Four teams selected for the inaugural NSI Series Incubator program

NSI Series Incubator

Top row from left: Hannah Johnson, Adrian Neblett, Reem Morsi, Cynthia Murdock; bottom row: Jessica Landry, Mostafa Shaker, Jonathan Joffe, Darcy Waite

This week, four writer/producer teams embark on their first days of training through the inaugural NSI Series Incubator program run by the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI).

This part-time, eight-month online program combines workshops, mentorship and hands-on training to guide teams from underrepresented communities as they meaningfully develop their scripted series idea into a fully produced proof-of-concept short film (a stand-alone short film, a scene from the series or a promotional trailer).

Participants will work through each step of the production process, create a series bible, final pilot script and receive up to $28K to fund their proof-of-concept film.

The National Screen Institute is proud to introduce the four selected teams and their projects. Full bios can be found at the end of this announcement:

  • Hannah Johnson and Jessica Landry, Winnipeg, MB – Ghosts of Lakeland
  • Adrian Neblett and Mostafa Shaker, Vancouver, BC – Where Do Babies Come From?
  • Reem Morsi and Jonathan Joffe, Toronto, ON and Calgary, AB – Zahra’s Faces
  • Cynthia Murdock and Darcy Waite, Winnipeg, MB – Zombies Don’t Eat Stupid People

“These talented creators are committed to the development of their unique stories,” says National Screen Institute program manager Jessica Gibson. “My hope is that through this program we connect them with amazing industry professionals and mentors who will help guide them as they create and realize their vision.”

NSI Series Incubator is divided into four phases, where writers and producers will receive training and mentorship based on their role and project. Writers attend a simulated writers room and draft a pilot script, while producers attend workshops, secure a director for the project, prepare for a pitch simulation and complete a hands-on internship at a leading Canadian production company.

Program faculty includes award-winning alumni Jeff Peeler (NSI Global Marketing) as program consultant, Karen Lam (NSI Drama Prize, NSI Totally Television) as director facilitator and Josh Epstein (NSI Drama Prize, NSI Features First, NSI Totally Television) as producer facilitator.

Linda Coffey (CBC, Telefilm) serves as writer facilitator and Morwyn Brebner (Coroner) as writers’ room facilitator.

This program is designed for creators from underrepresented communities including Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+), people with disabilities, those outside large urban centres (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal), people from regional and remote areas and various religious groups.

• • •

NSI Series Incubator is funded by Program Partners Telefilm CanadaBell Media; Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Strategic Sponsor Entertainment One (eOne); Supporting Sponsor Super Channel; Provincial Partners Manitoba Film & MusicCreative BC through the Daryl Duke and William Vince Scholarship Fund; Industry Partner William F. White International; Industry Supporters Company 3Entertainment PartnersLine 21 Media ServicesiSplice Films. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council. NSI gratefully acknowledges the private donors whose gifts also support this program.

About the National Screen Institute

Propelled by a visionary network of donors, private and public organizations, the National Screen Institute supports creators from across Canada to tell unforgettable stories. Through industry-informed training and mentoring in film, television and digital media, students and alumni find their voice and place on the global stage, inspiring us to shape a better world.

The National Screen Institute is committed to training participants from a diverse community of voices including Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, women-identifying, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+), people with disabilities, those outside large urban centres, those from regional and remote areas and various religious groups.

Meet the NSI Series Incubator participants

Hannah Johnson, Winnipeg, MB – Ghosts of Lakeland

Hannah Johnson

Hannah Johnson has produced over 70 hours of film, television and web content over six years. She has a background in production management and business affairs working on scripted and factual content and, in 2020, was accepted into the Canadian Media Producers Association’s (CMPA) Emerging Producer Delegation to Berlinale.

Hannah has worked as a production manager and producer for the Indigenous Music Awards on APTN; four seasons of CBC/APTN documentary series Taken about MMIWGMB2S; four seasons of CBC’s scripted dramatic series Burden of Truth; new APTN documentary series 7th Gen, Madison Thomas’ feature films Ruthless Souls and Finality of Dusk; Darcy Waite’s new comedy web series DJ Burnt Bannock for APTN lumi; and the virtual opening for the Winnipeg Art Gallery’s Inuit Art Centre Qaumajuq.

Hannah is also head of business affairs at Eagle Vision, overseeing all business affairs for projects in development, production and post-production. Across all genres and platforms, Hannah is grateful to have contributed to impactful content with talented collaborators.

