NSI Lifestyle Series Producer students report on their final day of bootcamp

That’s it. The end of bootcamp for our NSI Lifestyle Series Producer students. Catch up with the final day of training below. You can also read about day oneday twoday three and day four.

Rachel Coe, Paperny Entertainment, interning on Yukon Gold


Rachel has been working with Paperny Entertainment for four years and is currently the associate producer on Yukon Gold for History Canada. She has a BFA in film production from the University of British Columbia.

“Today was fully dedicated to a deconstruction case study of You Gotta Eat Here with Steve Mitchell. It was fascinating and, because we had the entire day, we were able to go really in depth with some of the points we had touched on earlier in the week. Steve provided so much detail and some great reference material that I’ll be able to study and use during my apprenticeship.

This week has been an amazing experience. We’ve had so many talented industry leaders come and share their knowledge and insights with us. Now the trick will be making sure that I internalize everything I’ve learned and can apply it to everyday production. The next eight weeks of my internship will allow me to draw on everything I’ve discovered in this crash course.

I’m so grateful to everyone who came to speak with us this week. And I’m especially thankful to Al [Magee] and Brandice [Vivier]. They put together an amazing program that covered every base, pulled from their networks to snag all of our guest speakers, and used their extensive knowledge of the industry to give us an overview of series producing that we couldn’t have received anywhere else. Thank you!”

Melissa Smith, Big Coat Productions, interning on Love it or List it


Melissa has been a member of the Big Coat Productions team for the past five years. During this time she’s fulfilled many roles and is currently acting as the on-set producer for the Gemini nominated W Network series Love It Or List It.

“Well the week long NSI training course has come to an end! I feel so lucky to have been able to take part in such a wonderful program, and can’t possibly imagine more well-equipped people than Al Magee and Brandice Vivier to have run it. I’m left with mixed feelings; I’m eager to apply the things I have learned this week to the practicalities of production but at the same time I’m a little sad to leave this group of wonderful teachers.

We had a wonderful speaker today, Steven Mitchell of Lone Eagle Entertainment.

Steven has a very diverse background in production, which clearly serves him well as a series producer. It was so helpful to glean some of his insight into the intricacies of post production. Steven is so clearly passionate about what he does which lends to his concise descriptions of key tools that are needed to convey compelling stories in the edit process. For me one of the biggest takeaways from Steven was his descriptor of how music is used to convey a compelling tonality to a series – music transitions should be used like grammatical sentence structure. Music cues need to happen at exactly the right time i.e. where the comma or period would fall. Music is the audible punctuation that conveys the appropriate tonality of a scene.

Steven gave an overview of the importance of a clear vision of a series and the means by which you ensure your production team and the network are on the same page – before principle photography happens. Once the vision has been clearly defined, concise rundowns are a great tool for mapping out a production plan.

Strong processes need to be established in order to ensure the team communicates with one another and tasks are completed in a timely fashion to meet deliverables. Steven provided each member of the course with a binder full of useful templates (scheduling, press kits, rundowns etc.) that will certainly be a gold mine of information in the future. Thank you Steven.

Thank you to Big Coat Productions for giving me the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful program. Brandice, Al, NSI, and all who spoke to us this week, thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom and passion for this wonderful industry.”

Christina Velocci, Architect Films, interning on Decked Out


Christina is a communications graduate from York University and journalism graduate from Humber College. She has been working in the television industry for over seven years. Her experience includes television news as a production coordinator, videographer / reporter and, most recently, a news writer. Her current position is in lifestyle television as a researcher/coordinator at Architect Films

“I have to say the week was definitely topped off with an all encompassing day. The speaker today was not only inspiring but really, really organized. We all received binders with every possible information sheet we might need to create our own show bibles. Needless to say, all of us were very thankful to get it.

