3 Movies That Show How Students in Film School Can Use Natural Light

Posted on December 22nd, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Want your work at film school to have an interesting look

One of the main benefits of lighting equipment is that it can allow film production to go on at any time of day, and in many environments. Without lights, it can be difficult to get good footage in low-light conditions.

Still, there are some films that forego lighting equipment in favour of the illumination offered by natural light sources. Done well, this approach to lighting can be used to create a sense of realism in the picture, and helps create striking visuals that would be more difficult to achieve with traditional lighting systems.

Want a little inspiration? Here are three movies that used natural light to great effect.

1. Children of Men Exemplifies Gritty Naturalism for Students in Film Production Programs

In Children of Men, which takes place in a world where no children have been born for over 18 years, a man and pregnant woman attempt to flee multiple warring factions bent on their capture. The places through which they journey are desolate, and the mood is decidedly sombre throughout the film.

Director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki relied largely on natural lighting for the film, which helped paint the scenery in drab greys and browns. If you want your work in the production and final project terms of your film school education to exhibit a similarly depressing tone, consider utilizing the subdued lighting of a cloudy day to help achieve your goal.

2. Use of Sunlight and Firelight Helped Make The Revenant‘s Visuals Distinct

The Revenant is another great example of natural lighting, again thanks to Emmanuel Lubezki. In this film, which follows a man journeying through frozen wilderness in search of revenge, use of natural light helped contribute to a realistic, brutal atmosphere.

Differences in the colour temperature of light sources also led to some beautiful, emotional shots. The cool, blue-tinted light of the sun heightened the loneliness of a man wandering the winter landscape, and reddish firelight was used at times to provide constrained warmth in portions of the picture. Considering the emotional impact of different colour temperatures, as was done in The Revenant, can help you use natural light to great effect while completing your courses in film.

3. Wild Shows Students in Film School that Natural Light Can Be Breathtaking

Natural light is not just a tool for creating a sense of gloom. As evidence, consider the film Wild, which follows a woman on a journey of discovery as she hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail is famous for its spectacular views and varied climates—it stretches along the west coast from Mexico to the Canadian border—and natural lighting (in the hands of cinematographer Yves Belanger) was used as a way to help communicate the diversity and splendour of the landscapes.

Natural lighting helped the landscape shine in Wild

Natural lighting helped the landscape shine in Wild

If you find yourself working on a film project that places importance on the natural world, consider employing a similar tactic by using natural lighting. Fans of nature will likely find much to appreciate in the way your work highlights, and doesn’t try to alter, the beauty of your chosen landscape.

Natural light can be used to many effects, and is an interesting tool for budding filmmakers to explore. Consider trying it out to create standout visuals at film school and beyond.

Are you thinking of studying in film production programs?

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Students in Film Courses, Here’s a Day in the Life of a Production Assistant

Posted on December 2nd, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

film courses
For decades, many young professionals in the film industry have gotten their start as a production assistant. It’s how Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy entered the business in 1979, and it’s one of the first industry jobs actress and producer Mindy Kaling took in the early 2000s.

The production assistant role endures as an entry point in part because the role pops up for all kinds of film and television projects, and in part because the role involves taking on many responsibilities. Becoming a production assistant can be key to meeting future employers and beginning your career in the film industry.

Wondering what a day’s work is like for production assistants? Here is a quick look at what you can expect.

Production Assistants Out of Film Production Schools: Yes, Expect to Get Coffee

It’s a long-running joke that production assistants spend much of their time running around delivering coffee to the various higher-ups on a set or in an office. For many PAs, it’s also a reality.

It may be heartening to learn that it is not just coffee and other foodstuffs that PAs are sent to fetch. Depending on what their bosses might need on a given day, PAs might be sent to collect essential equipment, or asked to buy or return props. Essentially, if there’s something that needs to be grabbed before cameras start rolling, a PA will probably be sent to get it.

