A real artist must never be afraid of what other people are gonna say about him.

A real artist must never be afraid of what other people are gonna say about him.

I’ve seemingly been surrounded with reminders of my art school days in recent weeks.

One old friend has started working at my office, a friend-of-a-friend has a daughter attending the school now, and this time next week, I’ll be seeing a play here in town starring a woman who was at the school the same time as me. I’m not feeling any sort of full-on nostalgia, just remembering brush strokes of the experience. In case I’ve never mentioned before – I enrolled to study visual art, but ended up doing some singing before my time was done.

In an arts school – like the one I attended, and the one depicted in FAME – a common feeling is insecurity. There is a tiny sliver of the student body that exude cockiness, but they are deep in the minority (and make up for their cockiness with other personality flaws). Besides them, the prevailing wisdom is that nobody there is as good as the rest of their class. They might think they are…they might think that they’ve worked a piece well enough and long enough to actually nail it. However, one glimpse over the shoulder at what someone else is doing and that entire feeling of confidence is gone.

That’s why I love this frame.

It exemplifies that common feeling that mixes curiosity, admiration, insecurity, and dread. These three auditionees aren’t in the studio, so they don’t have the complete picture. All they can tell from their spot out in the hall, is that something amazing is happening inside that room. Their faces are a mix of surprise and worry knowing that whatever is going on is something they will have to follow. What’s worse is the fact that they cannot see the performance, they can only hear it. So even if the performer is a trembling, sweating pile of nerves, none of that matters. From the hall, they are nailing it, and with that the pressure builds.

Another thing I love about this image is the way it exemplifies one of the single most isolating experience an arts student will face. When they are studying or rehearsing, there will be mentorship, and collaboration. There will be techniques explored, lessons taught, and a team mentality. To get there though, they will first need to pass the audition – and there the artist is alone. These three people have a common demeanour, they all look like they belong. They could easily be three actors cast in the same scene. They’re even reacting much the same way to what they are hearing.

However, in this moment, they are three completely isolated artists. They are united in competition, and united in insecurity, but individual in their pursuit of their craft. FAME understands that better that most films about young artists…probably best of all.

As I think back on those years in that school in West Toronto, I think back with fondness. I remember every instance that I was as nervous and isolated as these three artists, but also the lessons and joys that came in the moments after.


Here’s three more from FAME for the road…





This series of posts is inspired by the “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” series at The Film Experience. Do check out all of the awesome entires in their series so far