Arnold Lim: my time with the National Screen Institute was inclusive, supporting

Arnold Lim

Rachel Young

Outreach and Engagement Lead

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 Arnold Lim, an NSI Features First grad.

Arnold credits his NSI training with helping him out of his comfort zone, pushing him to take his project to the next level.

Arnold, a filmmaker from Victoria, BC, entered the NSI Features First program in 2017. His film, All-in Madonna, was in its early stages. After training with NSI and honing his craft, Arnold’s film will premiere at Whistler Film Festival on December 9.

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

Inclusive, challenging and motivating.

From the very beginning, my time with NSI was inclusive and supporting; taking me as I was at that point in my film career, while remaining challenging and pushing me to be my best. I was constantly pushed outside my comfort zone to grow and open my eyes to what it takes to level up every day. I take many of the lessons I learned from that experience with me on every project.

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

NSI was a pivotal moment in my career as a filmmaker. My writing partner Susie Winters and I came in with a passion for film and a feature script for All-in Madonna.

The NSI Features First program helped propel our project through mentorship and training needed to improve the script [and helping us understand] the infrastructure needed to push our project forward.

I believe our work with NSI helped make us more attractive to grants, eventually leading us to apply for and secure a $32,500 BravoFACT grant to make the All-in Madonna short, and then to the Telefilm Talent to Watch for the feature project.

Our feature premieres at the Whistler Film Festival on December 9, and one of the very first major steps for our project was securing the NSI training that was a Northern Star for us to follow on the journey to making our feature.

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

The opportunity to work with the amazing Shelly Quade and Melissa Kajpust from NSI was instrumental. From script notes, to working with the other [NSI Features First] teams were some of the keys to the program.

Being from a smaller film community in Victoria, I hadn’t been exposed to many different filmmakers, and I am proud to say I am still friends with members of other [NSI Features First] teams. They have become valued peers, who offer their expertise to our team to this day.

I never would have met them if it wasn’t for NSI, and that camaraderie and pursuit of continued learning continues on my path to becoming a better storyteller to this day.

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

If you are thinking of applying for NSI, I would say don’t hesitate. It won’t be easy, but the challenge will help push you further. I am proud of what I accomplished while with NSI, and I would do it again if I could.

What has your career trajectory looked like between when you completed training and now?

I went from having made primarily unfunded shorts when I entered the NSI Features First program, to making funded short films, to now having my first micro-budget feature film.

I still have a lifetime of learning ahead of me, and there were a lot of amazing partners who helped that journey along the way, but NSI was one of the key cogs in helping me grow my craft and understand just how much more I needed to learn. I am still only at the beginning of my career, but that humility is what I try to bring to set every single day.

What was the most transformative part of your learning experience?

There were several transformative moments. Working with the mentors and learning and being inspired by the amazing guest speakers helped me realize that, while it was going to be difficult, making our feature All-in Madonna was possible. As daunting as it seemed, it was possible. Eventually it became a reality and the seed for that was planted at NSI.

What project(s) are you currently working on?

Our NSI feature All-in Madonna premieres at the Whistler Film Festival online starting December 9, and we are working feverishly to get the film ready for its premiere. The film follows Maddie, a small-town teenager who discovers dark secrets about her father and must reconcile herself with the father she thought she knew, and the man he may actually be.

My next project is Best Friend Me, a dark-comedy web series I am producing about mental health that we hope to launch on World Mental Health Day 2021.

Where can people find out more about your work online?

You can follow me at, or follow our NSI-supported feature All-in Madonna on Facebook or Instagram @allinmadonna.

What is your favourite Canadian film / TV show / web series?

I love Canadian film so it’s hard to pick just one. I am going to cheat and pick two. I really love Sarah Polley’s Away from Her. Secondly, I loved Albert Shin’s In her Place. I think these two directors are dynamite and deserve way more recognition than they get.

There are so many more up-and-coming filmmakers in Canada too that are amazing but those are two directors whose films I will watch 100 percent of the time for the rest of my life.

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