About Us


The Powell River Digital Film School

Founded in 2008

A comprehensive “Dual Credit” Motion Picture Program

PLUS course electives and short certificate programs for international and/or mature students

For youth 19 or younger anywhere in B.C. whether graduated or not without charge.  International students are accepted as well. 

Yes, it’s true. If you are between the ages of 16 and 19, living in B.C.,  and desire to do a comprehensive, hands-on film program that will help you get work, and make your transition into further film studies at some of BC’s finer film school Universities,  this 5-month, 4 days a week Film Program sponsored by SD47 is the choice for you.  A course like this in Vancouver would cost 10s of thousands of dollars.  For you it is without charge. You need to apply online before September 30 of any year to start the Program the following February (second term).  You can transfer schools in you final term.  Talk to your parents, talk to your counsellor.  Apply now!

In our intensive 5-month course, you will gain a thorough understanding of camera, lighting, screenwriting, producing film, editing, and marketing yourself and your product. You will also have an awesome time and get very inspired.

If you live outside the Powell River area — no problem. So far, we have billeted B.C. students from Port Moody, Terrace, Comox, Nanaimo, Langley, Creston, Campbell River and Kelowna. They’ve enjoyed the balance of laid-back coastal living AND all of the recreational and cultural activities available in Powell River.

Check out HERE to discover what it’s like to stay in Powell River.

Gain a Step Up once you graduate

Once you successfully complete our versatile course, your Powell River Digital Film School Graduation Certificate will help you further your filmmaking career in one of Vancouver, B.C.’s highly respected university Film Programs:

  • Through our dual-credit program, you will automatically gain 3 University credits within the Emily Carr University Film Program, if you would like to continue Film Studies there.
  •  You’ll on a no-wait list to be interview by Capilano University‘s Motion Picture Program, avoiding a potential waiting list of one to two years.

Many of our students are either now enrolled in Capilano’s program and/or working in the film industry as well as attending Emily Carr Programs.

If you’re a High School Graduate and/or a Mature Student 

We also offer a 5-day summer program (make and screen your own films in less than a week!), courses of several-week durations, and a two-month option in October and November are being considered.

If you’re an International Student

Learn exciting new skills in a beautiful country. Discover the fun of Canada’s west-coast lifestyle. Create a portfolio of films that you’ve written, edited, and produced.

It’s all waiting for you in Powell River, part of spectacular British Columbia. Fill out an application on this site to gain a place at the Powell River Digital Film School

Please fill out on-line form HERE and we hope to see you in February.


The Powell River Digital Film School
is a 20-High School credit Film Program that offers a comprehensive, hands-on experience of the world of Filmmaking. It is also a 3 credit course to Emily Carr University.  (ou pay less to continue studies there)  There has never been a more exciting time to gain entry into this thriving field. With the substantial growth of the independent film industry, support for new filmmakers, and the increase in specialty channels and other output mediums, there are countless opportunities in this demanding field.

The Powell River Digital Film School is here to help emerging talent cut its teeth on creative projects using state-of-the-art facilities, while developing a strong and commercial infrastructure within Powell River.

Students will learn not only how to move into this industry within the many positions available, but will also develop skills as team players, problem-solvers, communicators, and tolerant, higher-level thinkers. They will not only learn how to make films but also why we make films.

Within our FILM program, our goal is to give students more than an education. It is to provide them with a concrete first step towards a future career. Using industry-standard procedures and equipment, students will develop hands-on abilities with equipment used in television, documentary, and dramatic film as well as learn the professional work ethic and protocol of working successfully in the industry.

Our instructors have years of experience in their fields. Our facilities provide individual state-of-the art workstations designed to enhance individual attention. Students will be involved in a variety of filming projects, lectures, and workshops. Emphasis will be on creative intuition.

