ESA Film is a community of young artists using film as a vehicle for self-exploration and critical analysis.
Through its core values of respect, community and creative expression, the program provides students with a safe, rewarding and nurturing environment. Tailored to the unique challenges facing adolescents, ESA Film translates personal exploration and self-awareness into compelling and visually exciting films reflective of the student’s own creative voice. Film students develop their own cinematic style through the analysis of contemporary and historical films, and focus on the nuances involved in evoking emotional responses within their audiences. In order to do that, students learn how to write, direct, film, and edit their own movies.
The program’s objective is to help young people think critically about their world and their place within it while developing the confidence and skills to effectively communicate those thoughts in an emotionally and intelligently resonant manner. The belief is that an education in Film will give students the strength and skills to pursue whatever awaits them in their future.
ESA Film works hard at providing its students with a truly unique high school experience with annual trips to The Toronto International Film Festival and Hot Docs, a yearly showcase of Grad films at The Tiff Bell Lightbox and an emphasis on the building of a strong departmental community. In addition to working with guest artists from the professional film community, students have many opportunities to showcase their own work in a number of ESA sponsored film fests. The excellence of those films produced by our students has been recognized globally, as ESA Film majors continue to screen work and win awards at numerous International Film Festivals. Many ESA graduates are currently studying film at a number of the best post-secondary institutions across North America, as well as pursuing successful careers as filmmakers.
An Introduction to Film at ESA
Samples of Student Work
Charlotte Lam’s Half and Half
Maximum Brauch’s Leviticus
Ryan Manning’s Jailbirds
ADV 1O1 – FILM STUDIES AND PRE-PRODUCTION
This introductory course acts as a sampler to a variety of filmmaking modes. It combines an in-depth analysis of basic filming and editing techniques as seen in contemporary, mainstream feature films with an ongoing introduction to alternative and experimental modes of cinematic, video and contemporary art. It finishes by studying a variety of documentary approaches.
AWR 1O1 – FILM PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION
This course, to be run concurrently with, and building on the ideas developed within ADV1O1, will concentrate on developing the production aspects of filmmaking. Students will work co-operatively to translate their ideas to the screen, as they focus on filming, lighting, sound recording and editing. Particular attention is paid to the art of documentary filmmaking as a means of exploring truth.
ADV 2O1 – FILM STUDIES AND PRE-PRODUCTION
In this course, complementary to AWR2O1, students will focus on screenwriting and storytelling with an emphasis on genre theory and an examination of the ways in which specific genres operate according to sets of filmmaking conventions. The course will explore the artistic and technical language employed by each specific genre as well as the ideological positions implied within the film texts.
AWR 2O1 – FILM PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION
This course, to be run concurrently with, and building on the ideas developed within ADV2O1, builds upon the fundamentals of film production explored in AWR1O1. Students using the technical, theoretical and stylistic conventions studied in ADV will move towards developing their own visual style and narrative voice.
ASM 2O1 – FILM ELECTIVES
These introductory courses focus on an in-depth analysis of basic filming and editing techniques as seen in both historical and contemporary, mainstream feature and short films. In addition, these courses will introduce students to the art of storytelling, through plot development and storyboarding, with an emphasis on crafting dramatic arc. Students will also concentrate on developing the production aspects of filmmaking, as they focus on writing, filming, lighting, sound recording and editing.
ADV3M1 – FILM STUDIES AND PRE-PRODUCTION
This course, offered in conjunction with AWR3M1, will explore the evolution of filmmaking with a focus on examining historical and theoretical movements in cinema. Students will examine the transformation of cinema as it unfolds within social, cultural and political settings. In addition to situating film within a historical framework, students will also examine a range of theoretical approaches to film studies such as semiotics, feminist film theory, and spectatorship theory. Additionally, the course will focus strongly on narrative and scriptwriting begun in the previous years.
AWR3M1 -FILM PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION
This course, to be run concurrently with ADV3M1, focuses on the practical application of the ideas explored in ADV3M1. Students will apply the various theoretical and historical strategies as they work towards formulating their own filmmaking “voice” and gravitate towards filmmaking areas that speak to their areas of interest as they prepare themselves for their final year in the program.
ASM 3O1 – FILM ELECTIVE
This intermediate course explores the evolution of filmmaking with a focus on examining historical and theoretical movements in cinema. Additionally, students will focus on screenwriting and storytelling, as they work towards formulating their own filmmaking voice, while at the same time refining their production techniques.
ADV 4M1 – FILM THEORY
This course builds on the theoretical framework developed in ADV 3M1 by focusing on the influence and achievements of notable filmmakers (directors, writers, cinematographers, editors, etc…) throughout the history of cinema. In doing this, students will be introduced to a wide range of important films, theories and techniques, further honing the sophistication of their own analysis and productions.
AWR 4M1 – FILM PRODUCTION AND POST-PRODUCTION
This course focuses on the practical application of the ideas explored in ADV 4M1, moving towards a refinement of each student’s skill, knowledge and filmmaking style. Students will produce a body of work demonstrating a personal vision and style.
ASM 4M1 – FILM ELECTIVE
This senior level course focuses on the influence and achievements of notable filmmakers (directors, writers, cinematographers, editors, etc…) throughout the history of cinema. In doing this, students will be introduced to a wide range of important films, theories and techniques, further honing the sophistication of their own analysis and producing a body of work demonstrating a personal vision and style.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need my own camera?
Although, it doesn’t hurt to have one, students are, by no means, required to own a video camera. The department owns a number of cameras that are dedicated to student use and can be taken off of school property.
Do I need my own computer for editing?
No, the department has a number of computers that serve as editing suites and the lab is open before and after school as well as at lunch.
Do I need to have any film making experience?
No, the department is more interested in students with creative ideas and the ability to work with others than it is with technical expertise coming out of grade 8.
How long is the Film audition?
Because the department wants to get as clear a picture of each applicant as possible before making a decision, the Film audition runs for roughly two hours, and features a written film critique, a short interview in which the student’s prepared pitch idea will be discussed, and a team building exercise with other applicants.
What editing platforms does the program use?
The Film department uses Adobe Premiere Pro, although ESA Film students tend to edit on a variety of platforms including but not limited to Final Cut Pro, HitFilm, Davinci Resolve and Sony Vegas.