The independent experience
By: Neil McKenzie-Sutter
I had a unique summer work experience with the local newspaper in Halton Hills: the Independent Free Press. I’m mostly covering sports and community news, but it’s interesting because local media companies aren’t going to be around much longer. They’re getting crushed in the digital age, so our generation is probably the last to work in environments like the IFP.
I got the job in the summer, but it really started in January when my mom noticed a sports writer help want ad with another local newspaper, not the IFP. She suggested I send an application and I got an interview and was given a trial assignment. I had to find the spring registration numbers for sports, but I didn’t realize how asinine this was until I got into it. There are no registration numbers for spring sports in Jan/Feb, but I still did my best to find a decent story.
I ended up getting a call back from a few of the girls lacrosse team coaches, and I knew I had a story when I found out they were planning to start the Baby Bulldogs Lacrosse league in spring 2015, which is targeted at girls aged 4 – 7. That’s a real news item and I submitted the story, but the paper hated the story and didn’t print it.
I was depressed for a while, but eventually I decided to send it to the IFP. They printed the story and now I work with them
Escape from the hotel
By: Peter Liakhov
I graduated from U of T in the spring of 2014, though I didn’t get my diploma until the following autumn because I forgot to press the “apply to graduate” button on ROSI. For about a year I worked a dead-end job in a fancy hotel serving overpriced food to ungrateful venture capitalists and B-list celebrities. In a last desperate grasp at the umbilical cord of academia, I sent a pleading email to the author of one of my favourite books. To my surprise, not only did he respond, but he also got me a job.
Now, thanks to him, I work for a small documentary film studio in Armenia. I write scripts, pitches, and translate documents; I get drunk way too often, and I occasionally step a little too close to the line of fire in a conflict that I’m sure no one reading this article has ever heard of (i.e. the Nagorno-Karabagh war). As far as the future is concerned, films in Greece, Kenya, and Afghanistan are hopefully/probably in my future, unless I do something silly, which is not an unlikely possibility. But, no matter how things turn out, at least I’m not stuck making lattes for Wilmer Valderrama anymore.
By: Dylan Hornby
As university students, we occupy a highly-sought demographic as consumers. Institutions across Canada, from corporations to government agencies spend millions of dollars every year trying to figure out what students like, hate, and most importantly what they’re willing to buy into. This reality can be quite advantageous for students with a lot on their plate.
I regularly participated in focus groups as a full-time student. Focus groups only take about an hour out of your day and they pay generously for that time in cash. I have done them for Juicy Fruit, Nutri-Grain, Budweiser, and Rogers just to name a few. The most interesting ones involved commenting on recruitment advertisements from the Canadian Armed Forces and the public perception of the Toronto Police.
The discussions were quite engaging and often don’t feel like work. Participants were not afraid to call out the police on racial bias they experienced, or the military’s masculinity and declining reputation as peacekeepers, even when Canada’s top generals were listening closely on the other side of the one-way mirror.
Unfortunately, there is no health plan with focus groups. Keep this in mind when you’re in McDonald's corporate headquarters and they serve you a McLobster, or ask you to compare cream cheese A with cream cheese B.
By: Dylan Hornby
I found an enthusiastic film agent through Craigslist who dropped some serious compliments about my looks, saying that I reminded him of a young Jonah Hill. I would apparently make for the perfect portrayal of a nerdy high school type. Sure enough, I was sent to the studio a few weeks later to play a competitive video gamer and be fitted for some snazzy 1982 clothes. I worked on the set of Pixels, now widely considered by critics to be the worst Hollywood film of the summer.
Film buffs will get a kick out of the process itself, and the star power on set. I got to work alongside actors I admired such as Peter Dinklage and Dan Aykroyd. Adam Sandler was there too, an early and obvious sign we were not working on the next Citizen Kane.
I recall director Chris Columbus (whose more acclaimed films include Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire) shouting at me from his director’s chair: “can we get that curly-haired basketball player to move a few steps back?” This request indicated that I was truly moving up in the biz.
Being a film extra requires patience for doing a lot of monotonous gestures, and waiting to go onto set. The five days we spent shooting Pixels translated into less than five minutes of screentime. Free food is also provided to extras.
I’ve been a cam girl before, and wr working your own hours, dressing how you want to dress, no meeting strangers, no risk of physical assault, and no sex with clients. If you don’t have an issue with sex work, it can be a way to make some extra money and have some fun as well, so long as you’re willing to commit to it.