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Filmmaking equipment on a set

Lending a hand to help students achieve excellence

In the early months of 2020, Advanced Television and Film (ATVF) students were preparing their shooting schedules, and looking forward to the excitement of working on the student films that would give them a hands-on view of life in the film industry.

ATVF students working on a film set. An actor stands on a box in front of the camera.
ATVF students on the set of dErick.

When the pandemic hit in March, public health measures put their filmmaking on pause, and they found themselves forced into an unwelcome hiatus. By the Fall semester of 2020, they were ready to get back to work, but with physical-distancing measures still very much in place. That threatened some of the hands-on experience they typically would have enjoyed, so ATVF coordinator Maureen McKeon decided to do something to ensure they were still able to access a high-quality educational experience.

Luckily, she was able to connect with longtime Sheridan supporter, Sim – a leader in offering equipment rentals for the film industry, supporting productions like Umbrella Academy and Schitt’s Creek – to allow students access to professional colour correction, a process that occurs during a film’s post-production phase to adjust the colour, contrast and exposure in film footage.

“The pandemic had taken away so much,” McKeon says. “The support Sim offered was above and beyond and we really appreciate it. They helped the students make something very good.”

Over the course of four months, staff at Sim provided colour correction for all five of the final student films. Sim’s services not only gave the films a professional look and feel, but Sim staff also took the time to connect with students remotely to teach them about the process, so they wouldn’t miss out on a valuable experience.

“The pandemic had taken away so much. The support Sim offered was above and beyond. They helped the students make something very good.”

– Maureen McKeon

Ken Anderson, Vice President of Camera at Sim, says connecting virtually during the production process is an important way Sim can help prepare young filmmakers to succeed, complementing the learning they receive in class. Given the rapid shift into remote production, he believes today’s students are well equipped for that change.

“It’s become a permanent option,” he explains. “These students will be in demand. The film industry is booming as US shows are being shot in Canada, and US showrunners are hiring locally.”

In July, Streamland Media acquired Sim’s post-production division, but Lucy Kayumov, Sim’s Director of Marketing, says the company remains committed to providing the best cameras and lenses for students, and will continue to be a strong supporter of initiatives that support the next generation of filmmakers. In fact, Kayumov says nurturing student talent has long been a part of Sim’s philosophy.

Since 2003, Sim has supported the Bachelor of Film and Television’s Screen Arts Awards, and every year a graduating ATVF student benefits directly from the Sim Kickstart grant which offers in-kind support for camera equipment rental. Kayumov says given Sheridan’s reputation for producing graduates who are top performers, Sim is confident they’re nurturing the best new talent. “Sheridan has a reputable film program and their grads have knowledge and work experience that is beneficial,” she says.

Filming a scene of a man and woman having a discussion while sitting on the steps in front of a building.
Cast and crew filming House Arrest.

This year’s final films included House Arrest, a story about reunification and reckoning following a family member’s release from prison, and dErick, a film that imagines what happens when a manga artist’s childhood imaginary friend returns to teach him how to live life authentically. For those ATVF filmmakers, the opportunity to access professional resources to finish their films provided a bright spot to end a year that won’t soon be forgotten.

“The overall atmosphere of the film changed dramatically, and many details that I cared about were finally revealed to the viewer,” says dErick Director of Photography Chris Wu. “The whole process was effective and enjoyable, thanks to Sim’s efforts.”

“Sim’s hard work allowed us to find a look that brought the film over the edge and pushed it to a level of beauty that we could only get from Sim,” agrees classmate Erik Bajzert, producer of House Arrest. “Even though we are new to the industry, they treated us with professionalism, were always open to ideas and maintained great communication.”

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