National Screen Institute names 21 participants selected for NSI Business for Producers

Top row from left: A.J. Demers, Andrea Feltrin, Ervin Chartrand, Fonna Seidu, Jacob Pratt, Kate Fenton, Stuart Matheson; middle row: Carmen Forsberg, Bram Timmer, Flore de Bayser, Ian Bawa, Jen Viens, Richard Agecoutay, Priyanka Desai; bottom row: Alex Sangha, Carla Robinson, Alex Duong, Hedyeh Bozorgzadeh, Jason Arsenault, Kulbinder Saran Caldwell, Seth Williams

Top row from left: A.J. Demers, Andrea Feltrin, Ervin Chartrand, Fonna Seidu, Jacob Pratt, Kate Fenton, Stuart Matheson; middle row: Carmen Forsberg, Bram Timmer, Flore de Bayser, Ian Bawa, Jen Viens, Richard Agecoutay, Priyanka Desai; bottom row: Alex Sangha, Carla Robinson, Alex Duong, Hedyeh Bozorgzadeh, Jason Arsenault, Kulbinder Saran Caldwell, Seth Williams

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is honoured to welcome 21 emerging Canadian producers to the NSI Business for Producers program – a ‘how-to’ training program designed to increase the network of producing talent across Canada delivered in partnership with Canada Media Fund (CMF).

Through this new distance learning program, participants nurture creative ideas and navigate the logistics and legalities of screen-based storytelling in a COVID-19 environment. An online, six-week training boot camp begins today. Participants will receive one-on-one mentorship in January and February 2021.

NSI committed to selecting participants from a diverse community of voices including Indigenous and/or women-identifying and/or People of Colour and/or LGBTQ2+ and/or people with disabilities.

The program begins with a session from Samantha Kaine of the Producer Pledge – an initiative of the Independent Media Producers Association of Cinematic Talent (IMPACT) and part of the Indigenous Screen Office’s Solidarity Fund – which calls on Canadian film and television producers to acknowledge and dismantle systemic racism in the industry and commit to radical change.

NSI Business for Producers is led by Ursula Lawson, manager of programs and development, who was recently promoted to take the management lead on this and NSI New Northern Voices. Working with Ursula is RBC Associate and program assistant Oyinkansola Bolaji-Idowu and program advisors Jeff Peeler (Baroness Von Sketch Show, Still Standing) and Jennifer Podemski (Future History, The Other Side, Moccasin Flats). Jeff and Jennifer are also both NSI graduates.

Under Ursula’s management, NSI New Northern Voices – designed to eliminate barriers for northern residents wishing to access creative media arts training – is intersecting with NSI Business for Producers to provide a fast-track for one alumnus who will develop their emerging producing skills alongside experienced industry professionals. The producer will then work with regional writers to develop and produce a project in northern Manitoba.

“The National Screen Institute is committed to supporting producers from rural and underserved communities outside large urban centres so we were pleased to receive a record number of applications from across the provinces,” said program manager Ursula Lawson. “We are proud that our chosen participants represent a wide range of Canadian communities.”

“We worked with Jeff Peeler and Jennifer Podemski to develop a fully-rounded curriculum to ensure participants can successfully move creative projects forward while developing entrepreneurial skills for sustainable long-term businesses.”

The entire program is being delivered online through a customized learning portal so producers from across Canada can attend from the safety of their homes.

“Canada Media Fund is proud to partner with NSI to provide a meaningful and safe training program for emerging producers to accelerate their careers in a COVID environment,” said Valerie Creighton, President and CEO, Canada Media Fund. “NSI Business for Producers provides guidance and mentorship for producer participants eager to take on bigger projects and grow their businesses, and writer and director participants with a desire to learn about the craft of producing screen-based stories.”

NSI warmly welcomes the 2020 participants who will each develop their creative projects through the program.

  • Richard Agecoutay – Spirits of Summer (Toronto, ON)
  • Jason Arsenault – Off The Wharf (Charlottetown, PEI)
  • Flore de Bayser – The Outsider (Waterloo, ON)
  • Ian Bawa – The Amazing Alan Cassavettes (Winnipeg, MB)
  • Hedyeh Bozorgzadeh – Brother, Man (West Vancouver, BC)
  • Ervin Chartrand – Highway 45 (Selkirk, MB)
  • A.J. Demers – Old Growth (Toronto, ON)
  • Priyanka Desai – Fearless Inks of the Nisga’a Nation (Vancouver, BC)
  • Alex Duong – Breaking Bread (Burnaby, BC)
  • Andrea Feltrin – Natural Habitat (Vancouver, BC)
  • Kate Fenton – Filmores (Toronto, ON)
  • Carmen Forsberg – #generation:ocean (Richmond, BC)
  • Stuart Matheson – True Hearted Punk (The Pas, MB)
  • Jacob Pratt – Lands Wandered (Regina, SK)
  • Carla Robinson – Bully (Brantford, ON)
  • Alex Sangha – Emergence – Out of the Shadows (Delta, BC)
  • Kulbinder Saran Caldwell – The Nightbird (Toronto, ON)
  • Fonna Seidu – What Comes After (Toronto, ON)
  • Bram Timmer – Netherworld (Calgary, AB)
  • Jen Viens – Autonomic (Montreal, QC)
  • Seth Williams – Baiter (Canmore, AB)

Read participants’ bios.

Boot camp training focuses on developing creative and business skills. Instruction is presented by leading industry experts including Richard J. Lewis (Westworld), Jennifer Holness (Stateless, Shoot the Messenger), Nathalie Younglai (Coroner), Melanie Nepinak Hadley (WarnerMedia) and Laura Michalchyshyn (chief creative officer and co-president, content production, Blue Ant Studios).

Participants get exclusive access to presentations, roundtables, masterclasses, interactive and networking sessions with top industry producers and their peers who will share their experiences. During the latter part of the program, participants are matched with a mentor from their region to identify individual challenges and areas of need.

NSI Business for Producers is funded by Program Partner Canada Media Fund (CMF); Strategic Sponsors Telefilm Canada and The Winnipeg Foundation; Supporting Sponsors Corus Entertainment and Super Channel; Industry Consultants Executive Education Centre, Asper School of Business, Facilitated Solutions and People First HR Services. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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