NSI IndigiDocs Apply

Application deadline

Applications are closed.

Questions

Email Kaya Wheeler or Elise Swerhone, or phone: (204) 956-7800 or (800) 952-9307.

Application fee

$100 non-refundable application fee. Payment is processed through PayPal.

Tuition

There are no tuition costs for this course.


New for this edition

There are exciting changes to the course this year.

Applicants no longer apply as a team. NSI IndigiDocs is now designed for individual filmmakers who have an idea for a 10-minute documentary film.

The course will be delivered in two phases.

  • Phase 1: students attend a 12-day boot camp in Winnipeg to learn about writing, producing and directing a documentary film, and develop a script for their documentary idea. At the end of phase 1 all students will have a market-ready film proposal.
  • Phase 2: a jury will choose up to four students from phase 1 to go into production and receive a cash award of up to $16K and approximately $10K of in-kind services. Phase 2 students also attend Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto.

COURSE GUIDELINES

What does NSI IndigiDocs offer?

NSI IndigiDocs is a two-phase course offering customized training for Indigenous filmmakers to develop a short documentary.

During phase 1, students will:

  • attend a 12-day boot camp from Februrary 3 to 14, 2020 (subject to change)
  • work with experienced documentary producers and directors
  • learn about concept development, research, writing and directing
  • learn about financing, banks, agencies, tax credits, production planning, cash flow, etc.
  • explore online marketing and find out how to build an audience for your film

At the end of phase 1, all students will have a market-ready film proposal.

Students then submit a revised script, budget and production schedule. A jury will decide which students continue to phase 2 to produce their short documentary.

During phase 2, up to four students will:

  • receive a cash award of up to $16K and approximately $10K of in-kind services to put towards the production costs of a short documentary
  • get firsthand experience of making a documentary film from development, to pitch, to production, to packaging and delivery
  • receive travel, accommodation and a pass to attend Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto
  • work with a mentor
  • receive post-production services from NFB
  • have your film shown as part of an exclusive one-hour special broadcast on APTN. Individual films appear on documentary Channel, nfb.ca, nsifilms.ca and aptnlumi.ca.

What is the course format?

Phase 1 – intensive 12-day training session (February 3 to 14, 2020)

Phase 1 is an intensive 12-day boot camp in Winnipeg from February 3 to 14, 2020 (subject to change). NSI covers air travel to Winnipeg and accommodation during boot camp. NSI does not cover the cost of food, ground travel or incidentals. Attendance at the 12-day training session is mandatory for all students.

Classes are held at the NSI Indigenous Training Centre, 400-141 Bannatyne Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba and generally run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break.

Boot camp starts with an Anishinaabe sharing circle and pipe ceremony followed by sessions with industry experts on story development, research, rights clearances, pitching, legal matters, budgeting, financing, and directing and producing a documentary.

At the end of phase 1, all students will have a market-ready film proposal.

Students then submit a revised script, budget and production schedule for their documentary. A jury will decide which students continue to phase 2 to produce their short documentary. To be considered for phase 2, students must demonstrate they have advanced creatively and understand how much their project will cost to produce; and how they can manage their budget and production realities.

Phase 2 – production & post-production (May 2020 to February 2021)

Up to four students will be selected to advance to phase 2.

Phase 2 focuses on producing your documentary with support from the NSI IndigiDocs advisors and a professional mentor. You will work from your own community during production and post-production.

Students sign contracts with NSI, APTN and documentary Channel and must also form a corporation before going into production and receiving funding. NSI will contribute $1,000 towards the cost of incorporation.

A cash award of up to $16K and approximately $10K of in-kind services are provided towards the production of your film in accordance with your NSI contract. The award must go towards the cost of producing your film and not towards payment for your services.

You must also be available to attend Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival for four days (April/May 2020) in Toronto. Air travel and accommodation are covered by NSI, and festival passes are provided.

Production of your film should take place from May 2020 to February 2021.

Your film must be completed by February 2021 to specifications outlined in your contract with NSI, APTN and documentary Channel. Final delivery of films must take place by March 31, 2021.

What do I have to commit to the course?

