At the National Screen Institute, we’re blessed to see firsthand the difference training makes in the lives of storytellers. On our website throughout December we’re sharing impact stories from many of our talented alumni who’ve told us how NSI training transformed their lives and careers.
Lisa is an award-winning writer/director/performer raised by the ocean on Canada’s east coast and now living in Toronto. She’s passionate about stories from underrepresented voices, food, anything woo woo, and courage. Recent directing credits include Rogue Bridal, a new half-hour comedy pilot from Blue Ant Media; Dino Dana (2xMore Sinking Ship Director’s Lab recipient); and the bravoFACTUAL doc Meet Maurice Crosby.
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How did your training through NSI help you get to the place you’re at in your career today?
A short film is often a calling card, and the film I made through NSI Drama Prize certainly helped show off my voice and visual style. It had a gorgeous festival run around the world, and was then sold to broadcast.
I think the act of finishing something you started, especially when you have the support of a program through NSI, is utterly fulfilling, motivates you to keep going and reminds you that if someone said yes once, they probably will again, so you might as well keep trying. I just keep trying.
What was most memorable or helpful about NSI training?
So much! I loved the chance to go to Winnipeg (my only time there thus far!) and really get out of my comfort zone. It was amazing to immerse myself in the project with my teammate, to be given the time and resources to explore an idea, to push at it and pull at it, until it became something that felt right and said what we wanted it to say.
Did you make enduring connections with peers and industry folks?
I made a few friends in this program that I still talk to to this day. I feel like I could still reach out to my program mentors if I had questions, some five years later. It’s also just a joy watching where fellow participants have journeyed on their own career paths. I love watching the work they create, and love that social media lets us keep in touch.
Have you continued to work with any of those people?
Yes! I recently made a television pilot with a fellow participant. So fun!
What advice or encouragement would you give a prospective applicant considering NSI programs?
I think working with an organization like NSI helps you to gain connections with people across the country that you might not have otherwise, and allows you to tap into their resources.
My theory is that ‘the worst they can say is no,’ so I’m keen on applying for anything you feel fits. There’s a lot of joy that comes with putting yourself out there, especially when you get a ‘yes’!
Our current landscape makes it very difficult to get funding for a short film, and short films are where we break ground, where we show our voices, where we often start. A program like NSI Drama Prize was invaluable for me to start honing my craft.
What has your career trajectory looked like between when you completed training and now?
Since NSI, I have continued to seek out learning opportunities and was accepted into the Cineplex Screenwriting Program at the Canadian Film Centre, and the Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab. I have also transitioned to working in television, and now work full time in film, television and digital media.
What was the most transformative part of your learning experience?
I think any time you’re given an opportunity to take your project from idea to creation you transform a little. Having the support of a team/organization helps you build a little more resiliency, a little more bravery so you can keep creating and contributing.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
As is often the case, I’m juggling a number of projects including writing for a tween show for CBC, in post production on a choose-your-own-adventure interactive piece, and in development on a digital series and feature.
Where can people find out more about your work online?
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