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TIFF: One Year Later


A year ago I had the chance to attend the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time. I had only heard about it over the years through news articles, blogs and TV coverage. Like everything on TV, it doesn’t seem real until you get to see it in person. Sure enough, I got to see “Monsters” directed by newcomer Gareth Edwards and even got to ask him a question after the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should do so as soon as you can.

I also got to see “John Carpenter’s The Ward” his first movie in nine years. A horror movie, of course. Not his best one, but still pretty solid work from one of the masters of horror.

My friend Shannon Scott, who used to work for the festival, was nice enough to explain to me where I could buy tickets and what places to visit. I would have bought tickets for every day of the week, but I was living off student loans and was starting a semester at Sheridan College, in Oakville. Still, thanks for the information Shannon.

At the time I was studying Journalism-New Media, a very useful post-graduate program. Professionals from the media industry teach you the latest technology used in news agencies including Final Cut, Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash. They teach you how to shoot footage using Sony-XD cams, how to edit, how to write for print, how to write for the web and how to work in a professional newsroom. In short, everything you need to know to be a journalist in this brave new world of blogs, Twitter, Google+ and whatever is coming next.

Now, one year later, TIFF is back to kick off Oscar season. My long-term dream would be to join the hundreds of journalists, bloggers and movie fans with Twitter accounts currently attending the festival. It would be a joy to attend a premiere, interview someone as a professional from the industry and most importantly, review dozens of movies. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

A lot of my fellow students found internships in the Toronto area following the end of the semester. Some of these led to jobs, some didn’t. My internship was in the small town of Perpignan, in the South of France. Because classes ended in April and the internship began in late June, I found myself with no other choice but to move back to my mom’s apartment in Quebec City (where unfortunately most of the movies don’t play in the original language). The internship itself was great: I got to meet some of the best people I had ever had the pleasure of working with, I got to work as an interpreter, and I now have a published feature story (inperpignan.net).

Now the internship is over, I am home once again and like Alexis Bledel “Post Grad” I am vehemently trying to enter the job market. (Although my grandma is nothing like Carol Burnett.) I try to send job applications every day to any news agency, whether the job is in Rouyn-Noranda, Winnipeg, Montreal, or Tilsonburg. So far my only interview has been with the editor of AskMen.com in Montreal. He was very nice, but three weeks later I am getting the impression I didn’t get the job.

I still write about movies of course. The few people who read this blog know that once a week I review movies that are part of Empire magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Movies of All Times. I try to make my reviews stand out by saying where and when I first saw these movies.

It was the idea of my Introduction to News Gathering and Writing teacher, Ken Wolff, to make my blog different. We all had to blog as part of our homework and I had been writing amateur reviews since early 2009. Ken pointed out that writing reviews on the web is too generic, so I should try to make it more journalistic. I suggested the list approach and he agreed that added something. Sometimes I am describing an experience, such as when I am remembering the first time I saw a truly groundbreaking movie, and sometimes the movie just so happened to play on TV one night. Life can be boring like that.

So, what are my hopes for next year’s TIFF? My ultimate goal would be that a year from now I will be living in Toronto, I will have a job with a reasonable salary, I will reunite with my friends from Sheridan and I will be able to work the festival. I don’t care if I work behind the scenes, in front of the camera, if I write about it or if they put me in charge of monitoring Twitter feeds. As long as I get to watch the movies and revisit the TIFF Bell Lighthouse I would be happy.

In the meantime, I can’t afford to give up. I will keep on sending resumes and cover letters every day until something happens. I can still keep track of the festival thanks to active bloggers like Roger Ebert, Grace Wang, the people at Movies.com and the people at Moviefone. Maybe next year, maybe the year after, or five years from now, I hope to join them.  

Oh, and best of luck to everyone from JNM (Journalism-New Media) still looking for a job. I’ll see you around.  


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