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Ryerson grads rule: Graduates nab top film awards

By Kenny Yum

Despite problems with Ryerson’s Film and Photography department, Ryerson graduates have won top awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television’s National Apprenticeship Training Program at the end of May.

Film graduates Rebecca Wood and John Tran respectively won awards for screenwriting and cinematography, and RTA student Elias Devries was named Toronto’s top film and television graduate, winning the City of Toronto Screen Apprenticeship Award. He will apprentice at a production company of his choice.

The award-winners were selected from 130 film and video students from across Canada. The Film and Photography department grabbed considerable attention last spring due to departmental in-fighting. Instructors at odds with then-chair Gaile McGregor forced her resignation.

Despite tensions, students’ work is well respected in the film industry.

“Ryerson always turns out a phenomenal amount of upper class students,” said Academy spokeswoman Jody Scotchmer.

“Self-motivated (students)…take what they get in class and go out and make their own projects,” said award-winner Rebecca Wood.

“The city places a high value in the film industry,” said Mayor Barbara Hall, who hosted the awards ceremony. Toronto’s film industry has grown tremendously since the mid-80s and injects over $600 million into the local economy each year.

In spite of this growth, getting a job in the industry can be a daunting task. Graduating students often need professional experience first. The apprenticeship program gives the students a chance to break into the industry.

For Wood, winning the award makes her career goals more attainable. “I was out looking for a production assistant job,” said Wood. “This (apprenticeship) is going to change that because I want to work as a writer.”

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