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Lights, camera, fun

Film academy shows off its toys and people

"If you want to use the Blue Bridge as a prop, do it soon," quipped John Luton.

The Victoria city councillor attended the Pacific Film and New Media Academy open house to check out its 3-D animation, acting, motion picture production and new media programs.

"I'm sure my kids could do a better job of following the commands," laughed Luton after trying to build a helicopter during an animation workshop.

Meanwhile, students took turns operating cameras, pulling switches and handling other tasks during a mock newscast supervised by David Mills, head of motion picture production.

"We have a three-camera setup and they do a line cut," said Mills, glancing at Nicola Goelle, 20, a student on standby in front of a green screen to play the ditzy new colour girl.

"I want to be an actress -- a movie star, of course," she said, explaining her motivation.

Teaching assistant Laurie Carr-Hall kept a watchful eye on her "extremely fast learners" in the control room. "Yes, there's life after television," laughed the former CHEK creative services and news director.

Kindra Ormiston, 19, kept her cool, calling the shots as news director.

"You have to think on your feet, and don't stress out when you make a mistake," she said.

Other student projects include making videos for rock bands and documentaries for non-profit societies.

The crowd included working graduates such as Janco Jansen, a student from South Africa who wants to move here.

"What attracted me was that by the end of an eight-month program you're fully equipped to write, produce and direct your own stuff," said Jansen, 20, whose grad project was a documentary on the Castaway Wanderers Rugby Club.

The modernized facility has placed an expanded focus on 3-D animation, editing and documentary production.

"Victoria's a hotbed of documentaries," said director Oliver Drew. "If you're going to make a documentary in Canada, this is the place to be."