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Sault College digital film prof looking forward to 10th anniversary screening

Approximately 50 seats open to general public for screening at Galaxy Cinema; program’s grads have started their own companies or work for big city studios
Candice Day, Sault College Digital Film Production program’s lead professor.

Sault College will be showing samples of work produced by graduates and current students of its Digital Film Production program from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 at Galaxy Cinema in Station Mall.

The screening will take place to celebrate the program’s 10th anniversary.

“It feels great,” said Candice Day, Sault College Digital Film Production program’s lead professor in an interview with SooToday.  

“It’s the best thing that I’ve done in my career. It is the most gratifying thing. It’s been amazing to see our students, who are so talented, start their careers and go off and be successful. It’s incredibly heartwarming and inspiring. It’s been a wild ride. It’s been a really fun 10 years. Our students are so impressive in so many ways.”

Admission to the screening is free.

“It is open to the public but there’s limited seating because we have a lot of our current students and graduates who are attending with friends and family,” Day said, estimating there will be 50 seats available to the public on a first come, first served basis.

It will be the first local showing of the program students’ work on the big screen.

17 projects will be shown in a 95-minute time frame.

“They range from 30 seconds to 19 minutes. There are some commercials that students have made. There are short films and we’re screening one of our student’s demo reels, which is like a visual resume. There are a couple of black and white films. Most of them are in colour. There are some comedies, some dramas, there’s a psychological thriller, there’s a dramatic thriller, so it's a real mix. There are a couple that are experimental, they’re kind of poetic, like imagery set to poetry. All of the films are really strong and very unique and just cool pieces of art,” Day said.

One film that will be screened is entitled Still.

“It was actually filmed during a COVID lockdown so a student filmed it on an iPhone in her house by herself. The film has won numerous awards and it’s played at a number of film festivals. It’s amazing that something that this student made in her home by herself with a smartphone has done really well critically,” Day said.

Another work that will be screened is entitled The Last Wish starring Harry Houston.

Houston has directed, acted, co-written scripts, and operated light and sound for many local theatre groups, including Pull Chain Theatre, Stage North, Sault Opera Society, and the Sault Theatre Workshop.        

The film won the Special Merit, Cinematography award at Cinéfest Sudbury in 2018. 

“Another interesting film is Out There by a current student. That’s the longest film we’re screening, at 19 minutes. It’s a psychological thriller. It’s in black and white. It was shot in Echo Bay and it’s quite beautiful,” Day said.

The Sault College Digital Film Production program launched in 2013.

“The program was in response to the explosion of film production in the north. When the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation started to support film production there was a need from the producers who were bringing everyone up from Toronto to have a skilled, trained workforce here and so that’s really why the college wanted to start the program,” Day said.  

Day, a Sault native, studied at York University and worked in Toronto’s film industry for 15 years. 

“I was looking for a change so I moved back home and started working with the college to design, create and launch the program. We started it with a couple of continuing education night school classes just to gauge interest in the community and the program’s been great. The first year we were oversubscribed.”

“It’s a two year program and the students get an overview of everything, of the entire process, so they can decide where they want to focus. We’re teaching them how to be filmmakers, teaching them the skills they need to work in the industry or start their own companies if they want to do that as well, and a number of our students have done that,” Day said.

About 200 students have come through the program over the past 10 years. Enrolment in the program has ranged from 23 to 32 students annually, Day said.

The program has included students from the Sault and Algoma District, attracting others from southern Ontario as well as international students.

The Sault and area, Day said, offers a wide variety of good urban and rural shooting locations.

“Producers love shooting in the Sault. Everyone’s friendly. We’ve got great restaurants. It’s easy to get around and we’ve got really cool, really interesting locations, and the Sault can double as all kinds of places in different time periods. It’s really unique that way. The producers and directors I’ve spoken to that have shot up here really enjoy it.”

Local graduates of the program have started their own film production businesses, including Garrett Masters’ Echelon Media and Justine Chalykoff’s Chalykoff Studios.

“Our graduates are working in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, in the north. They’re doing various jobs on set, whether they’re in the camera department, visual effects, locations, assistant directors, they’re all over. Some of our students have been making their own work and getting grants. Some of their films have won ‘best short’ at a number of smaller festivals. Some of our students come into the program because they’re interested in acting. We’ve got a great theatre community in the Sault and so we’ve had students come into the program because it’s the closest thing to an acting program. A lot of our students act in their own projects or each others'.”

Day worked in many areas of filmmaking during her years in Toronto, including time spent working for C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, a Canadian film and television computer animation special effects studio established in 1994 and owned in part by William Shatner.

She directed several short films, including a piece entitled 106 that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

“We’re really hoping that we get some of the high school students coming out to this because it’s a great way to get a taste of what the program offers,” Day said, looking ahead to Thursday's Galaxy Cinema screening.

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Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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