Richard Agecoutay – Spirits of Summer (Toronto, ON)
Richard Agecoutay has a creative spirit and possesses a high visual storytelling IQ.
Over the last two decades, Richard has worked as a CBC videographer on the highest priority network programs. That work included many Olympic Games and Hockey Night in Canada. These gigs only go to individuals who possess outstanding visual abilities. Richard is a sought- after cinematographer.
Since 2018, Richard has worked as video producer in Toronto for CBLT. He conceptualizes a story, pitches it and delivers a polished product. In short, Richard is a (virtually) independent producer who provides content ready to air, on deadline. He is a gifted visual storyteller who – as an Indigenous person – has educated and elevated CBLT’s audience around Indigenous issues.
Richard studied Indigenous communication arts at the First Nations University of Canada. He also studied cinematography at the prestigious Banff School of Fine Arts where he received a professional certificate in electronic cinematography.
Richard’s work has been featured on such CBC flagship programs as The National, Marketplace, The Fifth Estate, Hockey Day in Canada, CBC News Network, Dragons’ Den, The Hour, regional and national elections, Rogers Cup, the NHL Stanley Cup finals, Road to the Olympic Games, Remembrance Day ceremonies, Canada Day celebrations, royal visits, four Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Richard’s career has been marked by professional honours including a 2005 Gemini nomination for Best Photography in a Documentary Program or Series, a 2005 Kodak Spectrum Award, four Columbus International Film Festival bronze statues, two Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association awards and numerous awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association.
Richard is excited to add producing skills to his toolkit by participating in the NSI Business for Producers program.
Jason Arsenault – Off The Wharf (Charlottetown, PEI)
Jason has produced and directed a number of films focusing on life on Canada’s east coast which have played at high-profile film festivals including Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.
He is an alumnus of the National Screen Institute’s Features First program, the first from Prince Edward Island. He’s also a recipient of the Harold Greenberg Fund’s Shorts-to-Features program for A Blessing From the Sea, the first from the Atlantic provinces. Jason produced and co-wrote the short film which had a broadcast run on HBO Canada.
Jason recently co-produced, directed and co-wrote Wharf Rats, a seven episode digital-comedy series financed through Telefilm’s Talent to Watch, the Independent Production Fund and The Bell Fund. The series stars Jonathan Torrens, Sue Kent and Annie Briggs.
He is currently a producer on A Small Fortune, a feature-length version of A Blessing From The Sea. The thriller stars Andrea Bang, Liane Balaban and Joel Thomas Hynes, and is a NFLD-PEI co-production supported by Telefilm, Super Channel, Innovation PEI, Newfoundland Film Development Corporation and the Harold Greenberg Fund.
A Small Fortune is in post-production and set for release in 2021.
Flore de Bayser – The Outsider (Waterloo, ON)
In 2018 Flore co-founded Velvet Icons Productions, a female-led production company whose mission is to further storytelling in the fast content world. A native of Paris and a true cinephile, she left a career in investment banking to pursue her ambitions in the film industry. Flore aspires to bring up character-driven films that will question the social status quo.
She is also the director of development at the European Union Film Festival in Toronto and the Canadian representative for the audiovisual film fund of the Wallonia region (Belgium), Wallimage.
Flore is extremely grateful to be part of the NSI Business for Producers program alongside other emerging producers. She is looking forward to delving more deeply into the process of developing stories and managing production in the new COVID-19 reality.
Ian Bawa – The Amazing Alan Cassavettes (Winnipeg, MB)
In 2007, Ian Bawa, a born and raised Winnipegger, switched paths from becoming a lawyer to pursue a career in filmmaking.
As a graduate of the University of Winnipeg film program, Ian’s bachelor film Offline (a co-production between the university and multiple German art universities) was met with great success and toured the world winning at festivals such as Yorkton Film Festival and Fargo Film Festival.
Ian began his film career interning in the lighting department at Film Training Manitoba and then working in every department a set (big and small) can offer. This allowed Ian to learn, appreciate and understand every aspect of filmmaking and become a Swiss Army Knife of skills and knowledge when producing on and off set.
Since then, Ian has produced, directed and worked on a number of features, short films, documentaries, music video and a variety of other projects.
