NSI New Voices students tell us about their internships

Last week our NSI New Voices students attended their graduation ceremony, including the screening of their short films, at Winnipeg’s Cinematheque.

Catch up with them below as they tell us about their internship experiences.

• • •

NSI New Voices is our course for young Aboriginal adults aged 18-35 with a desire to work in the film and television industry.

Workshops and seminars in the classroom phase are led by industry experts. Students intern with a broadcaster or independent production company giving them firsthand knowledge of the business. Training also includes the production and screening of three short films. Minimum wage is provided throughout the course.

Frances Koncan


For the past few weeks, I interned at 680 CJOB News. I thought I’d be pretty terrible at this as I wasn’t too sure what radio had to do with writing, but I channeled my inner Anderson Cooper and went into it with an open mind, open ears and an open heart.

Turns out, being a radio reporter is a lot like being a writer:

#1. Your job is to observe the world around you, find the stories and communicate them.

#2. Nobody seems to have any family or friends or loved ones, and everybody works 24/7. And we all love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. And no we’re not lonely. We feel very happy and immensely fulfilled, okay?

#3. We all drink coffee. So much coffee. Too much coffee, if there is such a thing.

But there are several key differences too:

#1. As a reporter, your office cannot be a café on the Left Bank and you cannot Ernest Hemingway the day away throwing back gin and tonics like they are going out of style. The newsroom does not care about your creative process.

#2. You have to put on real clothes that project an image of professionalism and maturity instead of pulling from your regular wardrobe of pieces that fit your expertly cultivated lifestyle brand. That Cubist-inspired skirt you wore that’s a big hit with your friends who paint watercolours/work at an artisanal donut shop isn’t going to impress anybody in a newsroom dominated by grey wool pencil skirts and polyester blend pleated-front black dress pants.

#3. Reporters have pension plans and think about retirement while writers have generally assumed they probably won’t live past 50 anyway so what’s the point.

My internship at 680 CJOB News was a valuable learning experience. It was an absolute pleasure to go to work every day and be surrounded by such intelligent, articulate and passionate people who challenged and inspired me on a daily basis.

Reporting is a fact-based form of writing. It is very rational and logic and I am neither of those things.

It was hard for me to objectively observe people. It was hard not to empathize with them and care about them. It was hard to stay distant from the stories we were reporting on because, for me, people are the heart of all stories.

During my time at CJOB, I learned a lot about how to be an effective leader, how to encourage people to apply their strengths and build up their weaknesses, when to push and when to sit back and let them figure things out on their own, and how to inspire, communicate and collaborate with others on a shared vision.

While I can’t say I’d ever actually want to be a reporter someday (I have no organic talent for news stories that aren’t about pop culture), I have a newfound appreciation for the work that journalists in all mediums do, and a sharper eye for finding the humanity and optimism in even the most mundane and bleak of stories.

I am looking forward to seeing where the new skills I have acquired through NSI New Voices take me in the future, and it is with sincere gratitude that I thank everyone involved in the program for all their hard work and for providing this wonderful opportunity.

Vince Fontaine


For my internship I was placed with Nüman Films, with director/executive producer Jeff Newman. I was to report to producer/production manager Jocelyn Mitchell first thing Monday morning.

Whether it was planned or just my great luck, I was brought in right at the start of a project called ‘Be Mouthy,’ a commercial for the Manitoba Dental Association. It was only the start of my first day but I was allowed to sit in on a production meeting with all the crew involved and watch and listen to these experienced professionals. This was the type of stuff I wanted to see and hear.

Things moved very quickly after that. I was asked to do several script breakdowns to figure out props, makeup effects and wardrobe choices. Then, I met the assistant director Ian Bawa and he and I joined Jeff for the first day of location scouting.

After lunch we went to our first location. The script required multiple houses and schools. Over the week I got to see many beautiful homes with vastly different owners. It was a privilege to be invited into so many gorgeous houses with so many cool designs and features.

On another scout we looked at schools such as Churchill High School and Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute. I was asked to work on the call sheets and actor contact lists after that and got to see how the entire shoot would be planned out.

After a week looking at casting submissions and locations, Jeff Newman held another production meeting and was kind enough to invite some crew out to his family cabin in Falcon Lake.

