First year vs. last: how have our film students grown?

Behind the scenes on a film set at York, taken from the AMPD Cinema and Media Arts Photo Gallery.

York is home to Canada’s first Department of Cinema and Media Arts and has been nurturing emerging filmmakers for over 50 years. Currently, undergraduate students in the department specialize in one of four areas: film production, screenwriting, media arts, and cinema & media studies. I chatted with four film students about their expectations in the program, their goals for after graduation, and how much they have learned and grown since arriving. 

One first-year film student, who wishes to remain anonymous, shares how their first few months compared to their expectations. “Most of the expectations I had about university surrounded actually being together with classmates on campus, which obviously wasn’t feasible this year,” they admit, adding that they are still figuring out what their post-university goals might be. “Obviously I’d like to work in the film industry, but what exactly it is I want to do is something I’ll ideally figure out within the next few years,” they say. 

Another first-year film student is Devki Patel, who is happy with her experience in the program. “So far, my experience has been great. All my professors share great knowledge about their respective subjects and apply their experience in the real world to their teachings,” she says. Patel says that she chose this program “to be given the opportunity to make my own films and work on real film sets,” and after graduating hopes to be a director.

Joseph Bigioni is a fourth-year film student close to finishing his degree. Over the years, “as my classmates and I have all developed in the program and produced more and more projects, it has been wonderful to see these artists grow and evolve,” Bigioni says. 

When first applying to York, Bigioni chose to focus on film production, but that has since changed. “The few years I have already spent studying this medium have given clarity to where my skills and enthusiasm are best suited — screenwriting” he says. “With a growing Canadian film and television industry, I look forward to diving headfirst into a career in storytelling and seeing where it takes me.” 

Boyan Demchuk is also in his fourth year in the film program. When he arrived at York, he expected a “very hands-on program that would teach many theoretical and technical skills,” he says. The program, in his experience, has had more of a focus on theory than he was expecting. Though like Bigioni, Demchuk’s time at York has helped focus his career goals. 

“I was a lot more interested in directing when I got to York. But I am now much more focused on trying to pursue a career in editing or producing with a focus on television,” Demchuk says. He adds, “I would like to work in the Canadian television industry, and then hopefully eventually find work creating my own content down the line.” 

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By Céleste A. LaCroix

Former Editor

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