Phase 1 training takes place during the day (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and attendance is mandatory for the entire 12 days (February 3 to 14, 2020).

If you’re selected for phase 2, you must set aside considerable time to make your film. While NSI IndigiDocs is a one-year course, you will mostly work in your own community to produce your documentary. You must also attend Hot Docs in Toronto.

Who can apply? 

This course is aimed at individual filmmakers wishing to develop and produce a short documentary film. You are expected to take on the director and producer roles (training and mentorship will be provided).

Preference will be given to strong creative applicants who are passionate and invested in the creative development of their project and can demonstrate they have sufficient craft and technical experience to realistically be considered capable of producing a documentary film.

To be eligible you must:

  • have an idea and preliminary treatment for a 10-minute documentary
  • be an Indigenous person: someone who is First Nation (status and non-status), Métis or Inuit
  • have demonstrated experience in a director or producer role
  • ensure you have full access to your subject or subjects with a written document granting you life rights to their story (if applicable)
  • maintain creative and financial control over the project as well as technical ownership. This includes ownership of, or option on, all underlying rights (if any). NSI reserves the right to disqualify anyone that does not fully own the rights in and to the project
  • be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant aged 18 or over
  • not be a participant in any other training course that would conflict with your ability to commit to the NSI IndigiDocs course
  • have production or craft experience, or business affairs/legal experience, or marketing/distribution experience, or some combination of these
  • demonstrate technical competence and storytelling ability with past works

If you feel you would benefit from the course despite your experience level (lack of, or wealth of) please include a letter explaining why the selection committee should consider you for the course. This letter is in addition to the deliverable ‘letter of expectation.’

Can I apply with more than one proposal per year? Can I resubmit a proposal? 

Yes, provided you complete a separate application form along with an additional $100 non-refundable application fee.

You may apply twice with the same project within a three-year period.

Which projects are eligible?

  • Projects up to 10 minutes long. 
  • NSI will not accept any project that contains gratuitous violence, sexual violence or sexual exploitation.
  • Completed projects must abide by the broadcast requirements of APTN and documentary Channel.

How do I apply?

You must fill out all required sections of the application form (link at the end of this page) and include all documents listed below as one document (PDF, Word or Zip). Your application will be disqualified if any section is incomplete or missing.

A check list has been provided for your use on the application form.

  • Synopsis: a one paragraph summary of the overall project.
  • Treatment: a detailed description of the story; characters who will be interviewed and why; the focus you will take; and how you will support your story.
  • Director’s notes: details about stylistic approach, overall tone and shooting style.
  • Preliminary production plan: a plan for research, pre-production and production with dates and locations for each phase. Keep in mind film production must be completed by December 2020.
  • Preliminary marketing plan: a clear idea of the film’s target audience and your understanding of its market potential.
  • Proposed production budget: a preliminary production budget (download this template).
  • Proposed financing structure: your proposed sources of revenue for financing the project, including the cash award of up to $16K and approximately $10K of in-kind services (please see breakdown after this list).
  • Proof of access: please confirm that full access can be obtained to any individuals needed to tell the story.
  • Resume clearly stating production experience: include your role on the production and the following information about each project: the writer/producer/director; genre; if it was a student film; final running time; any broadcasts/theatrical release/festivals played; is it in development, production, post or completed?
  • Letter of expectation: a paragraph describing what you hope to gain by participating in the course.
  • Letter of reference: this letter should help identify why the person providing the reference feels you are ready to make a short documentary film.
  • Online link (YouTube or Vimeo) of support material, if available.
  • Additional letters (if applicable): required for applicants who need to demonstrate their suitability to participate in the course because they don’t meet eligibility criteria.
  • $100 non-refundable entry fee. Payment is processed through PayPal.

What are the in-kind services and how do I include them in my budget?

As well as up to $16K towards your film, phase 2 students also receive the following value-in-kind services:

  • Incorporation fees (max. $1,000)
  • Legal services ($1,000 value)
  • Full production insurance costs ($2,500 value)
  • Closed captioning costs ($250 value)
  • Post production costs for the online and mix (up to $7,500 value)

These are subject to change but you can include these amounts in your budget.

