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Manav Shukla, Alessandra Di Simone, Mahil Qurashi, Justin Bukoski and Beth Agnew

From left: Manav Shukla, Alessandra Di Simone, Mahil Qurashi, Justin Bukoski and Beth Agnew from Seneca collaborated with three other schools in Canada and the United States for the film I Am Here, which premièred in Atlanta last month.

Oct. 17, 2019

When a unique opportunity arose a couple of years ago to create a student-led film between Canada and the United States, Seneca’s School of Media was tapped for the gig along with its counterparts at Sheridan College, Georgia State University and Clayton State University.

Now, as the film I Am Here gets prepped for the festival circuit after premièring in Atlanta last month, Seneca students and faculty who worked on the project can take exclusive credit for the film’s teaser and behind-the-scenes feature.

“Seneca was chosen because we have a solid reputation for having a good film school,” said Beth Agnew, Chair, School of Media. “We had a small part in the collaborative work of reviewing parts of the film as it came together, but we were solely responsible for some critical activities post-production.”

I am here poster

The initial call came from the Canadian Consulate in Atlanta. The international collaboration began as a competition among the four schools to submit scripts and cinematography portfolios for a short film about immigration and people being displaced, then reunited with family.

In the end, the script for I Am Here was developed by student writers from Sheridan College and Georgia State University. Funded in part by the Canadian government, the film was produced both in Atlanta and Toronto.

A first-of-its kind collaboration between film programs in Canada and the United States, I Am Here tells the story of a brother and sister forced to flee the war in Syria. They become separated between Atlanta and Toronto and must use their unique voices to find each other.

Under the supervision of Agnew and Ted Ambrose, Program Co-ordinator, Broadcasting – Television, a handful of students worked solo or in pairs. Mahil Qurashi served as the story editor and worked with Justin Bukoski to put together the behind-the-scenes feature. Meanwhile, Alessandra Di Simone animated the film’s logo and Manav Shukla from the Visual Effects for Film & Television graduate certificate program worked on the title design.

“We were proud to be part of this international project,” Shukla said. “Even though Seneca had a small part, we were taught to look at the whole picture and not just the part that you were responsible for. The final product is very good. The story line is good. And we got the chance to showcase our school in front of everyone.”

Di Simone, who now teaches in the Broadcasting – Television diploma program, agrees.

“We had seen nothing of the footage before we worked on the project, but we were just happy to be part of it,” she said. “In the end, everything fit.”