece, it creates a ghostly overlapping image that portrays the past and present intersecting with one another.

“It took a lot of planning, slowly taking the steps, and patience with the actors,” said Batista of the double exposure process. “Once you roll the film, you can’t go back and look. But it turned out really well and I’m proud of it.”

In the future, Batista intends to work within the niche of documentary filmmaking. She hopes to produce films with a specific focus on the state of the environment, an issue she has advocated for and been passionate about for many years. She intends to take her documentaries international to explore the industry in countries like Australia, where documentary filmmaking is a widely popular medium.

“There’s just something about documentaries when it’s a really beautiful, cinematic piece,” said Batista. “At the end you realize it was all real. Real people, real stories. And yet it still feels like you were watching a movie. That’s what gets me about documentaries, I really love that kind of stuff.”

Meet the 6th Annual Buffer Festival Content Creators

By: Nina Jeffery

 Joey Richter, Brian Rosenthal, and Corey Lubowich ( Team Starkid ).

Joey Richter, Brian Rosenthal, and Corey Lubowich (Team Starkid).

Team StarKid, a musical theatre ensemble, began in 2009 when a group of friends from the University of Michigan posted the Harry Potter parody musical, A Very Potter Musical on YouTube. The show became a viral hit and was the first college theatre production to make the Billboard Hot 100. With over 400,000 YouTube subscribers, they continue to delight a dedicated fan base with original productions. Team StarKid’s newest musical, The Guy Who Didn't Like Musicals premieres this fall at the Matrix Theatre Company.

 Louis Cole ( FunForLouis )

Louis Cole (FunForLouis)

After gaining a following from food stunt videos on his channel FoodForLouis, Louis Cole has since been creating daily vlogs focused on lifestyle and travel. His channel recently passed 2 million subscribers and he is now known in the YouTube community as a top travel content creator. Cole received the Festival Honour Award at the Buffer Festival Awards Gala for his vlog Beyond Borders (Chapter 1).

 Hannah Snow ( HannahSnow )

Hannah Snow (HannahSnow)

Hannah Snow is a British creator known for her lifestyle and DIY videos. At Buffer Festival, Snow premiered a clip from her new short, Sisters of House Black, with fellow creator Kelsey Ellison. 

 Jon Cozart ( Paint )

Jon Cozart (Paint)

Jon Cozart is an American musician and comedian with 4.5 million subscribers on YouTube. He is well-known for his After Ever After acapella videos, where he parodies Disney characters through song. Cozart premiered the video Coming Out at Buffer Festival. He won the award for Excellence in Writing at the Awards Gala.

 Michael Gregory ( schmoyoho )

Michael Gregory (schmoyoho)

Michael Gregory is the drummer and keyboardist of The Gregory Brothers. The band is renowned for their Songify the News series. At Buffer Festival, Gregory premiered his Girls Just Wanna Have Fun video.

 Chantel Houston ( Ladylike )

Chantel Houston (Ladylike)

Chantel Houston is a senior producer and cast member for BuzzFeed. She is one of five creators for the YouTube channel LadyLike which focuses on lifestyle videos for women. At Buffer Festival, she premiered the film Whale Hello There.

 Shannon Boodram ( Shan Boody )

Shannon Boodram (Shan Boody)

Shannon Boodram is well-known for being the internet’s relationship expert, making content that focuses on dating and sex education. Her YouTube channel encourages sex-positive conversations. She premiered her music video for Soaring, an empowerment video created with her partner Jared Brady.

 Stevie Boebi ( Stevie )

Stevie Boebi (Stevie)

Stevie Boebi is a YouTube creator known for her queer-positive content where she gives life advice and speaks about sex and relationships. She premiered her documentary Go Fist Yourself which focuses on misconceptions about sex in the porn industry and in our everyday lives.

