Cameron Bailey started his career as a film reviewer for the University of Western Ontario’s student newspaper. He’s now CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival.
Bailey recently joined veteran journalist Paul Wells on stage in Toronto for an interview about the future of film and his own path to success.
“I thought I was going to Western to learn how to be a journalist. I thought that would be a great career,” Bailey told Wells for a podcast taping.
“I love reading, I love writing. I love the written word.”
Bailey was studying English literature when he joined his student newspaper, The Gazette, where he and Wells first met. He began by reviewing music and local bands that would play in the London, Ont., area. His role evolved into theatre reviewer. Bailey also attended the Stratford Film Festival and got a glimpse into the world of film.
“I took a film course on contemporary cinema at Western, which was just an elective but that just blew my mind open,” he said. “And that turned me on to movies.”
After his studies, Bailey began reviewing movies for publications in Toronto, as well as working for TIFF. But he never expected to become its leader until one of his friends suggested the idea.
“Once he had done that, and planted that seed, it was always there,” he said.
Bailey now holds an honorary doctorate from Western and recently voted as a judge for the Academy Awards. During the interview, he shared how there are many skills that he learned during his time writing for the Gazette that he uses on a daily basis.
“I felt at the time that we had the freedom to write what we wanted to and to find our voice,” he said.
“There is nothing more valuable than being able to express yourself in a way that you feel like yourself is coming out. The Gazette was my foundation for learning how I could express my thoughts.”