At the National Screen Institute, we’re blessed to see firsthand the difference training makes in the lives of storytellers.
Throughout the past month, we’ve been sharing impact stories from our talented alumni who told us how NSI training transformed their lives and careers. Up today is producer Shannon Fewster who, in 2015, made Divorce Photographer through NSI Drama Prize with writer/director Christine Buijs.
Shannon is a Toronto-based producer. She has produced several award-winning web series including Kristal Clear and Lady Ada’s Secret Society. Other credits include The Amazing Race Canada, Born To Be Blue and Midnight’s Children. Shannon has several feature films in development.
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How did your training through NSI help you get to the place you’re at in your career today?
NSI Drama Prize allowed me to create my third short film as a producer. The knowledge I gained from producing short films [helped] me to become an associate producer on feature film Born To Be Blue starring Ethan Hawke.
What was most memorable or helpful about NSI training?
The instructors were very supportive and passionate about what they were teaching us. The industry professionals they brought to boot camp were really insightful. The quality and subject matter of the selected projects was inspiring.
Did you make enduring connections with peers and industry folks?
I’ve continued relationships with the producers who were training alongside me, and I’ve kept in touch with many of the NSI staff and see them when they’re in Toronto for TIFF, etc.
Have you continued to work with any of those people?
They are now industry connections and we support each other, even though we haven’t found projects to work together on.
What advice or encouragement would you give a prospective applicant considering NSI programs?
Put your best foot forward. Seek out advice from your friends, family and other colleagues before you submit. Watch any videos supplied by NSI about that program. If you know someone who has been successful in the past, get in touch and see if they can offer advice.
Lastly, make sure you’re surrounding yourself with a strong team. If you’re a new writer, find a mentor, if you’re a new producer, find an executive producer to flesh out your team.
What has your career trajectory looked like between when you completed training and now?
I was associate producer on Born To Be Blue and did business affairs for New Real Films for four more years. I produced Hollyweb Best Series Kristal Clear with the support of the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and Ontario Creates. In addition, I’ve associate produced for two seasons of The Amazing Race Canada (a truly wonderful adventure!)
I founded Coconut Effect Productions and have now produced a Telefilm Talent To Watch feature Québexit.
I’ve branched into writing, creating digital series Lady Ada’s Secret Society and several other projects in development.
What was the most transformative part of your learning experience?
Assistance with legal paperwork, incorporation and clearances was vital; support for the director in re-writing her story to make it as strong as possible and finding practical production tricks to make it within budget.
What project(s) are you currently working on?
Can I Live, season 1 (digital project in development); Lady Ada’s Secret Society, season 1 (digital); Kristal Clear season 2 (IPF funding secured); post production on Québexit; and season 8 of The Amazing Race Canada.
I’ve written the pilot for a new television project called Cul-De-Sac, and several other pitches for original content.
Where can people find out more about your work online?
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