Series Incubator

Fast track the development of your scripted series and career with customized hands-on training and mentorship.

Program status:

Applications closed


NSI Series Incubator is a 12-month, four-phase, in-depth training program for producer / writer teams from underrepresented communities to meaningfully develop a scripted series with support and guidance from experienced industry professionals. A director is brought in for phase three.

The program culminates in the creation of a series proof-of-concept (trailer, teaser, scene, short film, web series episode, etc.). Participants receive up to $28K in cash and in-kind support.

Participants are divided into producer and writer streams and engage in workshops, presentations, masterclasses and hands-on learning with the support of targeted, one-on-one mentorship.

This training will empower participants to learn the steps of how a series makes it from pitch to production. Teams will learn the system and their role in it.

At the end of the program, you will have a completed series proof-of-concept, with the knowledge and tools for you to tell your story, your way.

At a glance

  • Applications open: May 29, 2023
  • Q & A webinar: June 15, 11 a.m. CT. Register now.
  • Applications close: July 17, 2023 at 5 p.m., CT
  • Selected participants notified: August 18, 2023
  • All other applicants notified: August 21, 2023
  • Phase 1 training: September 11 to 15, 2023
  • Phase 2 training: November 6 to 10, 2023
  • Phase 3 writer training: January 15 to 19, 2024
  • Phase 3 producer training: January 22 to 26, 2024
  • Phase 3 director training: January 29 to February 2, 2024
  • Phase 4 prep, production and post: February to August 2024

Key information

Program dates
September 2023 to August 2024
Part-time, in-person in Winnipeg and online
$100 non-refundable application fee per project; $500 tuition per participant, due upon selection.

This training is for you if you:

  • Identify with one of the following underrepresented communities: Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+), people with disabilities, those outside large urban centres (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal), regional and remote areas and various religious groups
  • Have an idea and preliminary treatment for a series
  • Possess the rights to the idea
  • Have some demonstrated experience as a writer or producer
  • (Producers) have production or craft experience, or business affairs / legal experience, or marketing / distribution experience, or some combination of these
  • (Writers) can demonstrate storytelling ability with past works (ie: short film, short story, journalism or another creative writing endeavour)
  • Can commit the necessary time to complete the training and deliver your project by the deadline

To be eligible you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident living in Canada, aged 18 or over
  • Identify with one of the following underrepresented communities: Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+), people with disabilities, those outside large urban centres (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal), regional and remote areas and various religious groups
  • 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). The National Screen Institute reserves the right to disqualify anyone that does not fully own the rights in and to the project
  • Not be a participant in any other training program that would conflict with your ability to commit to the NSI Series Incubator program

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

This program is aimed at writer / producer teams who wish to develop a fictional series and produce a series proof-of-concept (trailer, teaser, scene, short film, web series episode, etc.).

Program phases

Phase 1

Attendance at all online training sessions is mandatory.

One-week, full time in person training in Winnipeg for writers and producers (September 11 to 15, 2023)

Seven weeks of homework to be completed before phase 2 (September 18 to November 3, 2023)

Writers will learn from experienced producers and writers about:

  • Working with producers
  • Pitching, selling yourself and your projects
  • One-on-one mentorship from an experienced writer

At the end of this phase, writers will have completed a series bible, episode outlines and start work on a pilot episode.

Producers will learn from experienced producers, writers, legal and business affairs experts about:

  • Working with writers
  • The creative process, development, pitching, financing, clearances, negotiating, human resources for producers, business and legal affairs

Phase 2

Attendance at all online training sessions is mandatory.

One-week online training for writers and producers (November 6 to 10, 2023)

Eight weeks of homework (November 13, 2023 to January 12, 2024)

Writers will:

  • Participate in a writers’ room simulation focused on the development of your project and other projects
  • Continue your mentorship as you work on and complete a second draft of a pilot episode

At the end of this phase, writers will have completed a second draft of their pilot episode.

Producers will:

  • Learn about prep, production and post-production, budgeting, marketing, distribution and insurance
  • Learn about the role of look books in pitching
  • Secure a director for phase 3
  • Receive a $1,500 support stipend for professional development where needed

Each writer / producer team will work together to conceive a proof-of-concept for their series.

Classes will be held online from November 13 to 17, 2023 including approximately 30 hours of training and assigned homework to be completed outside the scheduled sessions.

Directors brought on to the project will receive a week of in-person training in Winnipeg in phase 3.

Phase 3

Attendance at all online training sessions is mandatory.

