THE LITTLE SCHOOL THAT COULD
In the spring of ’95, GIFTS was little more than a dream taking root in the minds of a small group of visionaries. Today, it’s the creative epicenter of Canada’s emerging media makers!
The brainchild of maverick entrepreneur George Harris and a handful of leading Canadian filmmakers, GIFTS is the only rural camp in Canada dedicated to training adults and youth in digital media production. Since its inception, thousands have experienced GIFTS’ innovative 2 to 12 day digital production intensives. Together, students have created a large iconic collection of award winning dramas, documentaries and classical and computer animations which have become the content for the widely viewed channel www.youtube.com/giftsfilms.
Not your average school, GIFTS practices learning by doing and boasts a faculty not of teachers but of award-winning media professionals: Velcrow Ripper, Jennifer Abbot, Peter Campbell, Richard Reeves, Brian Murphy, Nettie Wild, Cal Johnson, Pia Massie, and Jill Sharp, among others. GIFTS also prides itself in the ongoing contribution of it’s successful alumni, such as Rachel Fortier, Brett Gaylor, Adam Jones, Zach Lipovsky, Leanne Allison, and Diana Wilson, who have found incredible success in their careers since attending GIFTS, yet continue to return year after year to mentor other up and coming filmmakers.
GIFTS’ meteor-like ascendancy is partially due to its unique blend of rustic and high tech: students get access to state of the art media production technology while enjoying the peace, quiet and beauty of a lush island locale.
The work produced in this ideal environment has captured the attention and support of the likes of The National Film Board, The Directors Guild of Canada, The Moscow International Film School, the BC Ministry of Education, BC Film, the Union of BC Performers, ICBC, BC Hydro, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the Capital Regional District, and the Access to Media Education Society. The new world order of on-line moving images has placed GIFTS in a unique position of content provider and successful technology trainer. The caliber of the work is also reflected in the hundreds of awards that GIFTS’ productions have landed at national and international film and video festivals.
The doors of opportunity that GIFTS is opening don’t stop here. On the strength of the work produced at GIFTS, numerous grads have gone on to start their own indie production houses, into the top film programs at universities across the country, landed jobs in the media world and made the life long connections that are essential in today’s digital revolution.