When Yorkville University professor Ralph Silva tasked his Bachelor of Creative Arts students with artistically showcasing an identifiable culture through a lens of their choosing, he had no idea the calibre of work that would result – in fact, he was “blown away.”
“They all went way, way, way above and beyond my expectations. Every one of them did original work,” Silva said, noting that the submissions ranged from short films and photo essays to drawings and costumes.
“I was blown away at what they accomplished and they got very good marks because of it – the best marks I’ve ever given, and they were well deserved.”
An end-of-term assignment for his Creative Arts in a Cultural Context class – a course in the first term of the Bachelor of Creative Arts program – the project was one Silva at first thought might be too ambitious, even though he himself designed it.
“I actually had to reach out to my colleagues at Toronto Film School to find out if I was a bit crazy and if I was asking them too much,” he laughed.
“But everyone supported it, and I’m really happy it worked out this way because what I got back was fantastic stuff, fantastic stuff.”
Silva was so impressed with the work that he wanted to showcase the following students and their project videos:
Chevon Francis – Jab Jab
I am originally from a beautiful island in the Caribbean called Grenada. My creative background started professionally at the age of 25. Ever since I could remember, I have always been interested in the creative arts – so much so that I was a self-taught videographer for five years before moving to Canada and furthering my education at Toronto Film School. During this time, I have had some achievements on my own, which include music videos, commercials, documentaries and, most recently, as the editor for two sixth-term short films. I’m also currently a teacher’s assistant to Craig Mckay for Editing at Toronto Film School. I have a natural passion for this industry, and I always find myself wanting to learn more and become more experienced. Also, being a woman of color in this industry is difficult. Not many opportunities are handed to us and I think educating myself would help me reach the goals that I want to.
I chose to enroll in the BCA program to learn more about the business side of the industry. I believe that being versed in both the technical and theory side of the industry is a huge asset. While I believe that my experience and skills obtained during Toronto Film School have been useful, there’s still a lot more I want to learn before I fully head out into the industry. My career objective is to become a script supervisor/editor, and this program will prepare me with the confidence and sense of leadership that would be expected of me.
About Chevon’s Jab Jab Film:
The name of my video is called Jab Jab. When we were first assigned this project, I was a bit skeptical of choosing this topic, because by watching the video people may assume it is demonic, which it is not. So, I decided that I would do a short documentary explaining the culture of Jab Jab and why we celebrate it every year. My strong point has always been editing, so I thought what better way to portray this project than by visually letting people experience the culture. I hope from watching this video people get a better understanding about a small piece of my culture.
Ralph Silva’s Comments:
“Chevon was quiet – she said maybe 15 words the whole class, so my initial impression was that she was this middle of the group type of person. But then I saw her film. I’m a television broadcaster, so speaking is my business, but I didn’t know what to say. It was just way, way above any expectations I had for this assignment…it’s top-notch.”
Felipe Domingo Guzmán Gomez Aguado – Soledad
I’m a photographer with 11 years of experience. In 2017, I enrolled in the Film Production program at Toronto Film School to expand my work into cinematography and this year I was contacted by Yorkville University regarding the Bachelor of Creative Arts program. I saw it as a nice way to complement my career. Currently, I work as a freelance photographer, cinematographer and video editor.
About Felipe’s Soledad Film:
My film talks about the way the pandemic has impacted the lives of teenagers. Those years are an important part of our development and removing the social aspect of the experience would have been devastating for me. As for what I hope people take away from the film, I believe art should be a conversation. I don’t want to tell people what to think or feel when they watch the film, I prefer (and enjoy) hearing people’s interpretations and how it may relate to their experiences.
Ralph Silva’s Comments:
“Why I find Felipe’s film incredibly appropriate is because he is a bit shy – and when you look at how he put this together, it’s not only about his culture, but about somebody who is shy in this culture. So, he put himself out there and exposed his own insecurities within this – and he did it freely, which is a great sign of maturity for someone who is so young.”
Kyle James – Trinitalians
My name is Kyle James, I’m 22 years old, and I’m an independent filmmaker (writer/director/ editor/). I was born in Markham, and raised in Scarborough by my parents and grandparents. I am a TFS alumnus, and having taken the Writing for Film & Television program was one of the best life decisions I have ever made. Up until that point, I had never been so engaged and fascinated with school — and to my surprise, the BCA program at Yorkville gives me the same feeling of hope and excitement. Both schools have genuinely created a comfortable and nurturing environment that both values and inspires creative people like myself.
Upon having a brief conversation with Adam Till, about what would later become the Bachelor of Creative Arts program, I immediately knew that I wanted to enrol. Having had such a great experience at TFS it was rather easy to persuade me to take a university program about creative entrepreneurship. I felt that this opportunity aligned perfectly with my goals for the future. Currently, I’m the owner of a sole proprietorship/upcoming entertainment company that I intend to use to further my career as a writer/director. The plan is to have two websites, one where you can watch short films and podcasts, and another in which you can purchase comic books and/or merchandise — all of which would be content (and products) either written directed, edited, starring, created, or distributed by me (or a few of my close friends who also happen to be TFS alumni).