Writers online training (January 15 to 19, 2024)

Writers will:

  • Finalize your proof-of-concept script
  • Attend a pilot table read of your project

Producers online training (January 22 to 26, 2024)

Producers will: 

  • Participate in a pitching simulation
  • Learn how to work with composers and editors, and the role of an assistant director
  • Learn about production paperwork
  • Develop a production plan and budget for your proof-of-concept film

At the end of phase 3, teams will have a final draft of their proof-of-concept completed and a shooting plan.

Directors in-person training in Winnipeg (January 29 to February 2, 2024) 

Directors will:

  • Learn about working with actors and various departments
  • Learn how to prep a scene
  • Complete training for blocking a scene

Phase 4

Prep, production and post-production of a proof-of-concept film (February to August 2024)

All four teams will advance to phase 4.

Under the guidance of faculty advisors you will complete prep, production and post-production of your proof-of-concept.

A cash award and in-kind services will be provided towards the production of each proof-of-concept. The award must go towards the cost of production and not towards payment for the team’s services.

The program concludes with a finished proof-of-concept ready for future funding applications (i.e. Bell Fund Short Form Digital Series), series bible and final pilot script.

Producers will take part in an in-person pitching event and project screening.

Frequently asked questions

Meet the faculty


Jeff Peeler

Program Advisor

Jeff Peeler is a producer and executive producer with experience across a variety of television, film and digital projects in multiple genres for numerous respected entertainment brands.

Anthony-Q.-Farrell - a person in a green shirt wearing glasses

Anthony Q. Farrell

Writer Facilitator

Anthony Q. Farrell has served as showrunner for Overlord and The Underwoods, The Parker Andersons and Amelia Parker, and the BAFTA-winning CBBC series Secret Life of Boys.

Ins-Choi - a person with a moustache

Ins Choi

Writer Facilitator

Ins Choi was born in Korea but grew up and currently lives in Toronto with his wife and two children. He graduated from the acting program at York University.

Woman with long hair - Karen Walton

Karen Walton

Writer Facilitator

The unlikely career of Canadian film and television Karen Walton (WGC, WGA-W Emerita) began with her winning entry in a local public radio writing contest in 1992.

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein

Producer Facilitator

Josh Epstein’s work as a writer, producer and actor has taken him to all corners of the world.

Person in glasses - Winnifred-Jong

Winnifred Jong

Director Facilitator

Winnifred Jong is an award-winning Toronto-based filmmaker. Known for her cinematic style and authentic storytelling, Winnifred is adept at directing drama, comedy and action.


Jessica Gibson

Manager of Programs & Development

Jessica has built a successful career as a film and television producer and production manager since transitioning from her role in front of the camera as an actor to behind the scenes over 10 years ago.

Meet the students

Aaron Merke - person

Aaron Merke

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Aaron Merke is a gifted storyteller whose journey winds from the world of improv comedy in Chicago to the stages of Second City Toronto and the screens of Much Music’s Video on Trial.

Bill Taylor - close-up black and white photo of a person

Bill Taylor

Toronto, Ontario

Bill is an acclaimed filmmaker with a 20-year background in film and television.

Dawn Bird - person

Dawn Bird

Regina, Saskatchewan

Dawn Bird is an actor, voice talent, writer and producer for television, film and digital entertainment.

Kulbinder Saran Caldwell - person

Kulbinder Saran Caldwell

Toronto, Ontario

Kulbinder Saran Caldwell is a creative entrepreneur and global storyteller.

Lauren Cochrane - person

Lauren Cochrane

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Lauren is an honours graduate from the comedy writing and performance program at Humber College in Toronto.

Moniquea Marion

Moniquea Marion

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Moniquea Marion is a Saskatchewan-based Métis writer, comedian and producer.

Ryan Moccasin - person

Ryan Moccasin

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Ryan Moccasin is a distinguished author, satirist and comedian from Saskatoon.

Scott Jones

Scott Jones

Scotsburn, Nova Scotia

Scott Jones is a queer, disabled filmmaker, playwright and music educator from Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia).



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Program Partners

Telefilm Canada Indigenous Screen Office MFM manitoba-government Warner Bros. Discovery Access Canada Bell Fund A&E Creative BC Multicoloured circle and text - Creative-Saskatchewan logo SMPIA Logo company3 isplice-films IATSE-856 final-draft Red Coverfly logo entertainment-partners line21 Winnipeg Arts Council
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