 Elle Mills ( ElleOfTheMills )

Elle Mills (ElleOfTheMills)

Elle Mills is a Canadian YouTube creator who boasts 1.5 million subscribers on her channel ElleOfTheMills. She gained popularity for her Coming Out (Elle Mills Style) video that has over 3.9 million views. She creates vlogs and comedy videos, and premiered her newest video I Turned my Mom’s House Into a Frat at the comedy screening.

 Sorelle Amore & Leon Hill ( SorelleAmore )

Sorelle Amore & Leon Hill (SorelleAmore)

Sorelle Amore is an Australian photographer and YouTuber known for her lifestyle and travel videos. Her popular series Advanced Selfies quickly popularized her channel. Her short film Where Are You? premiered at Buffer Festival. The featured creator poses with her partner Leon Hill.

 Anna Akana ( AnnaAkana )

Anna Akana (AnnaAkana)

Anna Akana’s comedy and documentary work has garnered over 2 million YouTube subscribers. Recently, she produced and starred in the YouTube Red series Youth and Consequences. She premiered her short film dolor and received the Award for Excellence in Production at the festival Awards Gala.

 Zach Ramelan ( ZachRamelan )

Zach Ramelan (ZachRamelan)

Zach Ramelan is a Canadian creator known for filmmaking and tech reviews. His short film Blinders premiered at Buffer Festival and highlighted the issue of homelessness in Canada. Ramelan won the Canadian Award of Excellence at the Awards Gala.

 Spankie Valentine ( SpankieValentineTV )

Spankie Valentine (SpankieValentineTV)

Spankie Valentine is renowned for her career as a musical artist and her high-energy short films. Her film Lost in Darkness explores the dark side of the mind and won the award for Excellence in Cinematography at the Awards Gala.

 Whitney Avalon ( WhitneyAvalon)

Whitney Avalon (WhitneyAvalon)

Whitney Avalon is an actress, comedian and musician who is known for her Princess Rap Battle series on YouTube. She premiered her film Don’t Be A, a comedic “kids” show better suited for adult audiences. Avalon won both the Excellence in Music, Sound, & Score and the Excellence in Comedy awards at the Awards Gala.

 Stef Sanjati ( StefSanjati )

Stef Sanjati (StefSanjati)

Stef Sanjati is a Toronto based makeup artist, director and advocate. Her film Bad Words premiered at the festival’s LGBTQ+ screening and explored online culture and the negative effects that a single comment can hold.

22 Blockbusters You Never Knew Where Filmed in Canada

By: Brent Smyth

While Canada may not have its own version of Hollywood, many blockbusters choose their northern neighbours to film key scenes and even entire movies! Whether to save money or the incredible scenery, here are the top 22 films to have been shot in Canada, and just wait for 16 and 21.

#1- Titanic (1997)

During the true sinking of the Titanic in 1912, Halifax was the closest port to the catastrophe, and the first to receive the distress signal. The ocean scenes in the film, which was in 1997 the most successful of all time- were shot near where the 1912 event occurred. In Halifax today over 100 victims of the sinking are buried near the port.

Twilight.jpg

#2- Twilight (2008)

Forks High School in the Twilight films in real life is the David Fraser Secondary School in Vancouver. Throughout the Lower Mainland and Vancouver play host to the setting in three of the four movies in the series.

 (The Hollywood Reporter)

(The Hollywood Reporter)

#3- Good Will Hunting (1997)

Shot in only five months, this movie was created in Boston and Toronto, and all the movie’s famous classroom scenes were filmed at the University of Toronto and Central Technical School, not Harvard and MIT.

interstellar.jpg

#4- Interstellar (2014)

While a solid ¾ of the film is in space, the initial farm scenes and opening locations are all found in Alberta. Including Calgary, Canmore, Okotoks, Fort Macleod and outlying areas.

 (MTV UK)

(MTV UK)

#5- Mean Girls (2004)

Set in Illinois, a majority of the movie was shot in Toronto at Malvern Collegiate Institute and Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, and the famous Jungle mall scene was shot in Etobicoke, in Sherway Gardens.

