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Case Study: Andrei

Personal details
Degree:Film Studies MLitt (Distinction) Profile picture
School(s): School of Philosophy, Anthropology & Film Studies
Year of Graduation:Jun-2010
National of: Canada
Employment details
Organisation: Toronto International Film Festival and Toronto-Romanian Film Festival
Job title: Programming Associate - Toronto International Film Festival Programmer - Toronto-Romanian Film Festival
Occupational Sector: Film
What has been your route to getting your current position?
After graduating with a specialist in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto, I went on to co-found the Toronto-Romanian Film Festival, taking the position as head programmer. Given my love of film, I enrolled in the Film Studies MLitt at St. Andrews, which led to my position as programming associate of the Toronto International Film Festival. Without a doubt, it was my continuing studies at St. Andrews that led to a more developed understanding of cinema.

Chronologically, my path is easily traced from my BA in Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto to the foundation and operation of the Toronto-Romanian Film Festival, continuing through to my MA in Film Studies at St. Andrews University. Yet no matter how important each step might be within its own contextual merit(s), my studies in St. Andrews were integral to cementing my position within the film festival world.

What does your job involve ?
The Programming Associate position requires me to research and pre-screen films for the programmer I am working with, assist in any preparations for the festival and ultimately host festival guests, introduce films and moderate Q & A sessions.

Tasks aside, the role pre-supposes a significant amount of research and requires a breadth of knowledge and communication skills - all very challenging and rewarding without being taxing. Working closely with a festival programmer on every significant aspect of a film’s presentation at the festival (short of travel, accommodation, technical support) means that not only do I have to be fully prepared for an intense period of organization, but that I also engage with each filmmaker and festival/industry guest on a constant basis.

What are the best bits of your job ?
Platitudes aside, there is no bigger satisfaction than witnessing the magic of cinema: seeing a film unravel and captivate a receptive audience, leading to a charged but personal discussion between spectator and filmmaker. The wealth of knowledge and unique artistic visions that you connect with - be they from first-time filmmakers or established masters - confer the worldview that life begets art and vice-versa. Ultimately, being exposed to the dynamic networks of cinema and its global industries that unify within a festival is the icing on the cake
Why were you successful?
Moving beyond the rigors of academia was essential to expanding my career opportunities. Publishing and taking part in any artistic curatorial projects not only developed my adaptive skills for the film festival industry, but it also provided the real-life research that one needs in order to fully immerse oneself within the industry and art of cinema.
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Ensuring that I consistently surrounded myself with a diverse and plentiful amount of information (i.e. analytical research skills) was one of the most important and intellectually stimulating aspects of my academic career. The renowned faculty of Cinema at St. Andrews University as well as its inspiring students provides a fertile environment for such research and discussion. This critical drive for knowledge that the university fostered was the most essential skill that helped me in my current position(s).
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
There is no exact recipe or pathway that one needs to follow. Both academia and the film festival circuit are networks that require from you a continual desire for research and/or publishing. The more open you make yourself to different avenues of knowledge and force that inquisitive drive to produce, the broader your experiences will be and consequently, the more opportunities you will have at the end of the day. As simple as it may sound, networking - in the purest social form of human connectivity and intellectual stimulation - is also an important skill that one should focus on.

Lastly, make the most of your education at St. Andrews University and enjoy every minute of it - it is an experience like no other!