His past work has won him many accolades and recognition locally and around the world and featured in publications such as Ain’t it Cool News and The AV Club. Ian’s film The Champ was selected as a Vimeo Staff Pick.
Ian’s film Imitations premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim, and toured globally playing at festivals such as Vancouver International Film Festival, Fantastic Fest and many others. Tapeworm premiered recently at this year’s 2019 Vancouver International Film Festival and 2020 SlamDance Film Festival.
His latest film Strong Son premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and Vancouver International Film Festival.
Hedyeh Bozorgzadeh – Brother, Man (West Vancouver, BC)
Hedy is an Iranian-Canadian filmmaker with strong interest in writing/producing socially-conscious stories that focus on voices from the margins.
She is an alumna of the film program at the University of British Columbia; winner of the Whistler Film Festival Power Pitch 2019; participant of the Whistler Film Festival Screenwriters Lab 2020; recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts Scriptwriting Grant and the National Film Board’s Filmmaker Assistance Program.
Hedyeh has completed producer trainee internships at the NFB and BC Film, and participated in Toronto’s LIFT Newcomer Filmmentor program. She served as the project coordinator on The Coloring Book: Digital Stories by Artists of Color, a community initiative at the NFB (Pacific/Yukon, nominated for Leo Awards in 2009). Brother, Man is her first feature film project.
Ervin Chartrand – Highway 45 (Selkirk, MB)
As a Métis child growing up in Winnipeg, experiencing a life of poverty, alcoholism and violence, and at 29 receiving a nine-year prison sentence for my involvement in organized crime. This proved to be a turning point in my life, leaving the old memories behind.
In January 2003, I decided to enroll myself in a broadcasting course. After graduating, I worked on the documentary series The Sharing Circle with Lisa Meeches and on various film sets, television studios and a year in the actor’s studio. However, I soon realized I wanted to create my own films and became a self-taught filmmaker in 2005.
After walking across Canada with a group called ‘Walk for Nations,’ in 2011 I decided to attend the University of Winnipeg – not an easy decision to make and I experienced considerable self-doubt. Being the first member of my family to earn a university degree has broadened my perspective and inspired me to learn and grow as a writer and director.
I am committed to making films and consciously draw from the influence of German Expressionism and European Art House Cinema. I want to continue to infuse my knowledge of film history, theory and philosophy into my work. I have made several short films and documentaries and feel that my work reflects my progress and potential as an artist.
Today, I’m developing my first feature screenplay titled Highway 45 and funded by Telefilm Canada.
I’m very fortunate to have worked with mentors in the film industry and learn from their skills throughout my career. I believe this is important for my growth as a writer/director and future producer. It has been difficult for me to balance the work of producing with my creative process. But I’ve overcome many obstacles in life, and I see these challenges as a continuum of my journey.
I genuinely want to contribute to the world through the art of film and be a member of an international film community. I hope others who have been marginalized in their lives will also be motivated to follow their dreams and passions.
A.J. Demers – Old Growth (Toronto, ON)
A.J. Demers is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. He’s an alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre’s Bell Media Prime Time TV Program, the National Screen Institute’s Feature First program and holds an MFA in creative writing with a focus on screenwriting from UBC. His credits include shows on CityTV, Discovery, Viceland and CBC.
A.J. has a passion for genre and his films and original series lean heavily on strong characters. He’s currently in development on two series: the crime/police drama Impossible and the black comedy/drama Underwhelmed.
In addition to writing and producing, A.J. has performed in well over 2,000 stage shows around the world and spent three years touring with the ABBA tribute band, Bjorn Again, where he rapped for Bill Gates.
Priyanka Desai – Fearless Inks of the Nisga’a Nation (Vancouver, BC)
Priyanka Desai is a content producer with over 10 years experience in documentaries, reality TV shows and doc series.
Starting as a journalist, she took on senior leadership positions as a story producer and executive producer in the fast-paced TV industry. Priyanka focused on stories about youth and womens’ issues which further sharpened her understanding of gender politics.
She creates award-winning shows that trigger immense audience response and spark uncomfortable conversations about gender. In response to a gruesome sexual assault case in India, she produced a debate show Because, It’s a Boy! which won the United Nations Population Fund Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity.
