NSI Totally Television Apply

Bringing Canadian screen professionals to the global market

Presented in association with Bell Media

Application deadline

Applications are closed.


Email program manager Liz Janzen at liz.janzen@nsi-canada.ca

Application fee

$100 non-refundable submission fee per application with the option to receive a feedback report for an additional $100. Payment is processed through PayPal.


  • Phase 1: $2,000 non-refundable tuition fee per team member (due one week after acceptance).
  • Phase 2: $1,000 non-refundable tuition fee per team member (due only if your project advances to phase 2).

Timeline at a glance

  • Phase 1 boot camp: February 2020
  • Phase 1 homework assignment due: May 2020
  • Phase 2 teams chosen: June 2020
  • Phase 2 training: September 2020, exact dates to be chosen with final teams
  • Market prep: October and November 2020
  • Market attendance: Content London in December 2020


What does NSI Totally Television offer?

This highly effective 12-month course provides customized, hands-on training for Canadian producer/writer teams to develop story ideas into polished packages to present to buyers in the global marketplace.

During the course you will:

  • hear the latest updates in market intelligence from distributors, producers and broadcasters and confirm where your series best fits in the marketplace
  • have in-depth sessions with industry consultants who will work with you to improve, perfect and refine your series concept (see our list of mentors and associate faculty from the course last year)
  • work with an executive story editor to polish your script
  • hear firsthand how a series comes together from development to pitch to production to broadcast
  • practice the fine art of conversational pitching
  • pitch your series concept to your target development executives
  • sit down with a business affairs expert to hear how development deals can be negotiated
  • develop an audience engagement plan which identifies your target audience and outlines strategies to attract and build your audience
  • attend Content London in December 2020 for an opportunity to connect with industry development professionals both domestic and international
  • spend a day inside Bell Media’s programming office

What is the course format?

NSI Totally Television is a distance learning course with two in-person boot camp intensives.

Phase 1 – intensive seven-day training session, Toronto, February 2020

Phase 1 training focuses on story analysis, pitching and marketability from the distributor, producer and broadcaster perspectives.

Teams are provided with one-on-one story editing consultation and coaching from a pitching expert.

Teams return home after phase 1 to further the development of their concept and work to incorporate story notes and feedback received during training.

To be considered for phase 2, teams must submit (including but not limited to) an updated script, possible executive producer mentor and story editor choices and a summary of creative changes.

Up to two teams will advance to phase 2. The decision will be based on the following:

  • Has the project advanced creatively?
  • Does the team show an understanding of where the project fits in the marketplace?
  • Does the team show readiness to land a development deal?

Phase 2 – intensive three-day training session, Toronto (September 2020) & Content London (December 2020)

Phase 2 focuses on the specific needs of your project and includes a three-day training session in Toronto in fall 2020, attendance at Content London in December 2020 and pitching your series concept to your targeted development executives. Exact phase 2 training dates to be determined in consultation with phase 2 teams.

What do I have to do to commit to the course?

You must make considerable time available for the course. While project and professional development plans will be created with maximum flexibility, all training sessions take place during the day.

Attendance at the February 2020 training session in Toronto is mandatory for all phase 1 participants. Attendance at the phase 2 training week in fall 2020 and Content London in December 2020 is mandatory for all phase 2 participants.

Who can apply?

The course is aimed at two-person producer/writer teams wishing to further develop a television series concept. Preference will be given to strong creative teams who are equally passionate and invested in the creative development of the concept.

Previous NSI Totally Television students cannot re-apply for the same position (if you participated as the producer you can re-apply as the writer but NOT as the producer).

You may submit more than one application but you must complete a separate application form along with an additional application fee.

NSI Totally Television is first and foremost a training course, and preference will be given to applicants we feel will benefit most from the training. 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.

In order to be eligible applicants must:

  • have a minimum of three year’s experience in production, business affairs, legal, marketing, distribution or development, or a combination of these. Writers are exempt from this
  • have produced a minimum of one 30-minute film or other multimedia project (or a number of projects with a cumulative running time of 30 minutes). The project(s) need not have been broadcast. You must identify which project(s) are student project(s). Writers are exempt from this
  • writers must have a minimum of one previous writing credit (ie: short film, short story, journalism or another creative writing endeavour) OR a post-secondary writing diploma or degree
  • demonstrate you are a strong writer/producer team. Your project will be ineligible if any of the team members identified on the application form change at any point after selection
  • maintain creative and financial control over the project. This includes ownership of, or option on, all underlying rights (if any). NSI reserves the right to disqualify any team that does not fully own the rights in and to the project
  • not be a participant in any other training course that would conflict with your ability to commit to NSI Totally Television
  • be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant and be aged 18 or over

Can I apply alone or as a three person team?

