Creative, technical and business skills development to produce a short or feature film project.

Program status:

Past program offered by the National Screen Institute.


In 1984, filmmakers from coast to coast converged in Edmonton, and at the first Local Heroes Film Festival they showcased independent Canadian short films and features from around the world.

Those Canadian filmmakers wanted to strengthen the distinct regional voices across the country, and they discussed training strategies for filmmakers to tell their stories without having to move to Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.

The result of this first meeting was DramaLab, a hands-on professional development program for writers, directors and producers.

For the next two years, emerging professional filmmakers honed their creative, technical and business skills under direct guidance from industry experts, with the goal of producing 15-minute, 30-minute and feature length films.

One of the 1985 artistic directors was filmmaker Allan King who recognized that the Drama Lab program filled a void – at that time there were no filmmaking courses being offered in Canadian universities or technical schools.

The program would later evolve into NSI Drama Prize.



Geoff Bowie (Toronto, ON)

Don Duchene

T.H. Hatte

Maureen Hill (Dorval, PQ)

Clem Martini (Calgary, AB)

Rohan Persaud

Allan Schinkel (White Rock, BC)

Michael Sulyma (Edmonton, AB)

David Wellington


Marcel Beaulieu

Bernard Dansereau (St-Lambert, PQ)

Charlotte Harper (Halifax, NS)

Sharon McGowan (Vancouver, BC)

Annie O’Donoghue

Elise Swerhone (Winipeg, MB)

Jane Thompson (Toronto, ON)

Jan Zarzycki

(1984-85) Geoff Leboutillier (Nova Scotia)


Norma Bailey (Winnipeg, MB)

Peter Campbell

Wendy Hill-Tout (Calgary, AB)

Glen Morely