NSI Drama Prize Faculty

Elise Swerhone, Program Manager


As manager of programs and development, Elise runs NSI Drama Prize and is co-manager of the NSI IndigiDocs course.

Her extensive work includes the feature documentaries TuTu Much and Ballet High as well as several documentaries for CBC’s The Nature of Things.

She has made over 30 documentaries which have been shown around the world including work for the NFB, Global TV, CBC, HGTV, Vision, National Geographic and Discovery US.

Her dramatic work includes Miss Manitoba, Now & Then, The Mayor of Odessa, episodes of Adventures of Shirley Holmes and the MOW My Mother’s Ghost. Elise is also an alumna of NSI DramaLab.

Danishka Esterhazy, Director Facilitator


Danishka Esterhazy is a graduate of NSI Drama Prize, NSI Features First and the Canadian Film Centre’s Director’s Lab.

Her debut feature Black Field won best feature drama at Vancouver’s Women in Film Festival and best Canadian feature at Toronto’s Female Eye Film Festival.

She is a recipient of the prestigious Kodak New Vision Award for most promising Canadian director awarded by Women in Film and Television Toronto.

Danishka is currently a member of the pUNK Films Femmes Lab – an initiative for women filmmakers founded by director Ingrid Veninger and funded by Oscar-winning actor Melissa Leo.

Her second feature film H&G recently premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival and will have its theatrical release in March 2014.

Shereen Jerrett, Writer Facilitator

Shereen Jerrett

Shereen has filmed everything from vampire castles in Romania to Leila’s Hair Museum in Indiana.

She has made films about neurotics, nerds and family members. She works both in indies and commercial venues and her award-winning work has screened at festivals around the world.

Shereen’s recent work includes writing a dramatic feature film script for APTN; writing/directing an hour-long documentary on Mardi Gras with Buffalo Gal Pictures; directing episodes of the Gemini winning X-Weighted III series; and she has produced, written, shot and edited the doc TV series Flat City Stories for MTS television.

She works as a freelance script editor and has been a reader and writer facilitator for NSI Drama Prize since 2001. She also teaches various filmmaking courses at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba.

She is currently in production on two new media projects (a documentary and a non-linear drama) and editing season two of Flat City Stories.

Brendon Sawatsky, Producer Facilitator


As director of programming at NSI, Brendon directs the development of all new programs and is accountable for the delivery of all NSI courses.

Prior to his current position at NSI, Brendon focused on producing film and television. This resulted in producer credits on six feature films, a television sitcom, two television movies and a number of television specials, short films and music videos.

He previously worked for the National Screen Institute as a program manager and before that at the Winnipeg Film Group. A more recent role was as a producer for the National Film Board. He is also the chair of Film Training Manitoba.

Associate faculty

Executive producers & producer mentors

Brendon Sawatzky, Inferno Pictures
Trent Carlson, Anagram Pictures
Rob Merilees, Foundation Features
Blair Powers, Sinking Ship Entertainment


Ron Hay, Stohn, Hay, Cafazzo, Dembroski, Richmond
Paul Popeski

Marketing and distribution

Brad Horvath, Ouat Media
Liz Hover, Digital Media Specialist

Industry resources

Rhonda Baker, Production Manager
Nick Iannelli, Deluxe
Kirk Thompson, Front Row Insurance
Anne Marie Murphy, Eastern Script Inc.
Melissa Kajpust, NSI
Paul Suderman, DOP
Bob Lower, Editor
Chad Trembley, Editor
Richard Duffy, 1st A.D.
Roman Buchok, 1st A.D.
Taavo Soodor, Production Designer
John Gurdebeke, Editor
Norm Dugas, Sound Recordist
John Clarke, Best Boy
Shauna Townley, 1st Assistant Camera

Casting and work with actors

Lori Stefaniuk, Next! Casting
Rob Macklin, ACTRA
Charles Edwards, Actor
Scott Forbes, Actor
Kirsten Klueckmann, Actor
Nadine Pinette, Actor
Krystle Snow, Actor
Satara Sudebar, Actor
Ed Sutton, Actor
Abbey Thickson, Actor