Film students join mission to Berlin

2/28/2024 8:53:13 AM

STEPHENVILLE, NL – A team of film students from College of the North Atlantic (CNA) campuses in Stephenville and St. John’s recently took advantage of an extraordinary opportunity to attend one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, Germany’s Berlin International Film Festival – commonly known as Berlinale.

They joined the province’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation as well as representatives of Picture NL, and local industry leaders on the mission to Berlin, in an effort to highlight Newfoundland and Labrador as a premiere destination for television and film production.

“Going to premieres with the other film students was a highlight for me,” said Oliver Bartlett, a Television and Film Technical Production student at CNA’s Film and Media Production Centre. “Seeing the stars on the red carpet and in the theatre with us was surreal and I'm glad I got to experience it with people who appreciated it as much as I did. Being able to explore Berlin with people who all have common interests was a great way for us to all get to know each other.”

Bartlett said the students were able to meet a variety of people already working in the industry, who shared valuable insights and information that will help them build successful careers in television and film.

Bree Downey, a Digital Filmmaking student at the Bay St. George campus, said it was wonderful to meet people who make films happen globally, including producers and directors.

“To hear everyone speak of film making in an artistic way with also discussing the business side is something we need more of, and we need both to work together,” she said. “The most valuable piece of information is that you can make films anywhere about anything as long as you want it bad enough. With changing political climates, financial situations in flux and the use of AI and all the simplified equipment, we should be using everything to our advantage. You can't do it alone and we need to get together now more than ever. Film making is about people meeting people and telling each other stories.”

It's a sentiment shared by Travis Lucas, a fellow Digital Filmmaking student.

“Attending Berlinale and having the opportunity to be around other filmmakers and people from the film industry really helped put how the film industry works into perspective, and that is going to be infinitely valuable moving forward,” he said.

The students also met with industry leaders from this province. Producers Mark O’Neill and Lisa Porter offered generous guidance, while Laura Churchill and Jenny Hawley of Picture NL organized a seminar for the students at the Canadian Embassy.

“I think the most valuable thing I learned from this experience was that it’s never too late to get involved and learn new things,” Bartlett added. “I went as an 18-year-old, and we had students in their 20s, 30s, and 40s all travelling together. I learned a lot about the industry as I met and spoke with lots of people, meeting them was also great for networking experience. Since film is such a social industry, this will benefit me as I get better and continue building connections within the industry.”

Television and Film Instructor Ben Smith said the mission was inspiring.

“The students were able to take in screenings of the amazing films being showcased, as well as the film market itself where they had a very unique opportunity to see the inner workings of the industry and how deals and development partnerships are made,” he said, noting industry partners even scored the students an invite for the exclusive Telefilm gala.

“The students were also able to take advantage of all the local sights and sounds with their guide who toured them through the historic parts of Berlin, where they visited museums, the best cafes and got try the local cuisine,” he added. “Truly a unique experience that could not have happened anywhere else. They have all returned inspired and energized to start working on their own projects with a new level of excitement and confidence.”
Film students from the Prince Philip Drive and Bay St. George campuses joined the mission to Berlin to experience one of the world's most prestigious film festivals.
Campus Manager Ray Fennelly is a fixture of the province’s television and film industry and joined the students for the trip. He said it was an incredible experience, noting they were there when CNA TV and Film instructor Tamara Segura announced her new film will have its world premiere in two prestigious international film festivals. The students were among the first to hear the news, showing the benefits of making connections in the biggest film market.

“The students experienced one of the largest film festivals in the world and saw the industry players working in a very unique environment,” he said. “Outside of the industry connections and the massive schmoozing they also got to experience one of the most dynamic cities in the world.”

Fennelly thanked CNA President and CEO Liz Kidd, Vice President - Academics and Applied Research Jason Rolls, and Dean of Academics, Applied Arts and Tourism Davida Smith for suggesting the students get to experience the Berlinale.


Media Contact:

Ryan Crocker
Content Specialist
College of the North Atlantic
P: (709) 699-8981