Thursday, August 28, 2014


I attended Vancouver Film School's special brand of orientation on August 27th, exactly one week before class starts. It started at 10 in the morning, which was super friendly for a non-morning person like myself, and supposedly ended at 11; pretty short for an orientation. Orientation at the University of Tulsa (abbreviated TU because of reasons), where I got my bachelor degree, is a full week long, jam packed with stuff you're not required (read required) to attend. Of course I did none of it, because I was shackled to a band scholarship that required rehearsals all that week, but I hear it was pretty painful anyways. Regardless, I was pretty skeptical of their timeline.

So I guess I should've expected something different from an art school, but holy interplanetary yardstick, Batman! (or pick your favorite) it was so different. It started with all 300 something students across all disciplines gathering in an auditorium which I don't think was actually on any of VFS's many campuses. Once there, the lights dimmed, and a man introduced himself as Bill Marchant, an actor and instructor at VFS. He described some of the highlights of the school, using the phrase "best in the world" a lot, which received a lot of applause as the crowd felt more and more validated in paying this school tens of thousands of dollars in tuition. "Mom, it's the best in the world." You could tell the crowd was full of actors, because they frequently shouted clever quips to add on to the presentation, and you could tell the presenter was an actor because he would frequently respond with EVEN CLEVERER QUIPS. As a man of many quips myself I still felt completely out of my league. These were the heavy-weight quippers. I have so much to learn.

The speaker then proceeded to say "this will be the most difficult, and most rewarding year of your life" about 60 times using various methods, including actually saying it, using a slideshow to say it, introducing the founder of the school to have him say it, and using at least 3 videos to say it, one of which was the classic "Past students give advice to new students", followed shortly by the "Instructors look away from the camera and say great things about their school" video. There was even a section devoted to the speaker telling his life story, which after many ups and downs eventually ended in "this will be the most difficult and rewarding year of your life." There were also plenty of snippets of student-made projects, edited together in epic fashion, and probably definitely scored by Hans Zimmer (You weren't there, you don't know).

And that was pretty much it! By the time the presentation was over I was convinced that I was in the wrong auditorium. Clearly this crowd were merely interested in the school, and had been invited to learn more. I had just witnessed their promotional presentation, and somewhere (probably actually on campus) were the actual new students getting told all about the year ahead of them and receiving the supplies they would need. Some clever scam artist disguised as VFS got me to pay them a bucket (not sure what the Canadian conversion is) of money, and then directed me to the actual VFS information session to keep up the ruse. 

VFS could've sent me a postcard that said "This will be the most difficult and rewarding year of your life. Also we have a student cafe that's pretty cool," and it would have easily replaced their orientation. 

But god dammit if I wasn't totally entertained. Despite, the very little information actually imparted unto me, the hour went by so quickly. The videos were interesting and well made, and the presenter was surprisingly funny and engaging, and it was only an hour long, which is roughly 120 times shorter than orientation at TU. I really felt like the school as a whole was on the same page as me. "We don't need to rush this thing, let's start at 10 so we can all sleep in." "Ice breakers? Good god no, you're adults, you can introduce yourselves." "What in the world could we possibly have to orientate for an entire week? Screw that, let's go with maaaaaaaybe an hour." "Quips? We have quips for DAYS."

For me orientation was proof that I'm in the right place. That I can not only belong, but thrive here. I also learned something about this year being difficult or rewarding or something. I don't remember which but it didn't seem important. Also there's a student cafe that's pretty cool.

I'm so excited to show up next week and either start classes or call my wife in tears to let her know I was scammed out of approximately a bucket full of cash. But at least it was worth it for the quips.