I had to drive out with Tyler Funk, the director of photography, and used it as an opportunity to talk about the visual elements of filmmaking, the different technology and what each of us preferred to work with. I got great feedback and it was just another bonus to my learning experience.

The day at Falcon Lake was very relaxing and fun. (Tubing!) What a great way to have a production meeting.

I was exposed to many aspects of the filmmaking process. I saw how to create more commercial work – something I felt I really needed to learn. I got to do research and search through production company programming to get an idea about the type of shows currently selling.

Finally the week of production started.

For four days I helped out with the crew as they brought the commercial to life on screen. I was assigned as craft services person and I took the responsibility very seriously: I made sure to always keep the crew fed and happy.

I also got to see Jeff Newman in action and took many mental notes on how to a direct a crew for future projects. It was this exposure – seeing the entire production in action, watching how each person fulfilled their roles, how shots were set up and filmed – that I was really looking forward to.

The days flew by and there was so much to take in. At the end of each day, despite the hard work and standing for long periods, I went home feeling happy and invigorated. This is what I definitely want to be doing with my life. The production in action is really exciting to be part of.

After four days of production, I joined some of my NSI classmates in a sweat out in the country. I’d sat in a sweat lodge once before but never actually did the ceremony involved. I felt completely exhausted after the sweat and slept a lot over the next few days. It took a while to finally feel energetic again and I’m not sure if that was one of the effects of it but it was quite the experience.

My final week at Nüman Films was not as hectic as the preceding weeks before production and I savoured my time there. I was able to do more research and sought advice on developing pitches that [I hope] to do after I complete my NSI training.

Much like my class time, I realized that I was yet again attached to this place and working with such wonderful people. I can’t believe the program has come to its end but I will always remember the learning I got from it all.

It really has changed my entire outlook on life. This thought occurred to me on my final morning on the way to Nüman Films. I was super excited that I’d completed the program and can now [begin] various projects.

Still, the morning weather was dark and rainy, inspiring a feeling of melancholy sadness. That emotion didn’t last long as I was treated to a delicious Vietnamese lunch by Jeff and Jocelyn and we discussed my plans for the future, that there is nothing to be sad about and I have much to look forward to.

I will miss this entire experience and have greatly appreciated everyone who helped me throughout the course. Thank you to everyone involved for helping me and making this an excellent summer of great learning and fun.

Matthew De Paz


As my time in the NSI New Voices course comes to a close I can finally look back at all the places I’ve been and all the things I’ve seen and learned.

After our films [Ed: students were divided into three teams to make a short film as part of the course] we all went our separate ways.

Based on the criteria I provided about where I’d like to intern, NSI matched me up with Zell-Koj Studio. It was a perfect match. From day one I was always busy. I never ran out of things to do in this emerging production company. I edited trailers and demo reels, filmed and wrote a press release. All things I was worried I wouldn’t get included in.

The staff at Zell-Koj – which is comprised of David Zellis, Roger Boyer, Craig Guiboche and Shelly Anthis – would hand me off to one another to help them in each aspect of their work and, once I was done, I’d immediately be on to the next project.

They were so welcoming and really made me feel like part of the company. I learned a lot. There were some tough times, a bit of grunt work, learning about constructive criticism, etc. But it was really the push I needed to get serious about filmmaking.

Anybody can take a course but once you have a real job, you actually want to get up in the morning. Now I’m forced to move on from Zell-Koj but this isn’t goodbye. With the history I now have, I look forward to working with Zell-Koj in the future.

Melissa Raven


One door closes, another is opened.”

My internship placement was at Precursor Productions which is in-studio audio and they work on audio for [things like] interactive games, films and music.

On my first day there I met Andrew Yankiwski who started the company and runs it on his own. He introduced me to the space which has three studios and showed me how he runs things.

I felt comfortable with him right away because he likes to talk and I don’t that much. He was kind of intimidating at first because he really knows his stuff but when I got to know him better I knew he was down to earth and an all ’round nice guy doing what he loves.

Andrew got me involved right away on various projects. He showed me a song he just finished mastering and it was all the way from Africa. I was really surprised about the wide variety of projects he does – from corporate training videos to feature films to teaching classes.

The classes he taught were very informative and easy to understand because it’s all one-on-one with him and I got to sit in for free. I learned quite a lot from the classes such as how audio came to be what it is now. I got to work on the audio for part of an animation short film he did previously. I worked really hard on it and he loved it.

