So you want to be a filmmaker. You’re filling out college applications, or just browsing your options for film schools. You’re doing your homework, trying to carve out a path to achieve your dreams, and I commend you for that. You’ve likely heard from your loving friends and family that you should, without a doubt, go to New York or Los Angeles for film school. But what if, just maybe, you wanted to go somewhere else for film school? What if I told you the city of Toronto is an excellent option for film school?
While there is no ignoring New York or L.A.’s positions as immense filmmaking centers, the production of film in Toronto is at a major high, and its film market is not slowing down its growth anytime soon. Toronto’s film production market has earned its place as a major local industry, and if that wasn’t enough to entice you, here are the advantages of studying filmmaking in Toronto.
Many advocate the importance of connections as a filmmaker, and for good reason. How else do you expect to find work or a crew otherwise? Likewise, one of the major reasons to go to film school is for the opportunity to network and a chance for you to receive constructive feedback. Many universities in Toronto regularly hold special events that exhibit their students’ work, helping them catch the fleeting attention of industry professionals and their peers.
Ryerson’s School of Image Arts has exhibits such as Maximum Exposure (MaxEx) and the University of Toronto hosts its own Film Festival each year, just to name a few. And if that isn’t enough, Toronto has various guilds and unions with a strong standing in the film industry, offering a large network of support and community to get your career off the ground. Toronto is also home to the annual Toronto International Film Festival, and while you may not necessarily have your work exhibited, studying in Toronto gives you a unique front row seat to the internal workings of this globally-renowned event.
Admit it. You want to be at the Toronto International Film Festival with Ryan Reynolds too.
Resources and Equipment
It’s 2019, technological innovation is the name of the game and historically, Toronto has been killing the competition. Sheridan College and York University are pinnacles of technical ability, with the former being involved in two Oscar-winning animations. Thus, it comes as no surprise that film students in Toronto would not only have access to top-grade filming equipment but would also be taught the technical skills and discipline required to use the best equipment and software for editing, audio and visual effects.
Filming Suicide Squad in downtown Toronto. They’re living the dream.
Toronto's landscape also offers a unique and diverse set of filming locations that can also double for several major cities. In recent years, the region has also been an attractive choice for many film and television show projects, including Oscar winners The Shape of Water and Spotlight, as well as series like Orphan Black.
While many areas of the city likely cost a lot to film in, most film schools offer students the advantage of having studios to shoot in, soundstages as well as guidance in seeking out locations on a budget. After all, you’re being taught by industry professionals with valuable wisdom and experience. By attending film school in Toronto, students can take advantage of some of the best equipment and facilities available to make quality work, in addition to the aforementioned opportunities to get exposure for that work.
Be amazed at the Seneca College facilities. Be very amazed.
Money, Money, Money
Costs and money are without a doubt a major factor in deciding where to apply for university. Or even whether to apply. However, just by looking at the exchange rate, one can tell that costs are visibly lower studying in Canada as opposed to the United States. Canadian university tuition costs just over $16,000 American a year on average, while many respectable film schools in the U.S. can range from around $17,000 to upwards of $50,000 American a year, costing more for prestigious schools like University of Southern California or New York University.
While Toronto loses out on the immediacy of big-name connections you might find in filming hubs like L.A or New York, it makes up for it in terms of reduced costs, allowing you to funnel just a bit more green into your own projects.
Additionally, as a city that celebrates the art of film, Toronto provides several ways for young filmmakers to receive funding and reduce costs for their projects, including Canada’s own granting system, award-based grants, the Toronto and the Ontario Arts Councils’ support, as well as private funding as an additional option.
The choice of where to study is a big decision that requires a tremendous amount of consideration, with coffee on one side and emotional support on the other. Film school is indeed a gateway to endless possibilities, connections and a rewarding career. With its own merits and recent success as a film hub, it’s not hard to see why Toronto, alongside Vancouver, has earned the nickname, “Hollywood North,” and hopefully this article will have helped you make your choice in where you want to pursue your filmmaking education. Or it might have just made you more indecisive.
So let me ask you now, where will you choose to study?