Tony Papa


Tony studied Film and Television in New York as well as the Norman Jewison Canadian Film Centre in Toronto. Producing films and television for over 20 years, Papa has won numerous awards for his work including a Gemini For Best Documentary for his feature Doc entitled Suzuki Speaks. Papa ran a successful production company called Avanti Pictures for 12 years in Vancouver BC. producing many award winning films for television and the screen.  In 2008 Papa founded the Powell River Digital Film School in Powell River BC. In connection with Capilano University, positioned as a University transition course.

FILMMAKING involves leadership, problem solving and team work. It involves communication. It is about working towards a common goal working together. It’s about overcoming the lack of resources and producing creative works that answer questions, reveal information and inspire. It’s about seeing your work presented to an audience and your ideas communicated to others.  Inspiring others as well as becoming a better person.

Within that framework, from idea to presentation, there is plenty of potential for the integration of curriculum goals, learning outcomes, higher order thinking skills, and technical learning. At the same time, the filmmaking process is also about developing awareness, creativity and self-esteem.

As well as teaching the “how to’s” of filmmaking, it is also important to ask “why” we make film? Why tell the story? Why does it matter? These are questions our students begin to answer as they enjoy the learning process?  Students discover their potential, their community, their family and themselves in this process.

As we learn to make films we look at the fast-changing world outside the classroom and suggest how filmmaking, as a leaning tool, can help prepare our children for a global, visual, information-saturated, media intensive planet.

We are living in a visual world. A world that has led to a new visual literacy which, whether we like it or not, will increasingly surround our children and become the primary form of communication of the new millennium. We will look at how exponential change in computing, bandwidth and technology are changing how we learn and what we learn both inside and outside the walls of the classroom.

A few of our other instructors:

Christian Piers Betley


Christian has written many screenplays that have been produced and continues to work in the industry as a writer and producer. What he brings to the Film School is invaluable and wonderful.

Heather Conn

Writing Instructor

It’s all about stories
Whether they’re on the web, in a magazine, book, government plan, or on TV, stories are what grab people by the heart. Everyone loves a story. That’s what I do: take facts and ideas, interview people, add imagination, clarity, and organization, and produce written stories that inspire — an action, organization, reader or audience.

“To call forth the mind and heart of others, one’s own work has to be from the mind and heart. You must be willing to ask real questions: What are the issues? What are the possibilities? What do you feel? What local stories do you have to tell?” – Jean Houston, A Mythic Life

Heather Conn is an author, award-winning freelance writer, editor, and writing instructor/coach. She wrote, produced, and directed the 2013 short documentary A New Way: An Organic Garden Changes Lives and has co-written two short films for Bravo! TV: Divine Waters, and Corona Station. The latter screened at a number of film festivals in North America, including Vancouver International Film Festival. She has also written segments for the children’s show Hopscotch for CBC-TV Vancouver.

Heather taught screenwriting as a full-time instructor in professional writing at Selkirk College in Castlegar, BC. She has also taught creative writing at Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre and for the Vancouver School Board and Vancouver Coastal Health. She has created and facilitated numerous private writing workshops in a variety of genres, and has been an instructor at Powell River Digital Film School since 2011.

Heather has published in 50+ magazines and newspapers, including The Globe and Mail, Vancouver Sun, Georgia Straight, Reel West, and Canadian Geographic. She is the author of Gracie’s Got a Secret (MW Publishing, 2011) and co-author of Vancouver’s Glory Years (Whitecap Books 2003). Former corporate communications manager for BC Transit, she wrote the commemorative book Vancouver’s Trolley Buses 1948-1998 for a fiftieth anniversary event.

As owner of Sunshine Coast SoulCollage®, Heather offers workshops in creative self-discovery to diverse groups in the Pacific Northwest. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College, Baltimore. Find out more at www.heatherconn.com and www.heatherconnblogs.com.


