Trent Student Finds Summer Temp Work In Toronto’s Film Industry


The season of summer in Toronto is one that waits for no man. It gets hot faster than you are able to replace your window unit and humid before you learn how to handle your frizzy hair.

For many students, it throws itself at you before you are able to land a full-time summer job.

When summer sneaks up on you, it’s easy to stress about the fact that you don’t have a 40-hour work week set up for yourself. For those in that situation, fear not. There is a lot to be said for summer temp work.

Maxim Gertler-Jaffe, an International Development and Cultural Studies joint major entering his fourth year at Trent University, is spending his summer doing temp work in Toronto.

He was originally planning to take a summer film program at Ryerson University but found it cancelled at the last minute. Since he had already secured accommodations in Toronto for the summer, he decided to make the most of it and get some direct experience in his field by doing some temporary freelance work in the film production industry.

“I’m learning how films are actually made,” Maxim says. “Often in film classes or books they tell you about all these discrete steps, rules, and positions that one has to go through in making a film, but the truth is that if you are stretched on time and money, as most of these low-budget films are, there’s a lot of resourcefulness required.”

Maxim says working on-set has raised his confidence in his own abilities and allowed him to learn the “correct” way of doing things. As a self-taught filmmaker previously doing his learning from books and good ol’ trial and error, gaining some firsthand experience is extremely valuable to his future career.

Furthermore, summer temp work is a great way of getting your feet wet in your career without blindly committing to one job all summer. You are responsible for picking up as much or as little work as you want. However, an irregular schedule does offer some challenges.

“As someone with relatively little experience, my best chance to get a job is if they post something last minute,” Maxim says, discussing how he’s already overcoming this obstacle to some degree by leveraging contacts he’s made on previous sets. “My most recent job was with someone I had previously worked with who was impressed with my work and wanted to offer me a higher-level crew position.”

Again, however, this deal was made only two days before the gig started, showing him first hand the last-minute nature of this industry.

“The way the industry works, I expect I’ll be doing work like this for the next decade,” Maxim says, adding that he’ll probably have some sort of regular job as well. With a decade of similar work in your future, it’s nice to have some direct experience so you are well-equipped and prepared for what you’re getting into.

There are tons of places to land some temporary freelance work. For Maxim, searching for jobs online has brought forth the most success. “Apply to as much as possible,” he says. “A lot of the entry level positions don’t require super complicated applications.”

Similarly to the way Maxim made contacts on set, it’s often a matter of simply getting your name out there and exposing your interest in the industry. When it’s up to you to put yourself out there and find work, it’s too easy to keep putting it off for another day. However, this is an excellent opportunity to develop your skills and start making a name for yourself in your field.

Temp work may be “temporary,” but the benefits last much longer than your need for a window unit does.

Photo credit: vancouverfilmschool on Flickr