Sasha Steiner was in the middle of her 10th year at Etobicoke School of the Arts when the pandemic hit.
Without access to their studios and materials, Steiner, a contemporary arts student, and her classmates “were barely able to do any work as a community,” she said. “We were able to have occasional online shows, but it didn’t feel as rewarding or engaging as the shows we used to have. Electric power is one of the best parts of the shows in our As time passed and the numbers (COVID) increased, we began to realize that our experiences as students in art school would be greatly affected.
Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA) dance student Kathy Jin has been using her time during the lockdowns to “create, choreograph and just be creative”, and shared her work on Instagram and YouTube. Still, she missed out on introducing a large audience and, she said, “the opportunities to collaborate with different artists and friends, which is a wonderful experience.” Steiner agreed. “Being able to grow in your artistic creation alongside your friends is a beautiful thing that art schools can offer. However, not being able to experience it in recent years has definitely made it harder for us.
Now in Grade 12, 18-year-old Jin and Steiner have found a way to bring one of Canada’s top arts high schools back to the stage for the first time in more than two years: a 30-minute film shot in the abandoned Lower Bay subway station. The film, which will premiere Saturday at Innis City Hall, features contributions from more than 200 student designers, composers, musicians, filmmakers and photographers.
It was last November that the friends decided to relaunch the school’s annual Etobicoke Fashion Show (EFS), a highly anticipated production since its inaugural event in 2018. Due to COVID, student gatherings at the indoors were prohibited and they held their first planning meeting outdoors. To their delight, 100 students from grades 9 to 12 were present. “We were over the moon,” said Steiner, who, along with Jin, became co-director and co-producer on this year’s EFS. “After so many lockdowns, we had no idea how motivated or engaged the student body would be.”
In previous years, the EFS had stood on the track for a live audience, but after being unable to find a venue at full capacity, the organizers shifted gears again, landing on a fashion film they could. project for a live audience. Other advantages of filming over a live event soon became apparent. For an in-person show, “the majority of the work would fall on the fashion designers,” Steiner said. “However, with film, we were better able to incorporate a lot more mediums – graphic design, editing, cinematography and set design. of art majors,” she said. “It gave an opportunity for all types of minds to come together.”
Filming also reduced production costs, allowing students to work with a smaller budget (which comes from fundraising, parental support, school, and ticket sales) “but still go out with something strong that anyone can use in their wallets,” Steiner said.
When researching filming locations, Jin and Steiner wanted a space that was “interesting and engaging, but that wouldn’t distract too much from the designs,” Steiner said. They chose the abandoned Lower Bay subway station, where ESA staff supervisors volunteered for filming days, and parents pitched in, providing food, finding props, and carrying supplies.
The majority of the designs featured in the film were in the streetwear category, Jin said, but there was a wide range of looks, from designs inspired by his Asian background to the student’s (additional) white embroidered long-sleeved shirt. Ben Haslam.
Although they were aware that the show could lead to scholarships and future employment – 2022 graduates have received more than $15 million in scholarships for schools such as Tufts, L School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cooper Union and the Parsons School of Design in New York City and Harvard – that was not his raison d’être. “We produced this show to celebrate the artists around us,” Jin said, and “to have the chance to give back to the amazing and talented artists we’ve worked with.” As for their comrades, Jin thinks their motivation is similar. “They did it for their love of fashion,” she said. “Every student at our school is extremely passionate about their work. I love seeing the variety of mediums they use and everything they do feels so authentic and raw. There’s nothing like this form of industry in the world. It has such beauty and color.
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