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North Island students reeling in film training

Another crop of graduates complete practical training in film industry skills
NIC Motion Picture Crew students at Martini Studios in Langley. Photo by Kim Stallknecht

A new crop of North Island students have graduated from film industry training and are ready for the cameras to start rolling.

In 2023 Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm) and North Island College (NIC) once again collaborated with Martini Film Studios to host in-person practical training in the company’s Langley studios. This round of 12-week courses were offered from Dec. 5 through to March 3 and targeted students skills in lighting, which involves assisting, developing and safely executing lighting schemes on-set; grip, which provides camera and equipment support; set construction, which involves de-sign, assembly, repair and build of props and sets; set dresser, which provides planning, coordinating, assembling, maintaining, and dismantling the décor for each scene; and location production assistant, which provides industry certificates, knowledge, and soft skills needed to successfully enter into BC’s booming Motion Picture Industry.

“North Island College is proud to provide education and film training for students from across Vancouver Island and B.C. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 365 NIC students have prepared to enter careers in B.C.’s film industry right here, in Langley,” Lisa Domae, President & CEO, North Island College, said

Students from across the province took part in the program, which was a blend of digital and in-person training, including five from Campbell River, 10 from the Comox Valley and four from Port Alberni.

INFilm and NIC, with funding provided by the province of B.C.’s Community Workforce Response Grant, Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada Sponsorship Program and REEL CANADA, the Reel Opportunities Program have launched a series of specialized diversity and youth training programs targeted to British Columbians under-employed and under-represented seeking employment in the province’s rapidly growing motion picture industry. Funded by dedicated government and industry supports, the blended training model, whose applied practical in-person portion takes place at Martini Film Studios (MFS) in Langley, plays a key role in meeting labour demand while promoting equity, diversity and inclusion.

In 2022 following up on the successful 2021 partnership that delivered the pilot programs, INFilm and North Island College received 2022 funding through the provincial government’s Community Workforce Response Grant (CWRG program) to continue to develop micro-credential practical trades related training programs with a focus on diversity and under-represented community members in BC.

“The success of the innovative motion picture micro-credential programming is a result of years of dedication and collaboration between Vancouver Island North Film Commission, industry subject matter experts and the Faculty of Trades and Technical programs of North Island College,” Cheryl O’Connell, Dean Faculty of Trades and Technical programs, North Island College, said. “Ongoing Government investment ensured this programming could come to fruition. This initia-tive is an outstanding example of progressive development possible through the selfless com-mitment of leaders who have united to achieve a common goal of formalizing responsive skills training aligned with labour market needs and provincial economic diversification.”

Further funding from Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada and REEL CANADA enabled the delivery of an entry level youth production assistant program 80 per cent virtual with a week of applied practical bootcamp. The initiative falls under the government’s micro-credential training program, which fast tracks British Columbians to gain education and skills required for high demand jobs.

BC is Canada’s largest, and North America’s third largest, film production centre, with the creative industries contributing $4.84 billion to the economy. The province’s 60,000+ film workers and are in high demand, resulting in competitive wages and sustainable employment. Investing in a local workforce through skills training is critical for BC to maintain its competitive advantage, while also supporting inclusion of visible minorities, youth, women and Indigenous peoples.

“Developing and delivering accessible motion picture skills training marks the culmination of years of hard work by all involved. This round of training is focused on equity, diversity and inclusion which is key to the development of a skilled and diverse motion picture crew-base in B.C. We are proud to have partnered with North Island College and Martin Film Studios to step up and meet this call for action,” Joan Miller, Vancouver Island North Film Commission, Executive Director, said