I think the best part of today was watching the show [You Gotta Eat Here] before and after it was re-envisioned and from rough cut to fine cut. It was amazing how much can be changed with the right music, editing and story choices. The first version seemed the same tempo but some of the music choices didn’t make sense. For example, one of the interviewees was a slow speaking man and was a bore to watch in the first cut but after some quick tempo music, it was like listening to a different person. The series producer (who had taken the show over) decided to use more of some interviews and less of others creating a better flowing storyline that made sense. The other cut seemed to go all over the place without a clear beginning, middle and end. Our teacher for the day really brought us through the process of getting a show that wasn’t working and making a more polished product from what he was given. Again, inspiring!

All in all a fantastic end to a great course. I hope I will be able to carry all the information with me on my road to becoming a series producer.”

Kate Green, Frantic Films, series TBD

Kate Green

Kate has over 15 years experience working in the film and television industry as a producer, director and writer. Kate’s passion and enthusiasm for each project is what drives Kate to produce quality entertainment on time and on budget regardless of genre. Find Kate on FacebookTwitter,LinkedIn and at Kate Green Productions.

“As I sit on the plane home my mind is swirling like a washing machine on the rinse cycle with new knowledge. The week went by so quickly and I have loved every second of it. Now, I just feel hungry for the chance to put it all into practice. I’m so excited about my apprenticeship and I also look forward to seeking out some more story editor positions to flex my ‘story muscles.’

Today Steve Mitchell, series producer for You Gotta Eat Here came to speak to us on the deconstruction of a show. Steve brought us each a binder full of examples of scripts, beat sheet, run downs, shot lists, schedules, one sheets and more. We were all blown away and let’s just say that Mitt Romney’s binders have nothing on Steve Mitchell’s binders. The information was so valuable and it was the meat I had been wanting to sink my teeth into.

Again the over-riding value came screaming back to me: have a clear concept and premise. Everything flows from that; how you lead your team and how you execute the episodes. I was here in Toronto last week for the NSI Totally Television course and we did a lot of work on concept and story structure. There are some obvious differences between factual television and scripted but the core concepts of premise and story engine are the same. I love this and I realized that I especially love a good, well told story regardless of the genre.

We were asked before the bootcamp started what areas we needed to strengthen. It’s difficult to answer this when you don’t have a fully formed idea of the skills a series producer needs in order to be efficient. After this week however, I can say with authority that Brandice and Al Magee have put together a comprehensive curriculum that has filled in the gaps for me and I can’t wait to just start doing the work and telling great stories.”

Jessica Vander Kooij, Cineflix, interning on Property Brothers


Jessica has been working on Property Brothers since its first season launch, most recently as an associate producer. Over the last 10 years in the industry she has worked on several lifestyle series and in live morning news as well as various awards shows.

“I can’t believe the week is over already. It’s crazy how quickly the week flew by. I’m still in awe and can’t stop smiling because this week has been so exciting and inspiring.

Steven Mitchell was an absolute delight to hear from today. Steve is the series producer on You Gotta Eat Here. I knew when Steve mentioned he worked on the Littlest Hobo we were in for a treat. He was super knowledgeable and organized. He even gave us all a binder full of reference materials from past and current shows he is working on. It’s funny how excited everyone in class seemed to get over the binder. I think we could have heard from both him and Al for a week, and it still wouldn’t have been enough.

I admire Steve’s passion for music in a show. He explains that it’s the subtext, the colour and emotion. This is so true. It really can make or break the overall storytelling of a scene.

While watching different versions of You Gotta Eat Here, I learned a weakness for myself that could be an issue if I ever have the opportunity to work on a food show. I’m not entirely sure I could handle myself – if I would want to eat everything and it would really become a problem. This brings me to another point that I know Brenda Myers (story producer for Candice Tells All) mentioned yesterday. When you work in this industry you become an expert on the show you are working on. I know how much I love construction and design from being emerged into the world of Property Brothers. Perhaps if I worked on a cooking show, I’d finally become a better cook!

This week has truly surpassed any of my expectations. It has been such a breath of fresh air. I’ve loved how candid each and every speaker has been and really let us into their world to help us grow to one-day be successful series producers.

