Tassie Cameron of Cameron Pictures Inc.
June 19, 2019
Written Originally for the Innis Herald
Tassie Cameron is the creator of the hit Canadian TV series, Rookie Blue and cofounder of Cameron Pictures Inc.
Studying at the University of Toronto
Tassie took courses in various disciplines ranging from English to Religion to French. In choosing to enrol in her first Cinema Studies class, her initial thought was that it would be an easy way to pass time on campus.
“I realized very quickly that it was as academic as anything else, in fact harder. My first Cinema Studies course was incredibly difficult but I loved it.”
It was during her time at the University of Toronto that Tassie recognized her passion for film and television. She felt that the knowledge she was gaining could be applicable in a possible career working behind the scenes. She says that by the time she graduated with an Undergraduate Degree, she was ready to pursue goals that could lead her into production work.
“I remember making a list of all the things I loved including student theatre and poetry
and music and fashion and acting and film and television. It made me realize that rather than being a novelist per say or an academic, that I thought I might be well served in the entertainment industry.”
Tassie received a scholarship from Trinity College to study Film Studies in Paris, France for a year. She spent the year in devotion to critical theory research and emerged herself in the French culture. Following this incredible experience, Tassie was graciously offered a full scholarship to New York University where she pursued a Masters in Cinema Studies for two years. Tassie says her main goal in attending NYU was to have the chance to live in New York City.
Tassie ended up spending 8 years in New York, although she chose not to seek her PhD in Cinema Studies. Tassie worked as a PA and as an office coordinator for a documentary film company, as well as an assistant editor and as a post production coordinator in the film industry. Additionally, Tassie was a post production executive at the film division of HBO New York. All in all, she gained a significant amount of experience immersing herself into multiple aspects of the industry beyond Canada.
When Tassie turned 29 years old, she was determined to seriously pursue a writing career in television. The jobs she had, although excellent learning opportunities, she felt didn’t suit her well enough for the long term.
Tassie wrote a sample script featuring a funny female feminist character and was accepted to the Canadian Film Centre. From here, she began writing for Linda Schuyler’s Degrassi in the early 2000s. Tassie was able to examine the young female experience and through these characters, she addressed topics such as date rape, getting your first period at school, female bullying and first loves. Tassie says that offering that gender perspective to such matters was really inspiring for her.
“Almost every show I’ve been involved with has a strong, complicated, flawed female at the heart of it. It’s saying we exist, this is true, this is real.”
Co-Founding Cameron Pics
After working on Rookie Blue she was asked to consult on a number of different projects. She although felt that being a freelance hire wasn’t satisfying enough. At the end of the day, the projects that she would invest so much emotion into were not her own.
“I’d been sort of mulling over the idea for about a year before I put it into action.”
Tassie says she wanted to help writers realize their vision and give them a strong platform. The only way she would embark on this next step in her career was with her sister, Amy. Tassie would persistently ask Amy who continually rejected the offer until finally agreeing.
Advice to Students
“I don’t think ever having that kind of education is a bad thing for a writer. I think that having such a strong academic background for me has been invaluable and has made me a far better writer.”
Tassie says that she never thought of her education as a liability. She praises the programs here at Innis College, saying that she gained something from every Cinema Studies course that she took. Breaking down scenes and analyzing how those images are perceived still prove to be crucial skills that she uses today in the editing suite.
“I think that getting your foot in the door involves taking as many different jobs and working for as many different employers and companies and shows and producers and writers that you can…and being unafraid to do jobs that appear menial first and being really open to meeting people and being a good person and being noticed.”