By Arts Editor Cheryl Folland

After taking transit to a local Tim Hortons in the early morning hours on January 28, and purchasing the largest double-double I could get my hands on, I climbed into a van with three members of Nanaimo’s Film Industry and began the short trek to Victoria BC. We were headed down to the Reel Jobs in Film Career Fair, sponsored by GT Hiring Solutions and Vancouver Island South Media and Film Commission, promised leading experts in all things industry related. What they weren’t banking on, was the turn out.

“This morning, a colleague thought 80 pamphlets would be enough,” an event staffer said. “The event started at 11 am and I was already out of materials by 10:45 am.”

As of 11:30 am, the lines to get into the venue were around the block. Hundreds of people with resumes in hand waited outside the Pacific Fleet Club, located at 1587 Lyall Street in Victoria BC, for a chance to talk with film industry employers. Inside, the rooms were at capacity as guests waited in line, body to body, to chat with the area of film production that held their interest.

After waiting in line for 20 minutes to talk to production manager Fabiola Arias, I was able to ask her a few questions about how to break into film production.

“Your best bet is to start as a location production assistant. It’s not glamorous.” Arias said. “You’ll be working long hours keeping the set quiet during filming, redirecting traffic, and running errands. This position is perfect for those willing to work their way up, as you have to be willing to do just about anything.”

Arias knows what she’s talking about. As part of Reel Job’s first panel discussion, she outlined her journey from the bottom up and gave some great pointers for aspiring production buffs.

“In this business, it’s not only who you know, it’s all about availability.” Arias said. “Be available. If someone calls offering you a job as production assistant, say yes and figure out the rest later.”

Co-panelist Kate agreed, saying, “I was in school for accounting when Fabiola called me saying one of her staff was unable to make it. She asked me if I could come do Set Dec. It’s like packing up a whole house, moving it to another location and repeating the process many times in a day until production is finished.”

Kate explained how saying yes to multiple opportunities led her to move up rather quickly. “Availability is key, and having your own car. Production will often rent your car from you, which covers the cost of gas for all the errands you’ll run as an assistant.”

From set design and lighting to local directors and creative arts schools, the Reel Jobs in Film Career Fair was a huge success. The only complaints were from those who waited in line for hours to get in, which reflects the Island’s film boom. With Hallmark movies, streaming series, and major motion pictures being filmed in our backyard, next year’s fair is certain to be bigger and better.

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