Born and raised in Mumbai, India, she moved to Canada in spring 2018. Her recent Canadian work includes award-winning docu-series Red Chef Revival among other scripted and unscripted projects.
In 2019 she was selected for the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) BC Production Mentorship Program. Having worked on productions across two continents, she has developed a meticulous understanding of diverse audiences. She is director of events and social media marketing at Community Tree, a Vancouver-based non-profit organization working for newcomers in Canada.
She is thrilled to be living and working in a country that is respectful of its multicultural identity. For every project she has worked on, Priyanka is known for her mindful approach towards social inclusiveness and diversity. She aims to produce stories that impact and entertain. As a South Asian woman, she constantly strives to challenge the culture of silence and gender disparity. A slogan she stands by is, “We are here to make great things.”
Alex Duong – Breaking Bread (Burnaby, BC)
Alex Duong started his film career as a professional stuntman and actor in 2010. Later, he became involved in many independent productions, both in front of and behind the camera. He learned everything from hands-on experience on set, working as a production assistant, camera operator, set decorator, wardrobe and stunt coordinator. That was nearly a decade ago, and he hasn’t looked back since. To date, he has had the opportunity to be in hit feature films like GI:Joe Snake Eyes, Skyscraper and Shazam.
In 2015, his interest in producing began to grow stronger. Currently, Alex is transitioning from stuntman to producer. As a strategic and creative problem solver, he possesses an innate ability to oversee and manage every aspect of filmmaking.
Andrea Feltrin – Natural Habitat (Vancouver, BC)
Andrea is a writer, director, actor and independent producer with degrees in film production, media business and production design.
In 2014, she co-founded Stratford-based film production company Eyecon Media. Since then, she’s produced nine short films, three micro documentaries, one web series, five comedy sketches and over 20 commercials.
Her most recent film Girl Band (2017) premiered as the opener for Matthew Atkinson’s feature film Room For Rent (2017). Her B-Movie inspired short film A Sprinkle in Time (2017) screened at the inaugural O.W.L. 48.5 Hour Film Challenge and received the Audience Choice Award. Her dark comedy Retreat (2016) screened in Toronto as part of the 48 Hour Film Project and received the Audience Choice Award. In 2019, Andrea was selected to attend the initial Writers Room program at Prime Time in Ottawa.
With a knack for performing and a weird addiction to making people laugh, Andrea has been involved with various improv troupes, theatre companies and stand-up comedy shows. She’s currently part of the development team at Vancouver-based production company Screen Siren Pictures and serves as event coordinator for the Vancouver Short Film Festival.
With a deep sense of character, comedy, and storytelling, Andrea enjoys creating thought-provoking content with humour and heart. She’s adamant and passionate about creating quality entertainment that’s Canadian to the core.
Kate Fenton – Filmores (Toronto, ON)
Kate Fenton is an actress, writer, director, producer and teacher.
In 2007, Kate co-founded the award-winning company The Quickening Theatre. She produced seven original productions and was supported by the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils.
In 2013, Kate joined The Journey – a large-scale musical production about the living history of the revitalization of Regent Park – as co-writer and director. The show has raised over $4M to date. The funds subsidize the arts programming at Daniels Spectrum, an artistic hub in the heart of Regent Park.
Kate’s short film Rainbow Baby won the 2020 Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee (TAWC) Short Film Creation Lab.
Kate is a member of the Women in Film & Television (WIFT). She was a participant of the WIFT Connect program under the mentorship of Susan Alexander and recently completed the WIFT Scripted Digital Series Incubator and IDM Fund: Futures.
Kate is the co-creator/co-writer/co-star of the original web series Band Ladies on Highball TV. Her new series Filmores, written in collaboration with Thirza Cuthand, Monica Mustelier and Adam Seybold, is currently in development.
Carmen Forsberg – #generation:ocean (Richmond, BC)
With a background in advertising and marketing Carmen has always been involved with high concept commercial productions, first as an assistant director and then as producer.
She has worked closely with Dolby Canada’s image and research technology department in the development of HDR software, organized and managed events for the Vancouver film industry and through her company Silverlight Entertainment developed and built one of South America’s most competitive 3D and VFX programs in association with Studio Arts, Los Angeles.