How are students selected?

For phase 1 (12-day boot camp), a jury of senior-level industry representatives will select students based on the strength of their creative ability and the audience appeal of their project. Preference will be given to strong creative applicants who are passionate and invested in the creative development of their project and can demonstrate they have sufficient craft and technical experience to realistically be considered capable of producing a documentary film. Both the project and filmmaker must be suitable for the course. The jury will select up to eight students for phase 1.

For phase 2 (production and mentoring), a jury will again decide which students continue on to the production of their short documentary. Students must demonstrate they have advanced creatively and understand how much their project will cost to produce; and how they can manage their budget and production realities.

When will I know if I have been selected?

Final selection of students for phase 1 will be complete by December 14, 2019.

Students selected for phase 2 will be notified in late March, 2020.

Who is the Indigenous training programs advisor?

Lisa Meeches

Lisa Meeches is one of the most dynamic and respected producers in the film and television industry, and a proud Ojibway from Long Plain First Nation.

Lisa has produced numerous projects to critical acclaim and more than 180 hours of film and television content including The Sharing Circle, Ice Road Truckers, Tipi Tales, double Canadian Screen Award-winner Jack, Gemini award-winner Elijah, and double CSA winner We Were Children which is widely praised by residential school survivors for its power to heal, while general audiences have been moved by its accurate and truthful portrayal of the impacts of Canada’s colonial past.

As host of her shows The Sharing Circle and Taken, Lisa is a recognizable presence across Canada. In addition to hosting Taken, which was recently nominated for two CSAs and is currently in production on its fourth season, Lisa is also co-creator, executive producer and an episode director. She is also currently co-executive producer of the international hit series Burden of Truth (CBC, CW, Hulu, Universal UK).

Lisa has been the recipient of many local, regional and national awards for her exemplary contributions in culture, media and entrepreneurship. Among her numerous awards and nominations are the 2007 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Media & Communication, 2009 YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction Award in the area of Creative Communications, 2009 University of Manitoba’s Excellence in Aboriginal Business Leadership Award and Women in Film and Television 2009 Crystal Award for Mentorship. In 2017 Lisa was made a Member of the Order of Manitoba.

Lisa devotes considerable time to other causes and has been critical to the success of the Manito Ahbee Festival as its executive director. Lisa also sits on the national board of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. True to her heritage, Lisa practices the customs of her faith and is a renowned champion fancy shawl dancer.

Lisa is also an alumna of NSI.

Who are the NSI IndigiDocs program managers?

Elise Swerhone

As manager of programs and development, Elise is program manager for NSI IndigiDocs. 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, HGTV, Vision, National Geographic and Discovery US.

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

Kaya Wheeler

As manager of programs and development, Kaya works across many of NSI’s courses and helps run the day-to-day activities of CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI IndigiDocs and NSI New Northern Voices.

Kaya graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a bachelor of arts in Indigenous Studies, and has been working within the Indigenous community in Winnipeg for more than 10 years. She has spent a large portion of this time working with Indigenous youth in many areas, including acting and storytelling for theatre. She has had experience both volunteering and working on film sets, and even had a small stint on the stage and in front of the camera.

Kaya is excited to be in a role that helps hone and amplify new and existing voices in the industry.

Who is the NSI IndigiDocs director advisor?

Shane Belcourt

Shane Belcourt is an award-winning and two-time CSA-nominated filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada.

As a writer and director on many Indigenous works, in both narrative and factual, Shane has a vested interested in creating works that speak to his Métis heritage. Notable work includes the feature film Tkaronto; shorts such as A Common Experience, Keeping Quiet and Pookums; the dance-documentary Kaha:wi – The Cycle of Life (2015 CSA Best Direction Nomination); and two Historica Canada Minutes Chanie Wenjack and Naskumituwin (Treaty).

Recent works include the award-winning 2018 CBC Firsthand documentary Indictment (co-directed with Lisa Jackson; 2017 imagineNATIVE Best Documentary), the music documentary series AMLIFY for APTN (series creator, executive producer and show-runner), and the dramatic feature Red Rover (co-writer, director). He is an alumna of the TIFF Talent Lab and NSI’s Totally Television programs.

