Arts & Entertainment

Attended KCSS • 1976–1981

Inducted September 2017

Jeff

Poulis

See Induction Video

Film and TV set & prop designer master

I’ve been entertaining people all my life. Being a middle child, I craved attention, and I realized at a very early age that I was very good at getting and keeping that attention. I had a personality that was a perfect fit for the film industry. But I need to explain the journey that led me to this career. And where else better to start than here at King City Secondary School.

My years at KCSS were a lot of fun. Being a social and outgoing person, I made a lot of friendships that survive to this day. And that is a big part of who I am. I had a very close group of friends, but I also spent time socializing with other students. I didn’t care who you were. I hung out with the jocks, the library crowd, the shop gang, the musicians, the brainy types - you name it. I thought it was my job to keep them all entertained. I just didn’t realize that this would be my calling as an adult. My school marks were never great, and I know I frustrated many of my teachers. But I also made them laugh. And I know a few of them are still chuckling as they read this.

I played a lot of sports growing up, and my years at KCSS had me representing the school across the board in competition. Hockey, volleyball, basketball, gymnastics and track & field were my favourites, and we did very well in tournaments and league play. Up until the end of high school I had not ruled out trying for a career in hockey, and thought a scholarship route might be worth pursuing. It was a nice dream, but I simply wasn’t good enough to pursue it realistically. But team play was huge in molding my personality for the adult work force. I also enjoyed theatre arts, and had an interest in exploring acting as a career. I looked at enrolling in a college or university program for the Arts, but what was being offered just didn’t seem interesting enough to me. My final year at KCSS was 1981. There would be no post-secondary school education for me.

I joined the work force, and was hired at Simpson-Sears, learning retail. I also worked for a ski shop, and finally a hydraulics company. But something else that had been around me all my life was about to present itself. My father, William G. Poulis, was a cameraman and film producer, and during the summer growing up, dad would occasionally take us to work with him on news stories for the CBC. I was introduced to the media world at a young age, meeting reporters, broadcasters, celebrities, mayors and sports figures, among others.

Fast forward three years. In 1984, my world changed. Drastically. My sister Andrea had followed dad into the industry and through her, (and future husband, Glen), I was given an opportunity to join film union IATSE #873. And although there is an apprenticeship program in place to bring young members along, I kind of ignored that, because my personality kicked into high gear. Did I mention that I’m good with tools and mechanics and have an eye for art? Well I never realized this to be an asset, because it just came to me easily. But in the film industry, I had instant success with directors, producers, actors and cameramen, because I took care of all the details that were going in front of the camera lenses. Now I had their attention. My career as a Property Master had begun. I was 22 years old.

Did I make mistakes? Yes. But I learned a lot that in that first year, and I’ve never stopped learning to this day. My next challenge would be working on movies and television shows. I was offered my first show in 1985 for ABC TV – Pippi Longstocking. Creating props, outfitting actors with accessories and filming on a pirate ship were the daily routine that summer. My apprenticeship was over. I was a young professional. The last three decades have been very rewarding for me. I had gained the trust of my peers, and I was now working on Hollywood feature films. I developed terrific friendships with members of the film community, and am proud of many of the movies that I’ve helped create. (Not all were terrific experiences, but that’s life.) Some film highlights include Sea Of Love, The Cutting Edge, The Santa Clause, Fly Away Home, Finding Forrester, Cinderella Man and most recently the Academy Award winning, Spotlight and Shape of Water. I also managed to find myself acting in front of the cameras a few times, notably in Fly Away Home, and in a very special TV film called First Do No Harm. Yours truly got to act in a scene with Meryl Streep. Highly recommended.

Going to work everyday and entertaining people worked for me. And I still have their attention.

Written September 2017

 

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