Inception.jpg

#6- Inception (2010)

Truly a movie of international locations, inception takes place in England, Morocco and France. However the Fortress Mountain Ski Resort in the Canadian Rockies at Kananaskis, just outside of Calgary served as the snowy mountain fortress sequence, the deepest dream level.

 (Rolling Stone)

(Rolling Stone)

#7- Billy Madison (1995)

Sandler’s character in the film progresses through all the grades of school, and the movie itself progresses through quite a few locations in Toronto, including Northern Secondary School, John Ross Robertson Junior Public School, the Parkwood Estate in Oshawa and several other locations around Toronto, Oshawa and Stouffville.

#8- Blades of Glory (2007)

Putting the city’s Olympic history to use, the film used the Montreal Olympic Stadium for the outdoor skating scenes, and the movie’s signature chase scene was shot in Montreal’s Olympic Village.

 (El Parana)

(El Parana)

#9- IT (2017)

The remake of Stephen King’s clown horror finds its home in Port Hope, Ont. The local Queen Street Tattoo parlour was transformed to Derry Ice Cream for the film.

 (Pop Geeks)

(Pop Geeks)

#10- The Incredible Hulk (2008)

Seemingly filmed in New York City, for four nights in downtown Toronto Yonge Street was closed for filming. And because of how accommodating Toronto’s mayor at the time had been, the Eaton Centre and the University of Toronto also play a role in the film.

 (Mental Floss)

(Mental Floss)

#11- Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Instead of flying to France for the European scenes, film crews travelled to Montreal and Quebec City to avoid breaking the bank while still getting the european feel.

 (Nerdist)

(Nerdist)

#12- The Neverending Story (1984)

Although most of the movie was shot in Germany, the alleyway Bastian finds himself chased into is Vancouver’s Blood Alley in Gastown. And at the very end of the movie, Flying Luck Dragon Falcor does a Vancouver fly-by.

 (Time Out)

(Time Out)

#13- Capote (2005)

It may have been set in the flatlands of Kansas, but Capote was instead shot in Winnipeg and Selkirk, Manitoba. Some notable sites to see are the Manitoba Legislative Building, Gilbart’s Funeral Home and Stony Mountain Institution, which plays a prominent role in the film.

 (Mental Floss) 

(Mental Floss) 

#14- My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Starring Canadian actress Nia Vardalos, the film may have been set in Chicago, but the filming didn't draw Vardalos far from home. A number of downtown spots including Toronto’s Greek Town played home to the film.

 (The Telegraph) 

(The Telegraph) 

#15- Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Although set in Wyoming, it is clear the Canadian Rockies are the breathtaking backdrop seen in the film. Sites where the filming actually took place include Calgary, Elbow Falls, Cowley and Fort Macleod.

 (The Ace Black Blog)

(The Ace Black Blog)

#16- Chicago (2002)

Iconic Toronto locales such as Osgoode Hall, Queen’s Park, Elgin Theatre and Union Station all had roles in the film, and Toronto has frequently played the part of Chicago in blockbuster films, and this musical was no exception.

 (Addicted2Success)

(Addicted2Success)

#17- Cool Runnings (1993)

Loosely based on the 1988 Jamaican national bobsled team that competed in the Olympics in Calgary, this movie stays true to its real-life counterparts and had a majority of its filmign done in Calgary.

 (Hollywood Reporter)

(Hollywood Reporter)

#18- Juno (2007)

Although set in Minnesota, Juno was actually shot in various locations throughout Vancouver, Burnaby, Coquitlam and White Rock, and this American-Canadian comedy has gone down as a Canadian classic.

 (Hollywood Reporter)

(Hollywood Reporter)

#19- The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

The highest-grossing Hollywood movie ever to be filmed in Canada, this American action film finds its locations in Toronto and Montreal, as well as globally in places such as Tokyo, Hawaii and Scotland.

 (The Telegraph)

(The Telegraph)

#20- Total Recall (2012)

Using the aid of CGI, Guelph, Ont. was converted into a post-apocalyptic London, and Toronto location such as the  University of Toronto’s Scarborough Campus and Roy Thomson Hall stood in for stations within the planet’s internal transit system, The Fall. Total Recall remains one of the largest budget films shot in Toronto.