Though this portion of the job won’t make great use of the scriptwriting, production, or editing skills you honed at school, you will likely find it is a necessary step toward performing the more engaging work you want to do.

PAs Are Sometimes Tasked With Facilitating Technical Work

If you are interested in doing camera or sound work, or in working with lighting, you can make inroads to those careers by starting as a production assistant.

PAs are sometimes asked to help establish the right conditions for filming. They do things like ensure the set remains quiet, or that other people around the set don’t walk into a shot. They will often also be asked to help load and unload film equipment. For jobs like these, the knowledge from your film courses will certainly come in handy. You will have learned which tools go by what name, and will be familiar with what constitutes ideal filmmaking conditions. You might even be able to take a proactive role, and complete necessary tasks before even being asked.

film production schools

Production assistants often help maintain good filming conditions on set

After Studying in Film Courses, You Might Be Tasked With Managing Paperwork as a PA

One of the more important responsibilities graduates of film production schools might experience as a PA is managing paperwork. This can include tasks like ensuring cast and crew are all given the right copies of scripts, or collecting timesheets. PAs might even be asked to organize a director’s notes, which Steven Spielberg tasked Kathleen Kennedy with doing when she worked as a PA.

Organizational skills developed during your film production education will be helpful while working in this role, and if you make yourself a reliable enough asset, you may find you gain the favour of someone who is higher up on your set. This can lead to future opportunities, or even moments where you are asked for input.

PA jobs are demanding, and involve some work that may seem unrelated to the expertise you developed in film production school. Still, they can open the door to future opportunities as a production coordinator, camera assistant, and even grip positions. They are one of the main ways newcomers break into the film industry. If that is your goal, a PA job may be a good choice after you complete your studies.

Do you want to attend film school in Toronto?

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Taking Film Courses? 4 Tips for Making Memorable War Movies

Posted on November 11th, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

War movies are some of the most expensive and elaborate to film

War movies are some of the most expensive and elaborate to film

The very first war movie to depict the struggles of battle was The Big Parade, filmed in 1925. The film starred a bartender, riveter, and millionaire’s son thrown into the trenches of WW1 together. In many ways, this movie set the tone for many iconic films to come.

Although most of us haven’t been to war, many of us base our interpretations off the narratives of veterans and films about war. Some critics believe the war film genre glorifies war and deserves criticism. However, many others believe well-crafted war films hold the power to expose the realities real-life soldiers have faced.

As filmmakers, crafting realistic and honourable war movies that are honest to war-time situations could help to honour soldiers and their stories. If you’re interested in the art of film, read on to discover four tips for making memorable war films.

1. Students at Film School Should Make Well-Researched War Movies

War films can either be based on historical wars, like the World Wars and Vietnam War, or fictional wars thought up by the minds of creatives like you. When writing the screenplay for a film that is based off a real war, it is important to do thorough research on the actual events that took place.

Many war film fans and history buffs can see right through a bluffed story line, and the film will immediately lose believability if not carefully researched. By making sure certain details remain true to what actually occurred, you help the viewer get lost in your captivating storyline instead of being distracted by inaccurate details.

2. Students in Film Courses Should Incorporate Battle Scenes Into War Films

Unarguably, the mark of a great war movie is an action-packed battle scene with suspense, looming misfortune, and gore. Think Steven Spielberg’s practically record-setting 24-minute battle scene in Saving Private Ryan. In the scene, Captain John H. Miller, played by Tom Hanks, arrives to Omaha Beach with his troops and is faced with a bloodbath of a battle. The scene alone cost $11 million USD to create, with some arguing it was one of the most true-to-life war battle scenes ever filmed.

Producing a scene where the viewer has a three-dimensional sense of what is going on requires many different shots of the same scene. Altering points of views and perspectives adds realism and depth. In Saving Private Ryan, Spielberg even brought in underwater cameras to add realism to the famous battle scene.

After film school you may get the chance to create war films. Although you might not have a blockbuster sized budget, one way you can prepare to create great battle scenes is by story boarding. Story boards lay out how a scene will look from each different camera angle. It helps ease production of a scene that has a ton of action, ensuring that the final cut looks cohesive.

