Program manager Elise Swerhone retires from the National Screen Institute


Rachel Young

Outreach and Engagement Lead

Elise Swerhone – program manager, alumna and dear friend of the National Screen Institute – has announced her retirement at the end of this month.

Elise has worked at the National Screen Institute for about a decade, managing programs like TELUS STORYHIVE, NSI Diverse TV Director, NSI Drama Prize and NSI Features First. She is most proud of her work on NSI IndigiDocs – a customized documentary training program she co-developed and managed.

“My passion is documentary film, so I was very proud of this program,” says Elise. “I’ve really enjoyed working with all the filmmakers and presenters – I’ve learned so much.”

Elise’s journey with the National Screen Institute began in 1986 in the DramaLab program where she trained as a director. She continued her career as a freelance filmmaker, and when the opportunity to join NSI as a program manager came up, she jumped at the chance.

“It’s a nice experience that an organization that trained me is still around and now I’m in a position to provide the expertise to train others.”

Elise takes pride in the National Screen Institute and the idea that film training is not all about the finished product – it’s also about the development of the filmmaker. She believes training must go beyond the fundamentals and focus on supporting and encouraging students as they develop their projects.

“It doesn’t matter how much you teach someone, if you don’t teach them to be confident and proud of what they’re doing, they won’t succeed. It’s that inner strength you have to nurture.”

As Elise closes this chapter of her career, she will treasure the memories she has with her fellow staff members and NSI family. The love and generosity extended to her over the past decade has brought so much joy to her career.

“I’ve always felt proud to be a part of this team. Everyone’s compassionate, knowledgeable, and thoughtful, and they really care about the students.”

Elise looks forward to spending time in her garden and working on her next documentary project, Gardening in the Heart, produced through Bell Fibe TV1. She hopes her work, and the work of the National Screen Institute, continues to impact Canadian creators for years to come.

“I wanted to give back in some way. I hope that 35 years from now the National Screen Institute is still training storytellers.”

Congratulations on your retirement, Elise! Your expertise and dedication to your craft has left an immeasurable impact on NSI. We wish you all the best as you take this next step in your life.

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