NSI and Cineflix Productions: I cannot thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to participate in such a valuable program. Whoever was the brainchild behind developing this program deserves a giant pat on the back. I will certainly take every single bit of information I learned and use it to my benefit over the course of my career. I can’t wait to get back into the office on Monday. I’d better warn my series producer Christle Leonard, she might not be able to handle my excessive enthusiasm.”

Ann Whiteway, Cellar Door, interning on Chef Michael’s Kitchen


Ann fell into the television industry in 2001. She spent the last 11 years with Cellar Door Productions working on lifestyle, children’s and documentary programming.

“What a day! Thank you to Steven Mitchell for taking an entire day out of his busy schedule to come in to speak to us. Thank you to Brandice and Al for an incredible week.

Quote of the day: ‘You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.’

For me, today was the day that all the pieces came together; from development, to production to post and how to make it work seamlessly.

The key thing I took away from today is to hire a solid post production supervisor. That person is so important to the post process as they understand the process, the equipment, work flows and the time needed in offline and online.

Also important is to hire your own editors as they will be committed to your show and your post production supervisor will be more aware of how they work, their strengths and weaknesses and assist where and when needed.

On Monday, Al asked us to think about our individual definition of a series producer throughout the week. Here is my definition of a series producer/show runner:

A show runner:

  • Will be the creative lead on series and maps out tone and beat of each show
  • Ensures the creative vision of the show is known by everyone
  • Creates a clear bible for the show
  • Creates a schedule for pre, production and post
  • Creates a budget
  • Delivers the show on time and on budget

Required skills:

  • Strong work ethic
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work with others
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure

There really is so much more to a series producer/show runner – but I believe these are the key points.

Thank you to Brandice and everyone at NSI for putting this program together.”

Nicole Butler, RTR Media, interning on Mother of the Bride


Nicole has been working in television production for over 15 years. She is currently working as a line producer for RTR Media with credits including Mother of the Bride for Slice and Summer Home for HGTV Canada. She holds an undergraduate degree in film studies from Queen’s University and an MFA in screenwriting from York University. 

“What a great wrap-up to a terrific week. Today we were led through the bones of a series from leading a team and oftentimes making difficult decisions, to writing a generic breakdown for the series and consistently telling stories as part of a successful edit process.

Over this week, we have had many analogies for what a series producer brings to the table. Today we added to our list of analogies when Steven Mitchell was asked to describe his view of a successful series producer.

His take is that a series producer is responsible for setting things up so failure is not an option. And, that a series producer must act as a snowplow taking in fantastic discoveries, tapping into the passions of a team, providing vision and removing obstacles so a team can perform.

The development of the show rundown for You Gotta Eat Here was an amazing case study. We were all glued to our seats listening to the ins and outs of the process. It was great to hear Al Magee and Steven Mitchell talk about the process of naming scenes or major elements of a show rundown.

Using naming techniques seems like such a creative and fun way to communicate a concrete creative idea to a team. It was also great to review the need to write down and deconstruct every single beat of a series to discover and hypothesize the vision of a series and how the story should be told.

It was ‘a-ha’ moment to also think about the active use of repetition in a lifestyle series. The need to think about what an audience is taking away from a lifestyle series is really key. On top of pragmatic advice like how to renovate a room or where to go for dinner, lifestyle series also give comfort, entertainment, a place for people to discover characters and experience conflict that they wouldn’t generally experience in their own lives.

So, the use of repetition of certain elements of spectacle and story certainly gives a more rich experience to a viewer.

It was a great ending to the week to dig deep into one series and see how production decisions, approaches to casting, the overall vision of a series, the way that an editor tells a story, the types of music that are used and many factors all feed into the end product of a great television show.”

Program manager Brandice Vivier – who runs the NSI Lifestyle Series Producer course – is also writing about bootcamp. Read about day oneday twoday threeday four and day five.

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