Story boards can help you keep all your scenes organized and cohesive

Story boards can help you keep all your scenes organized and cohesive

3. Captivating Conflict Is the Key for Great War Films

A common criticism about war movies is that they all have similar character dynamics. A supportive leader, an under-prepared young soldier, and a quirky odd ball all forming a dysfunctional group set out to take on the enemy. Sound familiar? As a student in film courses, you know that great, revolutionary, and ground-breaking films push the envelope and try something new.

Films based off actual historic wars provide a unique challenge: audiences already know the story’s outcome, since it’s common knowledge how each war ended. So, as a film writer or producer you must create a unique conflict within the broad umbrella of that specific war to keep your audience enthralled. Finding this unique story is what makes war movies truly memorable.

4. Students in Film School Should Have Respect for History

When creating, watching, or discussing war films it is important to pause and reflect on the real instances of war you are portraying. Iconic war movies like Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List do not make a cartoon out of warfare. They work to demonstrate situations people of that time may have found themselves in as realistically as possible.

During your film studies, you may handle sensitive subject matter like war, crime, or abuse. It is important to respect those who have been impacted by the subject matter. Carrying this respect with you as you write, produce, and edit films will improve the quality and authenticity of your film and help you connect with your viewers. Films have the power to draw attention to global issues that may have been left unnoticed or forgotten. By pursuing training in film you can use your creativity to help change the world for the better.

Student in film school should respect the actualities of war

Student in film school should respect the actualities of war

Do you want to learn to craft memorable movies at film school in Toronto?

Contact Trebas to learn more about our programs.

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3 Things Students in Film Production Courses Should Know About Handheld Camerawork

Posted on October 14th, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Grads of Film Production Courses Know Handheld Camerawork Adds Realism

Getting steady shots is essential for professional quality productions. While this is usually best accomplished with a tripod, dolly, or shoulder rig, sometimes convenience, economics, or artistic preference will motivate you to use handheld camera techniques. Fortunately, modern video cameras have come a long way in terms of weight, flexibility, and stabilizing functions, but even so the deciding factor in handheld camera success will be the techniques you employ.

“Being quick on your feet at producing quality film and video work is what employers require,” notes Kalman Szegvary, director of Trebas Institute’s Film and TV Production program. In the program, students gain extensive hands-on experience in everything from screenwriting to post-production, including best practices in cinematography.

Here are some things to keep in mind to get great handheld camera shots.

1. Grads of Film Production Courses Know Handheld Camerawork Adds Realism

If you don’t have a tripod, forgot it at home, or your subject matter lends itself to moving shots, handheld shooting may be necessary. It’s an essential skill for all camera operators to develop and an important artistic concept for film directors to understand. It’s often used in television news and documentaries to capture urgent or demanding situations when speed and flexibility are top priorities.

Handheld camerawork is also an increasingly popular technique in film and television, easily adaptable for unpredictable conditions and adding an element of immediacy and realism. Commonly used in music videos and reality TV, it can be a powerful way to grip an audience and pull them into the action, enhancing emotional content like violence and chase scenes.

2. Students in Film Production School Know Good Posture is Important to Handheld Camerawork

Students in film production courses know that while shaky camerawork can be effective for certain artistic purposes, attaining a steady view is the more challenging issue at hand. Start with a steady stance, legs shoulder-length apart and slightly bent to act as a natural shock-absorber for your camera. Make your body like a tripod by keeping your balance, leaning against a tree or building for support if possible.

Keep the camera close to your body for stabilization

Keep the camera close to your body for stabilization

Gloves and lumbar support belts can help for long handheld shots, and two hands are better than one when holding the camera. Do some pre-shot stretching and deep breathing to be relaxed and limber. Keep your elbow tucked in close to your chest, with the camera tight to your body, or firmly on your shoulders for heavier cameras.

