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Film at ESA

ESA Film is a community of young artists
using film as a vehicle for self-exploration and critical analysis.

Petra Kim’s “Vincent”
Callahan Bracken’s “Sewn”
Claire Stradwick & Charlotte Lam’s “Voyeur”
Will Graham and Joey Phillipson’s “The Wanderers”

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.

ESA Film online can be found on Youtube at The Film Shack and on Instagram.

An Introduction to Film at ESA

Samples of Student Work

Charlotte Lam’s Half and Half

Maximum Brauch’s Leviticus

Ryan Manning’s Jailbirds

Course Descriptions

Pathway for Incoming Grade 9 Students (2024-25 School Year)

Spotlight Course: ADV 1OP – Film/ Video Production
This introductory course, by combining 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, will concentrate
on developing the production aspects of filmmaking. Students will work cooperatively to
translate their ideas to the screen, as they focus on filming, lighting, sound recording and
editing in the development of their own short films.

Elective Course: AWR 1OP – Film/ Video Creation
This course, either as an introduction to filmmaking or as further development of the skills
developed in ADV 1OP, explores a wide range of filmmaking modes, allowing students the
opportunity to develop their unique artistic voices as filmmakers. In refining their
cinematographic, audio and post-production skills, students in creating their own short films
will develop work that reflects their developing worldview.

Pathway for Current Students (Students currently in Grade 9, 10 or 11)

ADV 2O1 – Film/ Video Production
In this course, 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 and ideological positions. Students will again demonstrate their
learning of these concepts by making films that build from these theoretical lessons but reflect
their own artistic voice.

AWR 2O1 – Film/ Video Creation
This course, building on the ideas developed within ADV2O1, focusses on Canadian cinema and
Indigenous filmmaking as a starting point to discuss Film as a personal vehicle of expression as
well as a reflection of or reaction against larger societal values. Students, using this framework,
will again produce work that reflects their continued artistic development.

ADV3M1 – Film/ Video Production
This course 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. Additionally, the course will focus strongly
on narrative and scriptwriting begun in the previous years, as students continue the
development of their cinematic style.

AWR3M1 – Film/ Video Creation
In this course, students will examine a range of theoretical approaches to film studies such as
semiotics, feminist film theory, and spectatorship theory. 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.

ADV 4M1 – Film/ Video Production
This course, by focusing on the influence and achievements of notable filmmakers (directors,
writers, cinematographers, editors, etc…) throughout the history of cinema, will introduce
students to a wide range of important films, theories and techniques, further honing the
sophistication of their own analysis and continuing their growth as filmmakers.

AWR 4M1 – Film/ Video Creation
In this student-driven course of study, students will determine the curricular films 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.

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 filmmaking 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.

What editing platforms does the program use?
The Film department uses Adobe Premiere Pro and the Adobe Creative Suite. 

If you have any questions please contact Kevin Johnson, ACL of Film, at