Who is the NSI IndigiDocs producer advisor?

Michelle St. John

Michelle St. John is a two-time Gemini Award winning actor, writer, singer, producer and director.

As an actor, Michelle has appeared in Where the Spirit Lives, Smoke Signals, E.N.G. Disney’s Pocahontas, Northern Exposure and many more. Michelle was a co-founder of Turtle Gals Performance Ensemble, a Native women’s theatre company based in Toronto. For 10 years she and colleagues, Monique Mojica and Jani Lauzon, created, produced and toured their original works, The Scrubbing Project, The Triple Truth and The Only Good Indian … across Turtle Island.

Michelle also created, produced and hosted Redtales, a weekly Indigenous literature show on Aboriginal Voices Radio. As co-artistic director of Red Diva, she has collaborated with playwright/director Marie Clements on several theatre, film and music productions including the The Edward Curtis Project, Tombs of the Vanishing Indian and acclaimed live productions of The Road Forward along with short films Jesus Indian and Prison Chronicles.

Michelle frequently works with director Shane Belcourt – producing the short film, Apikiwiak, the documentary series Urban Native Girl and Heritage Minutes Naskumituwin and Chanie Wenjack. Their new documentary series Amplify will premiere in 2020 on APTN with Michelle as the producer and director of two episodes.

Michelle also co-produced Shane’s most recent feature film Red Rover which is currently touring film festivals internationally. Her first documentary, Colonization Road has screened the world over and garnered a Golden Sheaf Award from Yorkton Film Festival and a Canadian Screen Award nomination for the Donald Brittain Award – Best Social/Political Documentary.

What are the exact dates of the course?

Phase 1 – boot camp in Winnipeg from February 3 to 14, 2020.

Phase 2 – Hot Docs in April/May, 2020 (four days); production & post-production (May 2020 to February 2021); delivery of film (March 2021)

What rights does NSI have on the project? 

Subject to the rights to be licensed to APTN and documentary Channel, the selected filmmakers shall retain copyright in the documentaries developed and produced as part of the course.

NSI and NSI IndigiDocs investors require a head and/or tail credit on all copies of the film as well as a prominent credit on all publicity and promotional materials developed with respect to the project.

A contract will be signed with each student outlining the commitments and responsibilities of the filmmaker and NSI under the course.

For phase 2, a broadcast agreement will be signed with APTN and documentary Channel.

What financial assistance will I receive?

Phase 1

  • Travel and accommodation to attend boot camp in Winnipeg

You are responsible for covering the costs of food and ground transportation. NSI does not cover these costs.

Phase 2

  • Up to $16K for production expenses

Value-in-kind services (subject to change) including:

  • Incorporation fees (max. $1,000)
  • Legal services ($1,000 value)
  • Full production insurance costs ($2,500 value)
  • Closed captioning costs ($250 value)
  • Post production costs for the online and mix (up to $7,500 value)
  • Registration, return flights to and from Toronto and accommodation at Hot Docs

Phase 2 students are responsible for covering the costs of food and ground transportation while at Hot Docs.

What is the relationship between NSI and the successful applicant? 

The relationship between the applicant and NSI shall not be deemed to constitute a partnership or joint venture. The applicant shall not have the right to incur any debts nor make any commitment of or on behalf of NSI. 

Can I submit my application by fax or email?

No. All applications must be provided using the online form.  

I have more questions. Who do I contact? 

Email Kaya Wheeler or Elise Swerhone, or phone: (204) 956-7800 or (800) 952-9307.

• • •

NSI IndigiDocs is funded by Program Partners APTN, Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and RBC Emerging Artists Project; Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Boot Camp Presenting Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Strategic Sponsor documentary Channel; Supporting Sponsors Telefilm Canada, Super Channel, CBC Gem and Corus Entertainment; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Partner the National Film Board of Canada; Industry Supporters imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Service Sponsor Line 21 Media. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council. More sponsors to be added as confirmed.