Canadian Screen Training Centre closes, Ottawa

By Mike Valiquette

The ides of March, indeed. First CORE, then Cookie Jar, now in more sad news, the Canadian Screen Training Centre is closing. The press release pretty much covers it.

This won’t have the same direct effect on the immediate livelihood of nearly so many people, but it does represent a serious blow to our creative culture. Scores of working professionals have benefitted from the regional workshops and the Summer Institute of Film and Television here in Ottawa. Rarely do we get access to the kind of experience this organization has provided to us over the years.

Best of luck to Tom Shoebridge.

Canadian Screen Training Centre ‘Fades to Black’ and Closes After 30 years
Federal Funding Cut and Lack of Provincial Support Cited

Ottawa, March 16, 2010 – The Canadian Screen Training Centre (CSTC) announced today that, after three decades of training the next generation of filmmakers, it will be closing its doors permanently within the next month. The CSTC is based in Ottawa, and offered training activities across Canada.

“The CSTC has been struggling to find replacement funding since there was a 100% cut to the federal core funding for all the National Film schools in August, 2008. It proved to be the death knell for a small organization like the CSTC,” Mr. Shoebridge said. “There is still lots of interest in and need for screen training, but without federal or Ontario provincial government support, it was impossible for the CSTC to carry on.”

Founded in 1981 by Tom Shoebridge, the Canadian Screen Training Centre has trained more than 7,000 screen professionals, and had offered some 600 workshops from coast to coast. Over the past 29 years, the Centre’s nearly 400 workshop leaders were working professionals in film, television and new media, hired because their knowledge was current and practical.

Among the notable Canadian filmmakers who were teachers and guests were Megan Follows, Atom Egoyan, Patricia Rozema, Peter Raymond, Sarah Polley, Denys Arcand, plus nearly 400 others.

Participants came from across the country each year for specialized training in screenwriting, directing, producing, acting and new media. Over the years, a number of international filmmakers were also hired to share their specialized skills and knowledge. These international superstars included Alan Plater (A Very British Coup), Michael Tolkin (The Player), Burt Metcalfe (M*A*S*H), and the late Anthony Minghella (‘The English Patient’, ‘The Talented Mr. Ripley’, ‘Cold Mountain’) for whom a CSTC memorial award for lifetime achievement was named in his honour.

Although most known for its highly successful Summer Institute of Film and Television (SIFT), the CSTC’s ‘Taking it to the Screen (T2S) workshops were held in all provinces and several Territories over its three decades of offerings,

Oscar-winning producer Denise Robert (Invasion of the Barbarians) is among the hundreds of professionals working in Canada’s screen industry who received part of their training at workshops offered by the CSTC.

“It is unfortunate that federal and provincial funders don’t realize that training is the R&D of the screen industries,” Mr. Shoebridge explained. “As film, television, new media and games are billion dollar industries with thousands of good, sustainable jobs, it is mystifying that the Federal Government’s new $300 million fund New Media Fund expressly forbids the funding of training. And on top of that, it’s our cultural stories and heritage that are at stake in the screen and multimedia industries.”

The CSTC Board of Directors and Mr. Shoebridge would like to thank all the sponsors, teachers, employees, Board members and supporters who have contributed so much over the years. Without the passion of the teachers and the financial support of the industry, the CSTC would not have been so successful.”

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