About Kyle’s Trinitalians Film:
My mockumentary short film, Trinitalians, is a comedic cultural exploration of an interracial (Trinidadian and Italian) family living in the suburb of Stoney Creek, Ontario. The idea for the short film evolved from an idea my aunt had pitched to me for a sitcom (which we still intend to create). Essentially the sitcom is like a black Canadian version of Workin’ Moms, but filmed like Modern Family. My vision for this project was to create a proof of concept for the series and to simultaneously create a short film that worked within the guidelines of an assignment I had for one of my classes. In order to do so, I contacted my aunt (and cousins; the Gennaro family) and arranged a day to go to her house in Stoney Creek and film.
The main thing I want people to take away from this mockumentary is that comedy transcends race and cultural backgrounds; and that with just enough context, things that are funny in one culture can be to another. But also, I feel like there aren’t enough shows with people of colour as the protagonists, and in my personal opinion I feel that there especially aren’t enough shows with strong black female leads; and I don’t just mean in American sitcoms, I mean in Canadian television and film. We’re one of the most, if not the most, culturally diverse places in the world, and yet our media fails to represent that. I want every short film, feature film and TV show that I create throughout my career to represent groups of people on screen who have been previously misrepresented or drastically underrepresented.
Ralph Silva comments:
“Kyle was very vocal and had lots of opinions in class – and you can see in his film. He basically storyboarded the whole thing, got his friends involved, got people to do cameras, and it was just fantastic. He used archive footage to bring in some history and added some new elements to bring in some personal opinion. It should have taken a lot longer than it did. I wouldn’t have expected that from a student, because it takes a long time to do that, but he’s really skilled.”
Tan Dhingra – You Belong – A Closer Look at a Hyphenated Identity
I was born in Haryana, India and grew up in Dubai. At 17, I was living in San Diego; and by 19, Toronto. Where did I belong in this series of disorienting moves? Somewhere between belonging and not-belonging, feeling at home and then feeling on the outside of things. I felt displaced sometimes and other times, I felt right where I was supposed to be. Culture has been a whirlwind for me.
I’m fascinated by the act of expression, not limited nor constrained by artistic domain and categorization. Film for me is somewhat of a perfect playground to fuse many artistic domains. From mixing music to photography to graffiti and my own existence itself – all of these are captured within the frame.
My philosophy with art is a very lived approach. Imagine that your life, however long that ends up being, is on canvas. Each moment is another splatter of vibrant paint onto it. Stroke after stroke, colour after colour, beat following and melting into another beat. This painting, this song, never seems to end, until finally, it does. When you realize that your life is art, every moment becomes a mesmerizing painting, every song becomes a call to action, every photograph feels alive.
I chose to do the BCA program to get a better grasp of the fundamentals of the industry and to push myself to create more. As for future career goals, I would love to build community through artistic expression and collective participation, and eventually end up running my own Tantric wellness centre.
About Tan’s You Belong – A Closer Look at a Hyphenated Identity Film:
I learned about Indo-Caribbean people when I met a Trinidadian friend in Toronto. It was weird. I had no clue about the existence of Indian people in the Caribbean. And not just that -they have been in the Caribbean for generations. Under the name of “Indentured Servitude,” they were plucked from their native lands through colonial trickery. They were thrown into a new world.
Over the course of this “Vlogumentary”, I tackle my own ignorance and work towards understanding. I aimed to present the audience with my own journey in learning more about this vast culture, and the relations it had to my own identity. This film was intended to shine some light on the faces in my every day, and how this multiculturalism defines what Canadian Culture is today.
I hope that this video helps you see beyond the divides, domains and restraints. I hope it challenges your thoughts or helps strengthen your opinions. Simply put, I’d hope you take away that your voice matters, you have a place here and that you belong.
Ralph Silva comments:
“The way he started his video-based as (a desktop documentary style), I thought was just absolutely fantastic, but he also incorporated a whole story in it, and he incorporated the idea of images, with a picture of a woman that he went out and plastered around Toronto. He went out into the parks and under the bridges and had that conversation style…It was very good, fantastic work. I have no doubt he’s going to be an extraordinary filmmaker because he is so passionate about it.”
Thomas Moray – Colombia
My name is Thomas, I’m 25 years old and I’m French-Argentinian. Before enrolling in the BCA program, I was working as a Motion Designer in France. I decided to move to Canada to become a director and I found that this program had the insights I needed to develop my career further. In the future, I would like to direct music videos and features, where I could mix live-action footage with my knowledge in Graphic Design and Animation.
About Thomas’ Colombia film:
My video, Colombia, was part of an assignment we had to do for Ralph Silva’s class, Creative Arts in Cultural Context, where we had to learn about and represent a culture with artistic creation. My partner is Colombian, so for the past year, I’ve been discovering her culture. This video was a way to celebrate her and her culture, as well as getting to know her better and where she is from. I decided to do a mix of real footage and graphics. I created patterns and colour palettes, inspired by the colourful landscape of Colombia. I then wanted to make those patterns come alive with movement, so I rotoscoped footage of Colombian dancers.
My goal with this project is to celebrate Colombia as the colourful and joyful place it is. A place that is represented by the warmth of its people. I made this video to show the love I have for my partner and her culture.
Ralph Silva’s comments:
“His use of sound is something we never talked about in class – we never got to the point where we discussed the power of culture and elements of sound. The piece was perfect and it must have taken him forever to do. Rotoscoping is an incredibly complex thing to do and he mastered it – from the colour schemes to the movements he selected, to everything being perfectly in synch…it was really top-notch work.”