No. We only accept applications from two person writer/producer teams.

Co-producers and co-writers are not eligible for participation in the course. The producer and writer participants are expected to share the information and knowledge gained from the course with their co-producer/co-writer.

Can I apply with more than one proposal per year? Can I re-submit a proposal?

Yes, provided you complete a separate application form along with the additional application fee.

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

What projects are eligible?

  • Adaptations with existing IP and new concepts in the genres of drama, comedy and sci-fi are eligible. Adaptations can include story concepts and characters from novels, plays, web series and podcasts provided you have the necessary rights.
  • Projects can be half-hour or hour-long, limited (six to eight episodes) or multi-season series aimed at prime time television suitable for broadcast television. Documentary, docu-drama, lifestyle, reality, children’s and animation projects are not eligible.
  • Projects must be scripted, have a story arc, character development and sustainable plot lines for multiple episodes and seasons.
  • Theme and subject matter are up to you. NSI will not accept any project that contains excessive violence, sexual violence or sexual exploitation.

Can inter-provincial teams apply?

Yes but teams must demonstrate how they will overcome physical distance barriers as they proceed with their final stage of development and production planning.

What do I need to apply?

Only complete applications will be considered. This means you must fill out all required sections of the application form and must include all the documents listed below as one PDF or Zip file.

Your application will be disqualified if any of the sections are incomplete or missing. A check list has been provided for your use on the application form.

  • Series synopsis: a brief summary of the series giving a general overview of the premise. Usually a paragraph or less.
  • Series bible: a written guide for your series describing the central premise, story and characters, the setting, genre and continuing elements. It may include detailed characterizations and describe the interplay among the lead and recurring characters. Character and story arcs, storyline and dialogue examples may also be included.
  • Series pilot or episode script(s).
  • Minimum six episodic outlines (if not included in bible): episode outlines should be about a paragraph to half a page each; if there are exciting moments in the plot, make them exciting in the outline; if there are moments of humour, include a joke or two. You might even include an example or two of dialogue as long as it doesn’t interrupt the flow.
  • Genesis of the idea: tell us where the idea for your series concept came from. What was the inspiration?
  • Financing plan.
  • Complete chain of title documentation: refers to the underlying rights for your story. Projects with existing IP must provide proof-of-rights documents. You need to provide documentation that demonstrates your right to develop the project whether it is a story idea of your own creation or an adaptation. See an example.
  • A paragraph (or two) explaining why you believe your project is relevant in today’s TV landscape. How does your project fit into what’s already in the market? Why this project, why now and why are you the ones to tell it?
  • Resume of each applicant 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 and/or theatrical release; is it in development, production, post or completed.
  • Letter of expectation from each team member: a paragraph from each team member describing what you hope to gain by participating in the NSI Totally Television course.
  • Letter of reference for each team member: this should be from someone you look to as a mentor in the industry, someone who can speak to your readiness to participate in this course.
  • Description of the formal relationship between team members: outline ownership and decision-making control between yourselves. Have you incorporated a company? How long have you known each other?  Have you worked together before? How confident are you that you can work together on this project?
  • Additional letters (if applicable): required for applicants needing to demonstrate their suitability to participate in the course because they don’t meet eligibility criteria or may be perceived as too experienced for the course.
  • $100 non-refundable entry fee: each team must submit a $100 application fee. Plus an additional $100 if you would like NSI to provide a feedback report on your application. Payment is processed through PayPal.

How will teams be selected?

Projects will be selected based on their creative and commercial potential. Both the project and team members must be suitable for the course (it is possible to have a good project but a team which is not yet ready to produce a series, or a great team with the wrong project).

  • All applications will be assessed for eligibility and completeness. Incomplete applications will be rejected.
  • A jury of industry representatives and NSI Totally Television staff will read the applications and create a shortlist.
  • Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed via video conference.
  • After the interview, jury members will select up to four teams based upon the strength of the concept, marketability and team members.

When will I know if I’ve been selected?

Shortlisted applicants will be notified via email. Final selection of teams will be complete by the end of November 2019.

Tuition payment and a signed NSI agreement are required one week following notification of acceptance into the course.

If you are not selected, you will be notified by email. We will do our best to notify everyone by November 2019.