Kelly-Ruth Mercier


Kelly-Ruth is an active actor, director, producer, writer, and teacher in theatre, film and
television. She holds an M.F.A. (Directing) from UBC and a B.A. (Acting) from Dalhousie
Kelly-Ruth is an award-winning film director, writer, and producer. She won the prestigious
MPPIA Film Award and MOVE OUT CLEAN had its World Premiere at the Whistler Film
Festival in Dec 2010. As a DGC “Kickstart” recipient, she won the Leo Award for Best
Screenwriting in a Short Drama with her film NO ONE KNOWS YOU LIKE YOUR
MOTHER. She is a graduate of Women in the Director’s Chair and has received support
through CTV & Creative Women Workshops Association, BC Arts Council, National Film
Board, Women in Film, and the NS Arts Council.
K-R’s breadth of experience has had her invited to teach in a number of specialties. She is an
instructor in the Acting Program at UBC and teaches Script Analysis at Vancouver Acting
School; she has taught at The Art Institute (producing / production planning), and Vancouver
Film School (Writing Dept: Pitching), and has guest lectured at UBC Creative Writing, Women
in Film, and in numerous workshops and private classes.
Ms. Mercier’s last theatrical outing, LOBBY HERO, was reviewed by Colin Thomas of the
Georgia Straight thus: “For 20 bucks, you can go see Lobby Hero at the Havana Theatre and have an
experience that’s more satisfying than that of anything currently playing on this town’s bigger, more expensive
stages” and that “under Kelly-Ruth Mercier’s direction, the acting in this production is tremendous.”
K-R has guest-starred on television on AMC’s The Killing, The Hub Network’s The Haunting
Hour, Showtime’s The L Word, CTV’s Robson Arms and Cold Squad, and CBC’s Black Harbour, as
well as the WB series Smallville and Supernatural and has appeared in a number of features
(including Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep”) and tv movies (most recently: “Virtual
Lies”). She has graced stages in 9 of Canada’s 10 provinces. Kelly-Ruth has juried for the
Gemini Awards, Leo Awards, and Hot Shots Film Contest.

Danny Nowak

Director of Photography

Danny started his career as a maverick young cinematographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia. After making a dozen of his own short films, he excelled behind the camera, shooting various projects around the world. In recent years, he has served as Director of Photography on many TV movies and over 20 feature films, including Tristar’s “The Big Hit”, Neil Simon’s “The Goodbye Girl” and Bruce McDonald’s “Hard Core Logo”. Awards for his work include a Gemini (Canada’s Emmy) and top prize from the Canadian Society of Cinematographers. Keeping in time with the latest advancements in technology, he is moving into 3D projects, and has taken several elite 3D cinematography courses in Los Angeles and Vancouver. A patriot of Canadian Cinema, Danny is devoted to the development of the indigenous and international film art.

David Perun

Property Master/Animator

David Perun’s involvement in the arts began over 30 years ago in Toronto, when he worked creating props for the live operatic production of “Ra” by Canadian composer Murray Schaeffer. David’s art training includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Quebec in Montreal, with a major in sculpture. While in Montreal he also studied art history at the University of Concordia and Life Drawing under Francois Barbeau & Francois Vincent at the National Theatre School.

David has received several recognitions and awards for his artwork. His awards include the McAbbie Award in fine art and his installation piece “Train”, part of a juried group exhibition in Montreal, was featured on the CBC news. He has been involved in community art projects in Toronto, Montreal, Santa Fe and Vancouver.

David continues to work as a Property Master in film production where he has helped to design and create props for over 35 Hollywood productions. A list of his film work can be found on the ‘Internet Movie Data Base’ at: www.imdb.com

David with his wife Audrey and daughter Sophia moved to Powell River in 2005.

Lowell Boran

Tech Support/Website Manager

Lowell was a student of the school in the founding year of 2008. He went to the Capilano Motion Picture Program and eventually returned to Powell River and works as an assistant to the school with tech support as well as instruction on steady cam, website design, pixilation, social media, and more.