Todd McCauley: NSI Features First was a welcoming environment where all participants were seen as equal

Todd McCauley

Storytelling is more important than ever as we all face the unique challenges this year has brought us.

Stories entertain, inspire and transform. They remind us of where we come from and where we can go. We need more stories to free our imaginations and open our hearts to create a path of understanding and healing.

To mark the season of giving during December, we’re sharing impact stories from our alumni and board members to show the power of story in action.

Current NSI students are blessed by the commitment of NSI’s Board of Directors – 100% of whom have donated to NSI’s annual fund. Please join them in supporting our students by donating today and making the power of story even more powerful.

Today’s impact story comes from Todd McCauley, NSI Features First grad.

Todd completed his NSI training in 2016 and went on to produce his Features First film, SuperGrid. The film premiered at Calgary International Film Festival and won the award for best feature at the Saskatchewan Independent Film Awards in 2018. Todd’s current project, The Medicine Line, completed its run in the 2020 Whistler Film Festival Producers Lab and Power Pitch Competition earlier this month.

The NSI Features First program provided a supportive environment for Todd to develop his skills as a writer and create lasting friendships with his peers and mentors.

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If you could describe your experience with NSI in three words what would they be, and why?

Supportive. Fostering. Championing.

Summing up my experience in the NSI Features First program, those are the first words that come to mind.

Truth be told, when Hugh Patterson and I found out that our feature film project, SuperGrid was accepted into the program I initially thought it was an error; a Dystopian action thriller set in near future Saskatchewan didn’t seem like something a national film workshop would choose to get behind.

I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the institute was, and how quickly a support structure was formed around us and the other participants. The genres were a broad spectrum, and they were all seen as equals as we went through the program gathering the tools we were looking for to become better filmmakers and storytellers.

How did your training through NSI help you get to the place you’re at in your career today?

I’ve taken the lessons learned from the programs and have grown as a writer and filmmaker; a thicker skin, a way to break through the ‘imposter syndrome’ that held me back for years and a drive to continue doing what I love.

The stubbornness has paid off and my new project The Medicine Line has been accepted into the 2020 Whistler Film Festival Producers Lab and Power Pitch competition; so, it’s true that you never, and shouldn’t, stop learning.

How did your instructors, mentors and peers influence you to become a better storyteller?

I learned quickly in the very intensive workshops that I had talent and developing skills as a writer, and there was no ‘competition’ with the other writers and producers in the program. We were all helping each other on the very bumpy road to getting our films made. The program not only let us form peer relationships, but friendships that still last.

What advice or encouragement would you give a prospective applicant considering NSI programs?

My advice to anyone with an idea or a project is that they should seek out programs like the ones offered at NSI. You can only strengthen your skills, find the like-minded dreamers and fill the toolbox you’re going to need to tell your stories.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

The Medicine Line.

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