WHAT IS GIFTS?
Since 1995 The Gulf Islands Film and Television School (GIFTS) has been fostering the creative growth of junior (age 10-14), youth (15-18), adults (19+), school groups, French immersion schools and aboriginal bands from around the world. Our spring and summer”Media Intensive” programs have proven to be successful not only in equipping students with theoretical and technical training in media production, but also in increasing confidence and self-worth.The GIFTS model provides an excellent alternative to classroom education. At our live-in facility, students are immersed in a hands-on film making experience with industry professionals guiding them through each stage of the production process. This unique learning model has inspired and produced stunning transformational changes. The result is emerging media makers that can realize their true talent and potential. Every student leaves with a completed short film in our 6 or 13 day courses. Our students leave GIFTS empowered to continue to create.
As pioneers in the digital media revolution, GIFTS’ instructors understand that new media producers must appreciate the importance of a good story well told, and have the ability to weave the technical with the creative using limited resources. The emphasis is on helping students to become media artists, not just cogs in the entertainment industry. The focus is on independent do-it-yourself rapid production, and the result is an out-pouring of creative energy and dedication that surprises everyone that views our students’ productions.
WHY AND HOW WE DO IT
GIFTS empowers new media makers.
We give our students confidence in their own creative vision and break down the technological and financial barriers of media production.
A central feature of the GIFTS curriculum is our emphasis on helping students become media artists, not just cogs in a huge entertainment industry. Our focus is on independent, do-it-yourself rapid production. The result is an outpouring of creative energy and dedication that surprises nearly everyone who visits the facility or views our students’ movies. That’s why our students have such a good reputation in the industry: once they’ve been to GIFTS, they know how to work long, hard hours, how to trust their instincts and how to troubleshoot on a tight schedule. They leave here with a sense of independence and confidence that allows them to get to work on a project with clear goals.
The television will be revolutionized.
The new media revolution is no longer hype. Desktop video is here, and we are the experts at small budget, independent production. However, the danger is the same as with desktop publishing: having the tools and the ability to operate them are not enough. Independent media producers must understand the importance of a good story well told, and have the ability to weave the technical together with the creative using limited resources. We make sure that students leave GIFTS with a kind of media savvy that can’t be obtained anywhere else in such a short time.
The Curriculum: Film Boot Camp
GIFTS courses are all intensive, live-in sessions where students work in small teams on projects that are entirely theirs. Every student works on all aspects of their production and leaves with a video of their completed project. The deadline at the end of the session is absolute, and the total immersion that is required of students means that the school earns the affectionate label of “film boot camp.”
One of the benefits of immersion is that students quickly understand how all the different aspects of a production interrelate. When they are required to develop a habit or carry out mundane tasks of preparation, they understand why, because the effects are immediate. Students retain the meaning and substance of their education longer because it all ties together.
We don’t rely merely on rote instruction and exercises to teach. We hire mentors on the basis of real-world experience as independent producers, their ability to work closely with people, and calmly manage a stressful schedule. Mentors are assigned to work with a team (3-6 students) on their project throughout the week, and function as a kind of managing producer: guide, expert resource, timekeeper, facilitator. In addition, there are mentors for story development, media literacy, technical issues, and sound (in most courses). Our low student-staff ratio is one of the best, and necessary for a successful immersion experience.
Sessions are organized into different genres: dramatic video, documentary, and animation (classical, computer, or visual effects). In addition, we offer some specialty courses: digital video effects, soundtrack composition, Super8/16mm film, and acting on camera. Each students picks one genre, and that is the kind of production they make during that session.
Students have plenty of access to the tools of the trade and the information they need to learn and produce. The mentors work hard and there is almost always someone available to answer questions or solve problems, despite the long hours of the day. This kind of access is necessary for students to know that they are in control and working on their own production.
GIFTS also strives to provide another kind of access: the ability and confidence to come and study. Most of our courses have no prerequisites. Any interested individual may come to GIFTS. However, our courses are not for beginners only: we have many returning students, especially for our week-long Media Intensive Program.
We also offer freedom from financial barriers. Although media production is typically an expensive activity, we have kept our fees as low as possible, and offer the best education value in the industry. We also have a variety of financial support options for students, such as our bursary program run in conjunction with the Access to Media Education Society, our various scholarship programs, fundraising advice, and special discounts.
GIFTS welcomes students with a wide variety of physical, social, and mental abilities.
“Ryan’s first words when he arrived home were "I’m going back next year!”