Meet the 2020 NSI Totally Television students

Mark Ratzlaff Nimisha Mukerji Eva Thomas Darren Anthony Rachel Cairns Brandon Laraby Eva Colmers Gordie Lucius

Top row: Mark Ratzlaff, Nimisha Mukerji, Eva Thomas, Darren Anthony; bottom row: Rachel Cairns, Brandon Laraby, Eva Colmers, Gordie Lucius

Winnipeg – National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI)

We are proud to announce the teams selected for the 2020 edition of NSI Totally Television, presented in association with Bell Media. The course provides customized training for Canadian producer/writer teams to develop story ideas into polished packages for the global market.

This outstanding and highly competitive program, now entering its 17th edition, continues to evolve its curriculum and deepen its faculty pool to best prepare students and their projects for next-level success.

“The selection committee were spoiled for choice when choosing this year’s teams. We were amazed by the number of strong applications,” said Tom Hastings, director, original programming, drama at Bell Media. “The final selection reflects the range of diverse teams and projects.”

The course gets results: both phase two projects from the 2018 edition of the program were picked up by production companies for further development, six series have been produced, five series have been optioned, one project was produced as a feature film and 3,000+ jobs have been created in Canada’s screen industry through NSI Totally Television projects.

NSI Totally Television 2020 teams

Reign of Durga

Producer Mark Ratzlaff and writer Nimisha Mukerji (Delta, BC)

Dwayne Has Issues

Producer Eva Thomas (Wallaceburg, ON) and writer Darren Anthony (Etobicoke, ON)

The Trafficked

Producer Rachel Cairns and writer Brandon Laraby (Toronto, ON)


Producer Eva Colmers and writer Gordie Lucius (Edmonton, AB)

Check out their incredible bios below to learn more about each student.

Teams will develop their television projects with the top showrunners and story editors in the country. Past guest faculty includes Aaron Martin (Another Life, Slasher, Degrassi), Karen Walton (Orphan Black), Mark Ellis and Stephanie Morgenstern (X Company), and executives from Halfire (Alias Grace), Sundance Productions, Take the Shot Productions (Frontier, Caught), WME (William Morris Endeavor Entertainment), IPG (Intellectual Property Group), Bell Media and CBC.

This 12-month distance learning course consists of two phases, each with an in-person boot camp intensive in Toronto. Teams work with story editors to fine-tune their script and concept, and meet a thoughtfully curated slate of pitch and marketing consultants, execs from major broadcast networks, streaming services, and production and distribution companies to deepen their market intelligence to best identify where their project fits. Teams advancing to phase two attend Content London in December 2020.

NSI Totally Television faculty are program advisor Julie Di Cresce and program manager Liz Janzen.

NSI Totally Television is made possible by Presenting Sponsor Bell Media; Program Partner Telefilm Canada; and Supporting Sponsors Super Channel, Corus Entertainment and CBC Gem; Provincial Sponsor Creative BC through the Daryl Duke and William Vince Scholarship Fund. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

Meet this year’s students

Mark Ratzlaff (producer)

Mark Ratzlaff

Mark Ratzlaff is an awarding-winning producer, director and writer whose work has been featured on PBS, HBO, CBC and VICE.

An alumni of the Canadian Film Centre’s Directors Lab, Mark has written, produced and directed multiple segments for Sesame Street and recently been a writer on Amazon Studio’s series Dino Dana, produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment.

Mark’s collection of short films have screened internationally, and for his work on feature documentaries he has been recognized with both a CCE Award and a CSA nomination. He was also recently a producer and editor on the digital series Real Life Stories. Mark is represented by Meridian Artists.

Nimisha Mukerji (writer)

Nimisha Mukerji

Filmmaker Nimisha Mukerji’s award-winning work spans features and episodic television.

Her debut film 65_RedRoses was selected by Oprah Winfrey for her Documentary Club on OWN, and her follow up feature Blood Relative earned her a second CSA nomination for direction.

For her narrative work as a writer/producer she has won multiple Leo Awards, and her most recent feature Tempest Storm was commissioned by Super Channel and ARTE with distribution by Mongrel Media.

Nimisha directing work for television can be seen on Disney, Lifetime and CBC. She has also been a writer/producer for segments on Sesame Street.

Eva Thomas (producer)

Eva Thomas

Eva Thomas is a producer, writer and story editor.