Jessica Landry, Winnipeg, MB – Ghosts of Lakeland

Jessica Landry

Jessica Landry is an award-winning screenwriter and author based in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Her original horror feature My Only Sunshine was accepted into Whistler Film Festival’s 2020 Screenwriters Lab and is in development with Eagle Vision with Jessica attached to direct. She’s written on a variety of television projects, including Strays (CBC); Heartland Homicide (Farpoint Films); 7th Gen (Eagle Vision/APTN); and several movies-of-the-week.

Jessica is currently adapting the best-selling novels April Raintree (Eagle Vision) and Leaving the Witness (Sir Harry Films), and was recently selected for the CFC/Netflix Project Development Accelerator with her original horror/comedy series Catastrophe Queens.

As an author her debut collection The Mother Wound was released in May 2021, and her story Carbon Rites is set to appear in Aliens vs. Predators: Ultimate Prey out March 2022 from Titan Books.

Adrian Neblett, Vancouver, BC – Where Do Babies Come From?

Adrian Neblett

Adrian Neblett was born in Montreal, Québec, and studied computer engineering at the University of Manitoba, where a sign on a telephone pole seeking “African American” background performers reignited his passion for make believe.

A local casting director, at a subsequent audition, complimented his instincts triggering a decade-plus long pursuit for the truth of each moment. Growing tired of waiting for access to be able to tell the stories he wanted to tell, a new journey of producing work was born.

Films include Blood Pressure, Wytch Craft, Ketchup With Me, Legacy Festivals: US: A Black Peoples Festival 2021. IG/Twitter:@ebonyskygod

Mostafa Shaker, Vancouver, BC – Where Do Babies Come From?

Mostafa Shaker

Mostafa Shaker is a comedian, writer, actor and producer based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Starting his career in Cairo, Egypt as a theatre actor and on-stage performer, in 2018 Mostafa made his transition into film and television to pursue his dream of telling stories for global audiences.

After moving to Canada, he has worked as a junior writer on the Oprah Network’s The Real Houses of... He has also written and produced a number of independent shorts, commercials and a limited web series called Thank You for Ghosting.

Mostafa has been expressing his comedic artistic voice through projects that reflect his immigrant experience. His recent project Muslim Mingle is a 30-minute comedy TV series inspired by his real-life experiences as a gay, Arab, Muslim immigrant in Canada. The project is currently in early development.

Reem Morsi, Toronto, ON – Zahra’s Faces

Reem Morsi

Reem Morsi is a Toronto-based Egyptian / Canadian writer / director / producer. She worked as a professional scuba diver then a human rights officer at the United Nations and other international organizations for a decade prior to becoming a filmmaker.

Her first feature film as a writer / director / producer, Hysteria, is a Telefilm Talent to Watch project currently in post-production (with support from the CFC/Netflix Accelerator Program and Canada Arts Council) to be released March 2022. Reem also directed her second feature film, the action / drama The Last Mark (TIFF Selects 2021). She has directed two episodes of Virgins, a new CBC Gem series.

Reem’s feature film script Bootleg received many accolades including the Rainin Grant / San Francisco Film Society (2016) and the Telefilm Canada New Voices Award (2017). She was selected for Berlinale Script Lab 2018 and Bootleg was especially highlighted at the Berlinale Talents opening ceremony. Reem was chosen for the Realness Pan African Screenwriting Residency and Cannes Film Festival Atelier des Cinemas du Monde.

Reem’s film credits include Their Feast (TIFF 2012, BBC, Cine Sud), Nostalgia (WIFTV 2015), The Door (Whistler 2016, best drama at Yorkton Film Festival 2017, Audience Choice Award and best screenplay at WIFT Showcase 2018), Show & Tell (winner of WIFT/BravoFact pitch competition, Golden Sheaf Awards for best director, best short subject and best emerging director at Yorkton Film Festival 2017). Reem won the Canadian National Genre Competition by WIFTV for her series sci-fi genre concept Fish.

Jonathan Joffe, Calgary, AB –  Zahra’s Faces

Jonathan Joffe

Jonathan Joffe is a Canadian writer and director with over 20 international industry awards.

