At the National Screen Institute, we’re blessed to see firsthand the difference training makes in the lives of storytellers. Throughout December we’ve been sharing impact stories from our talented alumni who told us how NSI training transformed their lives and careers.
JJ is a Cree First Nations director and writer living/working in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Her short films have screened at film festivals around the world including CBC’s Headdress which had its world premiere at the 2017 Hot Docs Film Festival and also screened at New Zealand’s Māori Land Festival and Montana’s Big Sky Documentary Festival. Her MTS Stories From Home film Bayline screened at the 2017 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival and St. John’s International Women’s Festival.
JJ has directed episodes of various documentary television programs including APTN’s Taken and The Other Side.
• • •
How did your training through NSI help you get to the place you’re at in your career today?
I took part in NSI IndigiDocs a few years back with my sister [and created The League through the program]. It was the first official documentary short film we made. It was thanks to NSI that we had that opportunity. We met many mentors and fellows whom we are still in contact with today.
What was most memorable or helpful about NSI training?
What I recall best from my program experience was that it included a trip to Toronto to attend Hot Docs Film Festival. It was super helpful to attend a festival with an agenda to see certain panels and go to networking events. Having our NSI mentors there to assist us made it less daunting.
Did you make enduring connections with peers and industry folks?
I’m still in touch with both mentors and fellows from the program. We also cheer each other on when someone has a film in a festival, makes it into another program or wins an award. NSI helped add to our community of filmmakers.
Have you continued to work with any of those people?
I have worked with several of my mentors and fellows on their projects. I’ve often been a director/writer and they the producer. It certainly makes the process less intimidating when there is already an established connection or professional relationship.
What advice or encouragement would you give a prospective applicant considering NSI programs?
I would encourage reaching out to former participants of programs and seeing if the program is a good fit for you.
What has your career trajectory looked like between when you completed training and now?
After completing the program and putting our film out there we were approached by local producers to work on their documentary TV series Taken (season 2). And from that work came more work in doc/factual programming. From those experiences we’ve built up our resumes and reputations for more opportunities. We’d still like to do more scripted content and are steering our working goals that way.
What was the most transformative part of your learning experience?
For me personally, the lessons can take a while to sink in. And often the lessons don’t click until I’m in the middle of a job which can be very nerve-racking. However, because I know this about myself, I’ve also learned to give myself a break and just have patience.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
I’m in early development on my first feature. I’m also an associate producer on CBC’s The Trickster.
Where can people find out more about your work online?
Got alumni news?
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 our 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.