She participated in the inaugural imagineNATIVE/Harold Greenberg Fund Indigenous Story Editing Mentorship. As a story editor/mentor, Eva has worked with writers in the imagineNATIVE Screenwriting Intensive, Magee TV Diverse Screenwriters Mentorship program, and Women in Film and Television (WIFT) – Vancouver’s Tricksters and Writers program.

Eva was selected for the 2018 LA SKINS Native American Feature Film Lab in Los Angeles, the 2019 Netflix-Banff Diversity of Voices Initiative and the 2019 Telefilm Talent to Watch program.

She will be producing her first feature in 2020.

Darren Anthony (writer)

Darren Anthony

Darren Anthony is a playwright and screenwriter based in Toronto.

His first critically acclaimed play Secrets of a Black Boy launched with a sold-out run at the Music Hall. After touring around the United States, its final run was presented on the main stage at Theatre Passe Muraille. Darren is also currently working to adapt Secrets of a Black Boy into a feature film.

Darren won the 2019 Telefilm Canada New Voices Award, in partnership with the Toronto Screenwriters Conference, for his family sitcom Dwayne Has Issues. More recently, Darren was selected as one of ReelWorld’s Emerging 20 filmmaker fellows.

Rachel Cairns (producer)

Rachel Cairns is an award-winning multidisciplinary content creator.

She was selected for the 2019 Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee Short Film Creation Lab as emerging producer for ShoeGazer which premiered at the Oscar-qualifying HollyShorts Festival.

Her digital series Mom & Me has over 5 million hits on YouTube with 13K subscribers.

Her most recent directing project Street Series recently premiered at the Female Filmmakers Fuse Festival and will have its Canadian premiere at Female Eye Festival in spring, when you can also catch Rachel on stage in the Tarragon Theatre’s Production of Orphan Song.

Brandon Laraby (writer)

Brandon Laraby

Brandon Laraby has been writing since he discovered a Buffy The Vampire Slayer script book at his local comic shop.

The first-ever ‘Inktern’ for the online screenwriting community inkCanada, he cut his teeth writing interviews and creating content for the site. Most recently, he headed up the writer’s room for The Dead North, a web series which is securing financing. He has also published a techno-thriller entitled 404 and plans to publish his next novel The Tomb in 2020.

A passionate advocate of inclusivity, Brandon has devoted the last 16 years to his work in closed captioning and accessibility at CTV/BellMedia.

He resides in Toronto with his thriving family and a handful of loyal guppies named Bob.

Eva Colmers (producer)

Eva Colmers comes from Germany but now calls Edmonton home.

She founded No Problem Productions and has written, directed and produced many award-winning short films in the dramatic, documentary and experimental genres including The
Suburbanight, Happy Birthday, Mango!, 2.57k and We Regret to Inform You …, and the long-form NFB documentaries The Elder Project and The Enemy Within.

Eva tells stories of under-represented people and has received major awards such as AMPIA’s Rosie Award for best producer (2019), Rosie Award for best director, EDA Award for best social
journalism (DOXA Festival, Vancouver), best experimental film (Female Eye Film Festival, Toronto), best short film (Golden Sheaf Award) and best experimental film (NYC Independent Film Festival).

Eva is an alumna of Women in the Director’s Chair, a recent Directors Guild of Canada member and eager to work within television production.

Gordie Lucius, writer

Gordie Lucius

Gordie Lucius is an Edmonton-based performer and comedy writer.

For the past decade Gordie has worked for Rapid Fire Theatre, Edmonton’s longest running improv company, as both a performer and content creator. He has also written a few sketches for CBC

He currently hosts/writes for a comedic educational nature web series called Frick, I Love Nature which won $50K in funding from TELUS STORYHIVE’s 2018 web series edition. Since then Frick, I Love Nature has won an Alberta Film and Television Award for best variety program. You can currently also watch Frick, I Love Nature on Air Canada flights if you want to weird out your flight neighbour.

Keep the story going and donate today

At NSI, we’re passionate about nurturing storytellers because stories connect us all.

Please consider a donation to support these talented students as part of your charitable giving. Big or small, your gift will provide value-added essentials that enhance their training experience.

Tax receipts are issued for all gifts. Thank you for considering a donation.

About the National Screen Institute – Canada

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is a charitable, not-for-profit organization. Renowned for having given many content creators their first breaks, NSI provides customized training, mentorship and production support through courses like NSI Totally Television, CBC New Indigenous Voices presented by NSI, NSI Features First, NSI IndigiDocs, NSI New Northern Voices and TELUS STORYHIVE.

All media enquiries

Liz Hover, Director, Communications
Tel: 204-957-8481 or email:

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