From his start volunteering at a community television station, he has worked his way up to writing and directing feature film and television projects. Highlights of his work include the Telefilm feature The Burlesque Assassins which screened around the world; the feature film Ism which was nominated for best picture at the San Diego Film Awards; the short film Cost Of Living which aired on CBC and TV Japan; and the award-winning TV pilot Desiciti which was nominated for best international pilot at Banff World Television Awards (The Rockies).

Jonathan is an alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre. His screenplay Happy Thoughts won the Alberta Screenwriter’s Challenge, and his TV work has earned him a place in the Corus Writer’s Apprentice Training Program, where he interned on season three of Killjoys. He has also interned with veteran Canadian showrunner Frank Van Keeken.

Cynthia Murdock, Winnipeg, MB – Zombies Don’t Eat Stupid People

Cynthia Murdock

Cynthia Murdock, a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation, has amassed an impressive body of work as a producer in a short period of time since her graduation from the National Screen Institute’s CBC New Indigenous Voices program.

Her work as an executive assistant for the Manito Ahbee Festival led to being invited to work as production coordinator on the series Taken. Cynthia also wrote and directed an episode of Taken’s companion web series Survivor Stories.

Cynthia graduated with a diploma in television and radio broadcasting from Academy of Broadcasting. She has additional training in acting and screenwriting, and was chosen for the CMPA’s Diversity Mentorship Program as a producer.

Cynthia was a key member of Eagle Vision’s international award-winning #SacredMMIWG campaign for the Government of Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, travelling around Canada to help create digital media and social media content that reached over one third of all Canadians.

Cynthia produced the short film First Session, winner of the RBC Pitch Competition. Cynthia is an associate producer, head researcher and digital media producer on the upcoming factual series 7th Gen.

She is currently in development as the lead producer on the six-part limited series April Raintree, based on Beatrice Mosionier’s groundbreaking novel. Recently, Cynthia produced the comedy series DJ Burnt Bannock for APTN lumi, with the support of the Bell Fund. She is associate producer on Madison Thomas’ upcoming feature Finality of Dusk.

Darcy Waite, Winnipeg, MB – Zombies Don’t Eat Stupid People

Darcy Waite

Darcy Waite, founder of Turtle Mountain Media, is one of Canada’s fastest rising producers and content creators. Darcy recently joined the board of directors of the CMPA.

He recently produced his first feature film through Telefilm’s Talent to Watch program, Ruthless Souls, which premiered at imagineNATIVE and was featured at Berlinale in 2019. Darcy is currently producing his second Telefilm-supported feature through Eagle Vision, Madison Thomas’ Finality of Dusk.

Darcy produced the award-winning CBC Short Docs film Zaasaakwe which played at imagineNATIVE Film Festival. He produced the short Lost Moccasin for APTN, which also played at imagineNATIVE. Darcy was associate producer on the CBC Short Docs film Fourth Period Burnout.

Darcy won the 2017 imagineNATIVE Web Series Pitch Competition as the producer of Madison Thomas’ web series Color of Scar Tissue, starring Star Slade, Mary Galloway and Kaniehtiio Horn. The series premiered at imagineNATIVE 2018 before airing on APTN Digital. Darcy won the imagineNATIVE Film Festival’s Rising Producer Award in 2018.

As a writer and director, Darcy focuses on comedy. He was a director shadow on APTN’s sketch comedy series Caution May Contain Nuts season four. Darcy’s film Case Number ####, supported by the Winnipeg First Film Fund Grant, was an official selection of the California American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival and the Los Angeles Skins Festival where it was nominated for best narrative short. In 2018 Darcy’s script Zombie’s Don’t Eat Stupid People was selected for Whistler Film Festival’s Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship program.

Darcy is a graduate of the National Screen Institute’s IndigiDocs program and CBC New Indigenous Voices. He completed the CMPA Emerging Producer Mission to Berlinale (reporting to Global Affairs Canada) in 2020 with fellow producer Hannah Johnson.

Darcy’s web series DJ Burnt Bannock, which he created, wrote and starred in, is currently in post-production and is produced by Eagle Vision. DJ Burnt Bannock will be released next year on APTN’s lumi platform. Additionally, Darcy is the host of APTN’s first ever game show Bull’s Eye and the host of Eagle Vision’s upcoming factual series 7th Gen. Darcy previously hosted two seasons of ATPN’s hit youth series That’s AWSM!

Currently, Darcy is on the writing team of Eagle Vision’s sitcom Family First, with the development support of APTN and the Canada Media Fund. Family First will star Lorne Cardinal (Corner Gas).

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