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Learning Hollywood magic

A Confederation College student says he went into the film program to learn how to tell stories.
Dale Shippam worked on such films as Watchmen, the Day the Earth Stood Still, Underworld 2 and Hot Tub Time Machine.
A Confederation College student says he went into the film program to learn how to tell stories.

Tanner Drabick, a second year student, attended workshops on Saturday in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Confederation College film production program. Drabick, from London, ON, took a construction job to pay his way through college but developed a passion for film from watching horror movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street and said he loved to create a creepy atmosphere and film was the next logical step.

"I just love telling stories," Drabick said. "My biggest saying on set is if we do something we do it right. Damn…you’d thing we were professionals or something."

Drabick completed his first year at the college and said the experience was intense. Compared to other film colleges who vote on scripts, he said its not the most popular script that turns into a film; the goal is to get three movies shot and completed before the year is finished.

As part of the film program, second year students are required to produce a thesis film. Drabick said he couldn’t wait to get started.

"I’ve got this wicked idea planned out," he said. "In my first year attending here I wanted to know who I was working with. I really wanted to judge the people in my class and see who I want to work with."

Drabick attended a special effects workshop from local film graduate Dale Shippam, who worked on such films as Watchmen, Hot Tub Time Machine and Alien vs Predetor: Requiem. Drabick said seeing someone like Shippam, who graduated from the college and now works in the film industry, gave him hope to start his own career.

"It’s really great that someone can leave this program, not just any program but the program you’re in and make something of themselves," he said.

Dale Shippam graduated from Confederation College film production in 2001. He worked on a number of productions before he moved to Vancouver to work as a special effects supervisor for Best Boy. The film program at the college traditionally focused more on broad technical skills and hands on learning.

Shippam said those hands on skills served him well in getting a foot into the door by teaching him how to shoot a camera or applying make up. He held a workshop and showed students different special effects including being shot and pyrotechnics.

"A lot of people think special effects are all fires and explosions but really the biggest part of the job is the manipulation of weather," Shippam said. " When I was a student here I tutored and I really liked the experience of helping someone and educating someone. Showing them what’s out there and it gets them to start thinking bigger on their projects."

Shippam said students should continue to improve their skills and produce as many movies possible to look more favorably when breaking into the film industry. He added those who wanted more experience should ask for more information on the locally produced feature film 10-57.

"We want to make this a large-scale film," he said. "For people in Thunder Bay who want to gain some experience in film, come out and help us out for an hour or a day or a week or a month."

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