New college course teaches TV and film production skills to Indigenous students on Vancouver Island

Eight students are the first to graduate from a new Vancouver Island program that helps give Indigenous students the skills they need to enter the booming film and TV industry.

The students graduated from the inaugural year of the "Indigenous Production Assistant" course at North Island College, in partnership with the North Island Film Commission and Mid-Island Metis Association.

"I'm pretty eager. I live in Victoria, B.C., and there's like 15 Hallmark [movies] filmed there a year, which is pretty good if I want to be a P.A. (production assistant)," said graduate Castor Angus.

The course spanned 12 weeks and covered everything from traffic control to food safety.

"I really discovered a lot of the behind the scenes of film, and I think it made me appreciate the end credits of movies more, knowing what each of these parts of a film crew do," said graduate Talela Manson.

North Island College and the North Island Film Commission have been working together on developing motion picture skills training for the past five years.

"There's so much interest now from the motion picture industry into diversifying our crew base," said Joan Miller, North Island Film commissioner.

"It's a big push in many industries right now, but it's really key in British Columbia right now, so there was a lot of excitement from our producers, from the unions, they're watching this program really closely," she said.

Course coordinator Aimee Chalifoux believes the employment prospects for program graduates are high.

"Oh, [the industry] is huge on Vancouver Island and B.C., and now with COVID being gone I think it's going to go pretty quick," she said.

The next Indigenous Production Assistant course at North Island College is set to begin in October.