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College and film industry collaborate on new course offerings
Okanagan College Media Release

Lights! Camera! Action! Those looking to break into careers in B.C.’s booming film industry can explore new courses coming to Okanagan College this fall.

“We know visual content, from Netflix to YouTube and Facebook, is in high demand and that the region and the province is poised to continue to be a hub for development of that content,” explains Dennis Silvestrone, Director of Continuing Studies and Corporate Training at the College. “The Okanagan has long been a region with a strong and vibrant film industry, and so in developing these courses, our aim was to tap into the immense pool of expertise and talent here, and to offer courses that would help students seamlessly transition into in-demand roles in the industry.”

One of those industry experts consulted in the development of the courses was Okanagan Film Commissioner Jon Summerland.

“The industry keeps growing and we’re adding the infrastructure to attract projects that support more full-time employment opportunities in the area,” explains Summerland. “I have several projects we’re exploring right now, including opportunities for a film series, so it’s a very cool and exciting time to get into film.”

The recent addition of a purpose-built soundstage near the Kelowna airport brings opportunities for increased employment options, regional tax credits and infrastructure to support the industry.

“The Okanagan offers a diverse range of scenery, locations and seasons, and producers are finding that they can get great value from their budgets here. Every successful project breeds another,” says Summerland.

A unique complement of courses, from set etiquette to applicable first aid, offered at Okanagan College brings together a range of useful skills for anyone interested in building their training to enter the industry.

“The Motion Picture Industry Orientation (MPIO) and Background Set Etiquette training offers you the essential details you will need to begin working in the industry. You need basic training to get a film job and the more you get, the better off you are. From there, the sky’s the limit in this industry,” says Summerland.

Debra Sawarin – a 28-year film industry veteran, who holds make-up artist credits on projects such as Pathfinder, An Unfinished Life and many other films and television shows – will instruct the MPIO class offered at the College this fall. Sawarin is looking forward to passing on her experiences and deep industry knowledge with students.

“I’m going to teach the basic expectations and behaviours that will help students navigate their first job and be successful when they walk onto a set for the first time,” explains Sawarin. “Along with the MPIO course, the first aid and traffic safety courses cover all off the essentials that many newcomers to the industry might not even know they should have, but are crucial to working on any set.”

Sawarin is also quick to point out the need for strong communication and collaboration skills on set – skills students can expect to hone in the courses.

“The film industry is one that really embraces the concept of teamwork,” says Sawarin. “It combines people with diverse skills and talents all within one project. A make-up artist could be working next to someone who handles heavy equipment, each doing their jobs without getting in each other’s way.”

More information about the courses and how to register can be found at okanagan.bc.ca/filmindustry.