Former Delview Student Shares Film Expertise with Delta Film Academy Students

Category: District

Last week, Film Production Designer Tiana P. Gordon shared her expertise and industry knowledge with students in the Delta School District’s Film Production Academy.

Tiana graduated from Delview Secondary in 2015 before studying interior design at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. After a short stint working in interior design, Tiana switched her focus to the film industry. She started working as a Production Assistant (PA) on the TV show Batwoman but, after only three days on set, the pandemic shut down the industry for several months. During the shutdown, Tiana worked unpaid on small commercials, music videos and short films. In September 2020, she started her first Netflix show working as a prep PA before moving into the Locations Office as an Office Runner.

“My time as an Officer Runner was invaluable. I learned so much about all aspects of the film industry, and how the different departments work together,” said Tiana. “After getting such a wide perspective on the industry, I decided I wanted to specialize in production design. I was working in Locations five to six days a week, and volunteering for projects on my days off. I was fortunate to work with Locations Managers and Assistant Location Managers who were really supportive of my goals, and who enabled me to get involved in other projects that helped build my production design expertise. My first paid production role was for a real estate commercial – it was a trial of fire, but I loved every minute!”

In March 2021, Tiana took a leap of faith and dedicated herself to production design full-time. By August, she had booked her first Art Director role on the critically-acclaimed feature film, Riceboy Sleeps. Since then, she has worked on various films including With Love and a Major Organ as the Art Director, and It’s a Wonderful Knife and Cold Copy as the Production Designer. Tiana was recently signed by LA-based United Talent Agency who represent actors, writers, directors, and behind-the scenes artists such as production designers.

After sharing her journey with students, Tiana offered them some valuable advice: “Demonstrate a strong work ethic, communicate promptly and concisely, be aware of what’s happening around you on set as there are lots of moving parts and safety is always a huge consideration, and take the initiative to do things that will help to expedite the shoot. Also, don’t forget to keep photos of your work so that you can showcase your expertise on your website and social media accounts. Finally, don’t be afraid to show your passion for this work. There is nothing I would love to do more than production design. I think this comes across on set and has been instrumental in furthering my career.”

Delta Film Academy educator Jennifer McKee shared two scripts written by students with Tiana ahead of her visit. Using the scripts, Tiana walked students through the process of how she identifies important elements from a production design perspective. She demonstrated how she uses a spreadsheet to breakdown scenes and capture what is required in each, from graphics and props to the set design and overall vibe. She emphasized how helpful it is for the script to include as much descriptive detail as possible so that the everyone understands the world they are creating on set. Tiana also encouraged students to volunteer their time and skills to build their portfolios and find a way into the industry. She closed her session with the students by sharing some additional insights into her work.

“You need to be extremely organized and able to collaborate with many different departments. For example, a script that calls for something as simple as a welcome sign would involve the Art Department and graphic designer, set decoration or construction team and our legal/clearance team,” said Tiana. “Most people think about production design as being focused solely on set. Yet I probably spend as much time in the office planning what is needed and dealing with paperwork such as budgeting and invoicing.”

“We were thrilled to have Tiana join us to share her knowledge,” said Jennifer. “It was such a valuable and inspiring experience. And as the students are currently in the process of thinking about how to film their scripts, Tiana’s visit came at the perfect time.”

For students interested in exploring a career in the film industry, registration for the three Delta Film Academy programs – Film Production, Film Acting and Visual Effects – is now open. Students are encouraged to apply by March 10.

In addition, the Delta Film Academy is offering FilmKids, a spring break bootcamp which runs from March 18 – 22 for students in grades 6 – 11.

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