3. Handheld Camerawork Can Be Used to Create Different Effects

When working on your final project at film production school, you might want to experiment with different shots and effects, such as the “zolly effect,” through handheld camerawork. The zolly effect, also known as the dolly zoom effect, gives a vertigo-like illusion to your shots. That’s because the zolly effect makes it appear as if the subject in your shot is being pulled toward the camera while the surroundings are being pushed back, or vice versa.

Here’s an example of the zolly effect in action:


To achieve this look using a handheld camera, begin your shot close to your subject with your camera fully zoomed out. Then, slowly walk away from the subject while zooming in. The result will be a surreal look perfect for dramatic moments of realisation or other dizzying instants in your movie.

Would you like to learn camera techniques at film school in Toronto?

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3 Ways Students in TV Schools Can Create Brilliant TV Show Titles

Posted on September 30th, 2016 - Written by: Trebas Toronto

Student in film school

It’s no mistake that iconic television shows have great names. It takes a stroke of creativity and some careful consideration to come up with a show name that’s unique, fitting, and memorable.

As critics, filmmakers, and film school instructors can tell you, a good title sets the stage for a great TV show, while a bad title can sour even the most promising of premises. If you pursue film and TV training, you’ll have the chance to create your own exciting projects from the ground up. You’ll learn the ins and outs of both production and post-production from real industry experts who can help you put your best ideas on film (with the best titles possible!).

Prepare for success by following these tips for choosing a great TV show title.

1. Students at Film and TV School Know: Keep it Short

“Single-word titles are very strong,” says Blue Bloods executive producer Michael Pressman. “GunsmokeBonanzaDamages—these are such dynamic titles.”

Keeping it short and sweet can be as easy as using the story’s setting (Downton Abbey, Twin Peaks, Cheers) or its main character’s names (Seinfeld, Dexter, Sherlock). It can also be effective to use a simple descriptive word or phrase that suits the general topic of the show, like Scandal, Freaks and Geeks, Law & Order, or Lost.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, titles of six words or less tend to be better-received by both critics and audiences. In the age of Twitter these shorter titles are practical, too. Professionals now know that fans will shorten their titles if they take up too much of that precious character count—think How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) and Orange Is the New Black (OITNB). This can obscure a title’s meaning for those not in the know, and take some creative control out of the writers’ hands.

2. Choose Words and Tones that Speak to Your Prospective Audience

When you choose titles for the projects you create in and after film and TV school, it’s very important to write them for the right audience. Who will watch this show? What kind of language do they use? You’ll want to match the title to the tone of the show itself, so viewers understand what to expect and whether it’s something they’d enjoy.

“You’ve got to have something that makes people say, ‘I want to check that out,’” says David Janollari, the TV exec who chose the title of the hit show, Friends. “It has to be catchy, and it has to frame for the audience the context of the show. If a title really contextualizes the tone of a show, that’s a big factor in helping you launch a show and market and position it to an audience.”

On the flipside, poorly-chosen titles can alienate prospective viewers and misrepresent a show’s tone. Cougar Town is about a mature women balancing work and home responsibilities after a divorce, but mature, conservative, female viewers didn’t tune in because of its slang-y title. Avoid this risk by taking time to consider your audience.

3. Don’t Be Vague When Choosing TV Show Names After Film and TV School

Even for professionals, it usually takes multiple attempts to find the most unique and effective show title. For example, the Ellen DeGeneres ‘90s sitcom These Friends of Mine quickly became Ellen because ABC producers felt it was too easily confused with the other ‘90s hit Friends.

Graduates of top TV schools like Trebas know that if a title feels like it could be stuck on any one of a dozen shows, it’s probably the wrong title. When creating a TV show of your own, it’s wise to take a close look at what your show is offering that no others are, focus in on that unique element, and brainstorm from there.

Vague titles are unlikely to catch a viewer’s eye or leave a memorable impression

Vague titles are unlikely to catch a viewer’s eye or leave a memorable impression

Are you ready to take your first courses in television production?

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