Carmen is an alumni of the University of Lima-Peru communication sciences department and the University of British Columbia film production program.
Stuart Matheson – True Hearted Punk (The Pas, MB)
Stuart Matheson, 22, is a filmmaker from The Pas, Manitoba.
Born in Prince George, British Columbia and raised across Western Canada, he has had the opportunity to encounter a wide array of people and cultures that drive his desire to create stories.
Interested in film at a young age, Stuart created the internet horror series Ashes To Ashes. He also took part in the NSI New Northern Voices program and was a producer on the short film Ni Mama (2020).
With a passion for producing, Stuart is looking forward to further developing his skills in the NSI Business for Producers program and hopes to produce in more projects in the future.
Jacob Pratt – Lands Wandered (Regina, SK)
Jacob Pratt is Dakota and Annishnabe from Cote First Nations in Saskatchewan. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the First Nations University of Canada.
He recently earned his masters of science in social entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California.
In 2016 he was awarded the National Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) for his first company Wambdi Dance. He uses his business education to further his artistic endeavours.
Jacob has built a career in the entertainment industry as a performer, actor and business professional. Recently he started Skoden Entertainment, a production company with a goal of bringing diversity to the entertainment industry through telling Indigenous stories from an Indigenous perspective. His company has already secured a major client and started producing unique content that will have a worldwide audience.
His career has developed from being in front of the camera to becoming a producer because he wants to tell stories he knows need to be told. His current goal is to continue developing and get a series on Disney+ and create a feature film.
Carla Robinson – Bully (Brantford, ON)
Carla Robinson is a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations.
As a screenwriter and producer Carla draws on her experience as a television broadcaster with CBC-TV, a print journalist and entrepreneur.
Carla is a consultant producer on adaptations based on her sister Eden Robinson’s books: The Trickster TV series seasons 1 and 2, and the feature film Monkey Beach.
In 2017 / 2018 she wrote and co-produced her first short The Guide through Sheridan College’s film program which screened at the American Indian Film Festival, LA Skins Film Festival, Hamilton Film Festival, and won best drama in Top Shorts, an online film festival.
Carla also earned an honours degree in mass communications from Carleton University and has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario.
Alex Sangha – Emergence – Out of the Shadows (Delta, BC)
Alex Sangha has a MSc in public administration and public policy from the department of government at London School of Economics, and a master of social work from Dalhousie University. He also has a bachelor of social work from the University of British Columbia with a first class standing. He is the founder of the Sher Vancouver LGBTQ Friends Society.
Alex’s first short documentary film, My Name Was January, won 14 international awards and 63 official selections at film festivals around the world. It was entered into the best short documentary category at the Canadian Screen Awards 2020 and was an official selection at the National Screen Institute’s Online Short Film Festival. The film was broadcast on OUTtv and made available on their streaming site OUTtvGo. The film was also picked up by Moving Images Distribution of Vancouver and Revry of Los Angeles.
Alex is currently working on his first feature film Emergence – Out of the Shadows.
Kulbinder Saran Caldwell – The Nightbird (Toronto, ON)
Kulbinder Saran Caldwell is the founder of REALLIFE Pictures Inc., an award-winning production company in Toronto. She is an agent for diverse writers and supports and encourages filmmakers to use their own unique POV in their storytelling and projects. She shares her business acumen with them to help build an audience for their film and TV projects and themselves. Kulbinder is an active member of the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA) and Producers Roundtable of Ontario (PRO).
Kulbinder worked on Brown Girl Begins as co-producer and Indiegogo campaign manager (over $40K raised on $30K goal) with filmmaker Sharon Lewis; Anarkali web series as co-producer with director Rakhi Mutta; as associate producer on Queen of the Morning Calm with writer/director Gloria Ui Young Kim and was a producer participant in NSI Features First with director/writer Muna Deria on the project Black Gold Muslimah.
Kulbinder recently optioned Canadian novel Can You Hear The Nightbird Call? by Anita Rau Badami which she intends to adapt into a limited series called The Nightbird and is excited to be developing as part of NSI’s inaugural Business for Producers program.