 (PLay

(PLay

#21- American Psycho (2000)

Considering the word ‘American’ is in the title, don't be alarmed when it is revealed Bateman’s office is in the TD Centre, serving as a substitute for the Seagram Building in New York City, which were both designed by architect Mies Van der Rohe. Additionally, The Phoenix Concert Theatre, The King Edward Hotel’s Consort Bar, The Senator diner and several more of the city’s now-defunct restaurants and clubs played host to Patrick Bateman and his friends on film.

 (The Telegraph)

(The Telegraph)

#22- The Revenant (2015)

Shot in Alberta, the winter it was being filmed proved difficult for the crew, as the snow started to melt before production was complete. This forced the final fight scene in the film to be shot in Argentina. Also due to the odd winter, Burnaby, B.C. was used for a few scenes.

This piece was edited by Isabelle Kirkwood

Notable Canadian Oscar Winners throughout History

Oscar-season is officially over and this year brought Canada's fair share of homegrown nominees. Let's take a look back through the history of the Academy Awards to look at Canada's most notable winners. 

1. Mary Pickford

pickford.jpeg

Mary Pickford of Toronto won the second Best Actress award in Oscar history (however the first award for an actress in a talkie) for the 1929 film, Coquette. Although Pickford retired shortly after from acting in 1933, she would receive an honorary Oscar at the 1976 Academy Awards for her contributions to the world of film.

2. James Cameron

cameron.jpg

For producing the (then) highest-grossing film of all-time, James Cameron won Best Picture, Best Director and Film Editing in 1997 for Titanic, which earned a record-breaking total of 11 Oscars.  

3. Norma Shearer and Marie Dressler

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Continuing the trend of Canadian actresses dominating the early Oscars ceremonies, French-Canadian actress Norma Shearer won the Best Actress award at the third Academy Awards for the 1930 film, The Divorcee. Canada’s Marie Dressler then won the Best Actress award for her performance in the 1930 film, Min and Bill at the fourth Academy Awards.

4. Harold Russell

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Despite being a disabled World War II veteran, Nova Scotia-born Harold Russell featured in the 1946 film The Best Years of Our Lives, for which he claimed the Best Supporting Actor award. Russell lost both of his hands in combat, and received a second Oscar that night for ''bringing aid and comfort to disabled veterans through the medium of motion pictures.''

5. Norman Jewison

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Through the years, Jewsion’s films have won 12 Oscars- including Best Picture in 1967 for In the Heat of the Night, and have been nominated for a total of 45. He himself has been honoured as a seven-time Oscar nominee, and in 1999 received the prestigious Irving Thalberg Award at the Oscars.

6. Christopher Plummer

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Known for his iconic role as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Plummer won his first Oscar in 2012. He received a standing ovation when he won Best Supporting Actor award in the independent film, Beginners. The then 82-year-old was the oldest person to have ever won an Oscar.

7. Walter Huston

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Playing a wounded ship’s captain in Humphrey Bogart’s 1948 film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Toronto-born Walter Huston won the Best Supporting Actor award. His son John won Best Director that year for the same film.

8. Anna Paquin

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Making her debut performance at just age 11, Winnipeg-born actress Anna Paquin picked up her Best Supporting Actress award for the 1993 film The Piano. That night Paquin became the second-youngest Oscar winner of all time.

9. Denys Arcand

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Arcand is the only French-Canadian director in history to take home an Oscar, along with being nominated three times, all in the Best Foreign Film category. He was nominated for The Decline Of The American Empire in 1986, Jesus Of Montreal in 1989 and won in 2004 for The Barbarian Invasions

10. Paul Haggis

 Complex.com

Complex.com

Haggis became the first screenwriter to write two Best Film Oscars back-to-back- Million Dollar Baby and Crash in 2004 and 2005- the latter of which he directed. For Crash, he won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.