Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
Adam Killah and Heather Dahlstrom, both with the Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION) gave a presentation to Espanola High School students about jobs in the filming industry.
How many people does it take to make a movie? If you look at the credits at the end of a movie you will see it takes more than 100 people.
Espanola High School (EHS) teacher and actor, Jayson Stewart brought Heather Dahlstrom and Adam Killah to talk to the students about jobs in the film industry that expand past the roles of actors, producers or directors.
“The movie industry has grown over the past few years in leaps and bounds in so many different ways; and there are jobs out there for you,” said Stewart. “Not just as actors, but in construction, transportation, catering, all the trades are represented plus other jobs you might not even consider.”
Dahlstrom, who has worked on films such as Silent Hill, Empire of Dirt and Max Payne, is a reporting supervisor and fi lm programmer for Cultural Industries Ontario North (CION), and Killah is the marketing and communications officer at CION.
“We have very different experience and education, but we work in the same industry,” Killah told the students. “To be involved in movies is not just the filmmaker or the actor. You see credit roles at the end of any movie or TV show you have ever seen, there are only so many actors. Most of those people are behind the scene.”
It’s a job that pays well, but it comes at a high demand. “These people make so much money and they do because it is hard,” said Dahlstrom. “In the film industry, you work between 12 and, the longest day I have ever worked was 21 hours; and believe me, I would have given back my pay check just to sleep.”
Dahlstrom described the crew working on a film as a puzzle, with each person fulfi lling their key role to make it successful.
“If you’re missing a piece you are never going to finish the puzzle,” she said. “So, if your costume designer doesn’t come to work that day, no one will know what to put on the performers.”
Having worked in the film industry for almost two decades, Dahlstrom said there are “so many little jobs” and that “people get paid to go shopping for film” referring to the clothes, sets and props.
While she is heavily experienced now, she does admit she struggled breaking into the industry because of her gender.
“It was very different. I couldn’t do certain things because I was a girl.”
Starting in 1999, she got her foot in the door by working in a shipping department with her goal to become picture editor. “I just kept proving to people that I could do things, and eventually I got more responsibility,” she said adding it is not as common of a problem as it once was.
If people are interested in seeing how hard the film industry is, Dahlstrom recommended being a backgrounder or extra in a film.
“If you’re interested (in a career in film) figure out what skills you are good at,” said Killah. “If you’re good at math we need you. If you really like customizing cars there is a transportation department.”
One student asked if graphic designers could get into the industry, prompting Killah to say graphic designers are successful. “We can conceptualize skills, but we are not hands on,” he said. “They are building the sets in their heads, but we need the hands-on skills to create it.”
Dahlstrom said she hopes to get more films made in Northern Ontario. Last years, six films were made in the north.
“We have beautiful locations up here,” she said. Prior to wrapping up the presentation Stewart, who is also going to be featured in an Eastlink TV show as a Russian mafia boss in 14 Keys, played three trailers that have a connection not just to Northern Ontario, but to Espanola.
Born to be Blue, which featured the local bowling alley Venture Lanes, The Lesser Blessed, featured a scene of EHS students and The Lost Warriors was filmed by an EHS graduate.
But is film school necessarily the only way to get into the field? Dahlstrom doesn’t think so.
“I keep telling people you don’t have to go to film school to do this stuff,” she said. “Graduate high school, it makes your life so much easier.”