Who is the NSI Totally Television advisor?

Julie Di Cresce

Julie Di Cresce has worked in broadcasting and production for over a decade as a broadcast executive and producer. She is passionate about storytelling and talent development and has cultivated strong creative and market instincts.

Julie got her start working on the suite of Corus Kids channels before moving over to the Documentary Channel. From there she became director of original programming for Canada’s two pay services consecutively, starting with HBO Canada/Movie Central followed by Super Channel. During that time she managed a robust slate of series, features and documentaries in development and was production executive on all series greenlit into production, including titles such as Slasher (Netflix), Versailles (Canal +), Rogue (DirecTV) and Pillars of the Earth (Starz).

Julie has been active as a consultant for a variety of Canadian production companies since 2014, including Skybound Galactic/WindSunSky, Sienna Films, Banger Films and Chelser/Perlmutter. At First Generation Films she spearheaded their push into television, setting up numerous series in development including Jeff Lemire’s seminal graphic novel Essex County and Kate Beaton’s award-winning children’s book Princess and the Pony, currently in production with CBC/Dreamworks.

She holds an MPhil from the University of Kent at Canterbury, an MA in film from York University and a cinema specialist from the University of Toronto.

Who is the NSI Totally Television manager?

Liz Janzen

Liz returns to NSI as program manager of NSI Totally Television.

Previously she was NSI’s director of programming, development manager for CTV, programmer at Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting, manager of acquisitions at WTN (now W Network) and programming coordinator for the Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival.

Liz is also a screenwriter. She has a MA in English with a concentration in film from the University of Manitoba and a BA (Hons) in English from the University of Saskatchewan.

Liz considers coffee a vital food group, is passionate about her dogs and loves to garden.

What are the exact course dates?

NSI Totally Television is a 12-month training course.

Story editors will read your material and selected teams will be given an assignment before the phase 1 training session in Toronto in February 2020.

Each team will be given a homework assignment to be completed and delivered by May 2020.

Phase 2 teams will be selected in June 2020.

Teams who successfully move on to phase 2 will attend a training session in September 2020.

Both training sessions take place in Toronto. Exact dates will be determined once the phase 2 teams are chosen. Content London takes place in December 2020. Attendance at the training sessions and Content London are mandatory.

What rights does the National Screen Institute have on the project?

All copyright in the project remains with the applicants. NSI reserves the sole right to disqualify any team that does not fully own the rights in and to the project.

NSI and its sponsors will retain the right to exhibit and/or stream (non-commercially) excerpts of completed productions for promotional purposes and will use best efforts to notify the producer of any such screening prior to its occurrence. NSI requires a tail credit on all produced episodes as well as a credit on all publicity and promotional materials developed with respect to the project.

Immediately upon acceptance into the course, a contract will be signed with each team outlining the commitments and responsibilities of the team and NSI.

Should you be selected to participate, you will be asked to continue the spirit of giving back. As a not-for-profit, charitable organization, we continually seek funding for our programs and request that all alumni contribute to our work to support new generations of emerging content creators.

All alumni are asked to make a donation to the NSI Annual Fund.

Your ability to give back helps us design and deliver programs that change the world for storytellers and audiences. In addition to contributing to the NSI Annual Fund, if your project goes into production, alumni are asked to recognize NSI with the credit: Developed through NSI Totally Television.

What financial assistance will I receive?

Phase 1 and 2 teams who live outside Toronto will have their airfare and accommodation covered while they are in Toronto for the training session. Meals and transportation to and from the airport and within the city are the responsibility of team members. NSI will also pay Content London registration fees for phase 2 teams.

What is the relationship between the National Screen Institute 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 to make any commitment of or on behalf of NSI.

Does NSI provide feedback on my application package?

Yes. Appreciating a lot of work goes into completing your application, and our role as a professional development training organization, we are pleased to provide feedback. However, we are a not-for-profit organization and must cover the costs of this work.

If you would like to receive feedback, you must check the box on the application form. A feedback report will be sent to you along with notification of your application’s status. Should you choose to pay for feedback, and you’re accepted into the program, NSI will deduct $100 from your phase 1 tuition fee.

Can I submit my application by fax or email?

No. All applications must be provided using the online form by the September 27 deadline.

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NSI Totally Television is made possible by Presenting Sponsor Bell Media; Program Partner Telefilm Canada; and Supporting Sponsors Super Channel, Corus Entertainment and CBC Gem. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council