I had a feeling I would be placed in the area of audio because throughout the classroom training I was the audio girl and kept being told it was in high demand. I love that they placed me there because I got to further my audio skills and already had the foundation for it.

I now feel very confident about my audio skills and believe that what I learned during my internship is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was very sad to leave but happy about what I got to take with me. I got to learn from an experienced and knowledgeable professional in the industry. I am so thankful for Andrew and for NSI because I couldn’t have asked for a better experience during my internship.

It was our graduation recently and I honestly couldn’t believe I’d done it. The time just flew by and I’m sad it hasd to end but am also so grateful for everything NSI New Voices gave me.

I am truly going to miss everything about NSI from my classmates to my instructors to the staff to all the amazing people I met along the way. I am so lucky and thankful to have been able to complete the program. This may be the end of the program but it also means another opportunity is coming my way and I have NSI New Voices to thank for that.

Cody Blacksmith


After six weeks in the classroom, we all went off to work on three short films that won the pitches we all did. My pitch was one of the three that was picked.

During pre-production, Vince [Fontaine] and I auditioned various actors for the two roles – all of whom were great. We had our cast and had rehearsals for a few days before the shoot. It was finally time to go to camera with the two actors, my teammates Vince and Melissa [Raven] and our camera mentor (and professional cinematographer) Kim Bell, aka KB.

The first day of our two-day shoot got off to a rocky start. [Fate was] not on our side and we were missing a cable from our gear package that we could not start without. But we had a few rehearsals with the camera and got hold of the cable we needed and began shooting.

The sky kept changing from cloudy to sunny between and during shots but we tried to make it work. We shot all day and got everything.

We started day two by prepping the house to look like it was the middle of the night and applied makeup to the five people in the big scene of our movie. The process took most of the morning and some of the afternoon.

Before we were finished with makeup, we got news that the footage from the previous day had something wrong with it. But we moved forward and shot the rest of the film which took us into the night.

The next step was to take our (on time and under budget) footage into the editing room. We took two days to look through all the footage and pick the shots we liked. We then went to assemble our footage with Julie Hackett [who helped] give our monster life. Two days of editing ended and our internships began.

I interned at Animiki See.

I started at an awkward time for them. They were in the process of moving their offices to another. So the first couple days included helping them pack up the office and move. Once settled into the [new place] I got to transcribe interviews from Aboriginal Day Live. That took up most of my time with them but I also got to help organize a shoot with them for their Digital Drum series and look at some of their upcoming projects.

The program has now come to an end. It was great and I can’t wait to see what happens after I take all that I’ve learned into the field – some of which I am already using.

I would like to thank all the presenters for coming to talk and sharing their stories and knowledge with us. I would also like to thank everyone at NSI for everything.

Kelsey Smoke


My experience interning with Nu-Media was phenomenal.

I went to lots of places and met lots of new people. [It] actually helped to line up work for my music and goals in my career. I’d like to thank Jordan Molaro for having my back, as always – much respect, bro.

Cross Lake was a great experience and the meetings are always great.

Thanks to Tyson Anderson for his crazy work and letting me be part of shooting HellnBack’s new video featuring Lightning Cloud. And thanks to Riel Munro and Kyle Nobess – Riel was a great mentor on the video shoot and Kyle [was] a great friend and acting mentor. He helped me realize I want to act and do music more than anything in the world.

I’d also like to thank Ursula Lawson [program manager] for being understanding and caring 🙂 and Trinity Bruce for all his work and keeping it real with me, along with all the other staff at NSI.

[Thank you also] to all the great actors, directors, editors and producers for all the exciting things they brought to the table. I’d like to thank anyone I forgot and all the students who attended and stuck it through: may the road be bright and full of lights to guide you on your journey in life. I appreciate all the help and services I’ve received from anyone who helped me on my journey.

• • •

NSI New Voices is funded by Presenting Sponsor Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection; Program Partners Telefilm Canada and the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD); NSI Aboriginal Training Programs Partner Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries; Strategic Sponsor Shaw Media; Supporting Sponsors Entertainment OneSuper Channel, Corus Entertainment and imagineNATIVE; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; and Industry Partners Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (ACCT) and the Directors Guild of Canada.

Leave a comment