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September/October 2021

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rowing up in a ski town, watching films like Star Wars and Lord of The Rings, the world of Hollywood (or Hobbiton) seemed like another whole planet. Even as a little kid, I always want- ed to "make movies," but I never really realized it was actually a tangible reality. Although the town of Whistler, where I grew up, is only a few hours up the Sea to Sky highway from the city of Vancouver, aptly nicknamed Hollywood North, those visions of making movies and working on large films and television shows seemed like an impossible dream. When you're still a kid, it can be hard to know what path to take in life. I knew I wanted to create those same amazing shots I was seeing on my tiny, old CRT television, but the path towards that seemed like it just didn't exist. How do you even start? For myself, that journey started through making small ski movies with my friends, or even just goofy, little stop-mo- tion videos with my older sister. Whistler is home to The World Ski and Snowboard Festival, so most of my direct relationship with filmmaking came through that side of things — action sports. Eventually, as the internet became more a part of our everyday lives, I came across a couple of small YouTube channels, like Corridor Digital and Freddie Wong. These YouTube channels seemed like a couple of guys who were basically the older versions of my group of childhood friends: a group of friends making films that emulated the big Hollywood produc- tions I longed to be a part of. Through watching their videos and their behind- the-scenes making-of and tutorials, it started to seem like an approachable goal. I could make an action movie too! Of course, it was never going to be that easy, but I rounded up my buddies and we swapped out our skis for some toy guns and set off into the neighbor- hood to film our first big Hollywood pro- duction. The end result was, of course, hilariously janky, but I remember how stoked everyone was that we were able to add 'real' muzzle flashes to the guns! As soon as I composited that first shot, I was hooked. Now that we were entering high school, we had the option of taking some elective classes. One in particular I was extremely excited about: 'Graphic Layout and Design'. It wasn't exactly filmmaking, but being able to spend an entire block of high school messing around in Photoshop quickly made GLD my favourite class. We had an absolutely-incredible teacher, named Georgina Titus, who was incredibly encouraging and happy to bend the curriculum to whatever her students were passionate about. I no- ticed a couple of shortcuts on the school computers to programs called 3ds Max and Softimage, and remember asking her about them. Mrs. Titus informed me that she herself didn't really have any experience in 3D software packages, but if I was able to mess around and learn something, and ideally teach some of the other students how to use these programs, she'd be happy to use that as the basis for my grade in her class. I couldn't believe it — real 3D graphics! I jumped right in and started learning how to crudely model, animate and light little 3D scenes. I was just having fun and learn- ing, but what I didn't realize at the time that I was actually forming the foundation for what would become my future career. Through the end of high school, I kept learning 3D software and making short films with my friends, often filled with over-the-top blood spray ele- ments, explosions and always a handful of muzzle flashes. During my final year, my only real plan for the future was 'I want to make movies', and so close to the end of my formative years, I still didn't really know what the path to that future was. That same group of friends I'd made all those little films with we're all applying to universities to pursue 'real jobs'. I felt pretty lost around this time. Was I losing my film crew? During the final months of high school, my sister was back visiting home, and on a whim, we attended an open house at Think Tank Training Centre in North Vancouver. We'd always made stop-mo- tion videos together, so it seemed like it might be a fun thing to check out an ani- mation school together for an afternoon. The moment we entered TTTC, I knew that this is where I wanted to come for my secondary education. They were going to teach us how to use 3D programs and how to composite shots! There's actually a school for this? My mind was blown, it seems silly, but until that day, I'd never re- ally realized what a prolific city Vancouver is for not only its film productions, but also the quality of post secondary educa- tion for filmmaking and VFX. I spent the year after high school work- ing at a ski and snowboard clothing store, and hoped that I'd hear back from Think Tank with a letter of acceptance. After that year of work, I finally received my letter of acceptance to TTTC and made the move from my hometown, down to Vancouver to attend classes. My time at Think Tank was amazing! I learned more than I could have ever have hoped for and met so many amazing people. One in particular was my mentor Landon Bootsma. Landon ended up recommending me for a junior compos- iting role with his childhood friend Chris van Dyck. Chris recently formed a small studio called CVD VFX, and it had grown to the point that he now needed to start hiring other artists. I'll never forget my first time walking into the first CVD office — essentially two fancy janitor's closets with a hole in the wall between them. I didn't know it NORTH OF HOLLYWOOD NORTH BY FENNER ROCKLIFFE FROCKLIFFE@GMAIL.COM FINDING THE PATH TO THE BUSINESS OF VFX G 30 POST SEPT/OCT 2021 Fillory, from The Magicians' series finale. CAREERS

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