Life Advice from Cameron Bailey: TIFF’s Artistic Director

A few weeks ago I noticed an event on Facebook with TIFF in the title. Naturally, I clicked on it, to learn that Cameron Bailey, the artistic director of TIFF, would be coming to Western University (my school) for a $10 talk. I clicked the little “interested” button on Facebook, and then forgot about it.

As my week went on, I kept getting little instinctive feelings and signals in my life that drove me to buy a ticket and secure my attendance. Tonight, I went. No one wanted to join me, so I was totally alone, but I went. And I am so damn happy that I did.

This wasn’t a life changing event for me, but it was something I am thankful for being a part of. Cameron Bailey’s talk re-ignited my passion, inspired me to start acting on some baby steps to get to where I want to be, and taught me a little history of film, Toronto, and multiculturalism. Through hearing his story and how he got to where he is now from a BA in English at Western, I felt obligated to take notes for myself and learn from what he was saying. Here are some of the things I learned from his lecture:

  1. Act in confidence and speak clearly. It’s a powerful skill to be able to articulate your ideas properly and speak comfortably to an audience. (This wasn’t said explicitly, I took this note through watching him speak).
  2. Learn to listen to your gut. He gets this instinctive feeling when he sees a remarkable film and he’s learned to listen to that and seek that in screenings. That can be applied to many things- writing, cooking, just about any passion.
  3. Don’t worry WHATSOEVER about your future job. In fact, it might not even exist yet. When he was in school, something like Netflix was not even in the realm of his imagination.
  4. Practice. Do things. Take full advantage of the opportunities you get, and dive in. Do good work. Even if you aren’t building a totally idyllic portfolio, you’re getting some valuable experience in that will most certainly come in handy later.
  5. Things will grow organically. If you really dedicate your energy to something you are passionate about, people will start to notice. It will take some time, but people will notice. And you will be presented with incredible opportunity.

He also touched a lot on some other more concrete information about film, TIFF, and other related topics, but I just wanted to write a post that speaks to his wisdom of life advice. I am now trying to sort through this chaotic, ragging passion that I feel: a feeling that I feel after most of these powerful lectures I attend. But, it’s kind of fun, and wonderfully inspiring.

So… there you have it. BA in English from Western and he’s now the artistic director of one of the greatest and most powerful film festivals in the world.

But in the end, in my opinion, you don’t have to be the god of your passion. You don’t have to be a genius, you don’t have to be the best. You have to be willing to devote your energy to something and patient with discovering opportunities.

– Dose of Delight

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