Learning From the Best: Banff Centre Practicum Experience

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“He worked on sound for Cool Runnings,” says Roland Eksteins, about decorated sound recordist Per Asplund. 

“I’ve never seen it,” says Steve Henderson with a detectable twinge of regret. 

“What? You’ve got to see it! It’s a classic,” Eksteins responds. 

When they’re not bonding over must-see movies, video practicums for the media and production department, Eksteins and Henderson, are honing their skills as camera operator/technicians at The Banff Centre. Basically, they’re the bobsled duo of producing something like 40 short documentaries for the 2014 Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

Both attribute learning new processes and methods under the guidance of the department’s faculty: camera operator Carey Toner, cinematographer Roger Vernon, audio engineer Mark Willsher, and Asplund (the one who worked on Cool Runnings).

“We get to work with people at the top of their game,” Henderson says of the exposure to experts available through the practicum. “They’ve helped to finesse and refine what we already knew, so our skills have in many ways gotten better.” 

Which says a lot, as Eksteins has worked in television news and video production while Henderson worked as a freelance videographer and editor in Toronto. 

These guys aren’t the only ones who have grown more confident in their talents either. Take music producer practicum Lucie Bourely for instance. “I’m trusting myself more and everyone trusts me,” Bourely says of her work, especially when recording classical CDs. 

Bourely, who came to The Banff Centre after graduating from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Louis-Lumièrre as an audio engineer, said she hadn’t recorded CD projects by herself before this practicum. 

“After five months here, I’ve really learned how fix mistakes before they happen because now I’m thinking ahead and have more of an ability to fix mistakes. I’ve got more self-confidence.”

Audio engineer practicum Will Maclellan agrees that The Banff Centre has been “huge for confidence-building,” adding the equipment has also taken his work to the next level.

“The facilities here really elevate the experience for everybody involved,” he says of the collaboration of musicians and engineers for one of his favourite projects, The Independent Music Residency

So while mentors have been very influential in advising on tools and techniques, Bourely also believes that working with other practicums like Maclellan has greatly shaped her experience. 

“It’s been a good way to learn — we are open to sharing our knowledge and to receiving each other’s knowledge. Working with each other has shaped our own ideologies… we’ve learned the most from each other.”

Getting practical experience during a Banff Centre practicum