Kulbinder has mentored many diverse filmmakers over the years including those from the CineFAM Micro Cinema program, film and television students from Ryerson, Centennial and a social media program at Seneca.
As word spreads about the unique approach Kulbinder takes with her slate, there are more talented female filmmakers wanting to work with her on their passion projects.
Fonna Seidu – What Comes After (Toronto, ON)
Fonna Seidu is a producer with a slate of narrative projects that are diverse, commercially viable and have niche audiences. As a Black Queer producer, Fonna champions QTBIPOC teams and projects.
She entered the screen-based industry in 2018 and has since worked on over 25 commercials and films. Fonna’s first producing credit was on the multi-award winning short Promise Me directed by Alison Duke.
In 2019, she produced six short documentaries under the tutelage of Oya Media Group and with support from the Fabienne Colas Foundation. The series Being Black in Toronto will be broadcast as a one-hour CBC special.
Up next, Fonna will be supporting Lu Asfaha’s CBC-funded project Fresh Meat; developing virgins! the series with creator/showrunner Aden Abebe; co-producing Carolyn Wu’s short film Toe The Line which won Breakthrough’s Film Festival pitch contest; co-producing Kiley May’s romantic comedy short Disclosure supported by imagineNATIVE and Charles Street Video; and working alongside NSI alumni Lora Campbell and Daniel Beckerman on a queer comedy heist feature film called Let’s Do This.
Through her company, Snail Mail Media, Fonna is service-producing various shorts, features and web series funded by CBC, IPF, CMF and Telefilm.
Bram Timmer – Netherworld (Calgary, AB)
Bram Timmer is a creative director and producer with two decades in the digital and integrated brand experience space. As partner and creative director at the New York City-based consulting agency KMV, Bram directs and produces a wide range of creative and brand work for B2B/B2C.
Bram is also founder and executive director of the not-for-profit organization Council of Artists and Multimedia Professionals (CAMP) where he produces its annual festivals and productions focused on the storytelling of creative technology.
At Wild Forest he balances art and entertainment, developing and producing narrative experiences that fuel his lifelong interest and pursuit in the development of stories through creative form.
Jen Viens – Autonomic (Montreal, QC)
Jen is a queer Canadian filmmaker and actor originally from the west coast. She studied theatre at the University of British Columbia, and trained at the Actor’s Foundry and Straeon Acting Studios.
She began acting semi-professionally at 15 but her performing, producing and directing aspirations were cemented long before that. After writing and directing a dog food commercial starring her older brother at the tender age of five, she knew she was hooked.
Over the years performing and directing complemented one another, and have ranged from devised theatre, to staged readings, to film and TV. In an effort to continue to explore and create as an artist, Jen started self-producing many theatre and screen projects. Though producing was borne out of necessity, she discovered she was quite good at it and it soon became a third passion alongside directing and performing.
During her time on the west coast, Jen started a theatre production company. After several successful years, she pivoted the company to focus more on film and web, and moved into coaching actors one-on-one for stage and screen.
Battle Jar, one of the first web projects she undertook, received critical acclaim from the web series community and can be found on SparkkTV’s streaming platform.
Jen has now turned her sights towards larger budget projects with a more ambitious scope. She is focusing more intensely on writing original scripts for television and film and gaining more extensive experience as a producer and director.
Most recently, Jen directed the comedic web series Unicorn Included about a man and his unicorn roommate, which premiered in summer 2020 at the Seoul WebFest. As an unlikely underdog herself, Jen loves to tell stories about strong characters whose voices are underrepresented on screen and stage.
Seth Williams – Baiter (Canmore, AB)
Seth is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked as a producer and director for over five years.
As the founder of Alberta-based production company Flip City Films, he has extensive experience working in the music video, commercial, corporate video and short form narrative fields.
He’s known for his work with some of Calgary’s best known musicians such as Hyperia, Heyoka’s Mirror and InVertigo. As a director, his strong visual style juxtaposes darker subject matter with moments of elegance and beauty.
Seth possesses a rare eye for cinematic storytelling and understands the importance of story first. His positive approach to life, spirit of adventure and well-placed sense of mischief are easily recognizable in his work.