Win a pass to the 2018 Toronto Screenwriting Conference

Update: Congratulations to Marsha Mason, who won a free pass to this year’s Toronto Screenwriting Conference. Thanks to everyone who submitted their story.


 

Want access to veterans of the screenwriting industry who can give you the education and skills development to further your career in writing, producing and directing? The Toronto Screenwriting Conference is for you.

The two-day weekend event—on June 23 and 24—brings together expert creative talent, authors and speakers specializing in the craft of writing.

Among the highlights is a Writing Room Intensive with Degrassi: Next Class and Holly Hobbie showrunner Sarah Glinski, where participants will work together in a mock writing room to break a pilot for a Dawson’s Creek reboot. Also on tap: speakers like David Shore (House, The Good Doctor), Chip Johannessen (Homeland), Stacy Rukeyser (Unreal), Ben Watkins (Hand of God) and Corey Mandell.

New this year is The Foundation Series: Where New Stories Begin with two sessions in Brain, Biography and Crime with Dr. William Watson, and Understanding Fraudsters and the Coppers that Chase Them with Mike Akpata.

TV, eh? is proud to be the exclusive media sponsors for this year’s Toronto Screenwriting Conference, but we’re even more excited to offer our readers the chance to win one complimentary pass to the weekend!

Simply comment below telling us which Canadian TV show, past or present, has inspired you to write for Canadian TV or film and we’ll select one winner at random to attend this month’s event. The contest closes Friday, June 15, at noon PT/3 p.m. ET.

More information can be found at the TSC website.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and owner of TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from hundreds of television series from Canada, the U.S. and internationally. He is a podcaster, public speaker, weekly radio guest and educator, and past member of the Television Critics Association.
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84 thoughts on “Win a pass to the 2018 Toronto Screenwriting Conference”

  1. Kim’s Convenience is the first show in a long time that has compelled me to watch every single episode, and has definitely inspired me to write for Canadian actors and audiences (film so far, but I’d love to write for TV as well!). As excellent as the acting is, the writing is what makes KC stand out for me: there’s so much subtle humour and cultural insight, and I also love how universal its themes and conflicts are. Super-glad we’ll be getting at least two more seasons =)

  2. Orphan Black is the one that comes to mind to show me how bold of a vision you need to stand out among the best in the world, not just Canada.

  3. Like most Canadians I grew up on Canadian TV, I graduated from Mr. Dressup to the Beachcombers and King of Kensington, to the great TV Of today like Motive, 19-2, X-Company, and Frankie Drake.

    If I had to pick overall inspiration for what started the writing obsession it would be Degrassi. It inspired me to tell stories with real drama, heart, and humour.

  4. I’d say Less Than Kind. It felt like a very real working class family on the prairies. And funny, too!

  5. My favorite Canadian shows are the ones that use the culture which is so unique yet diversified. When I watch Cardinal, Motive, Murdoch, Mary Kills people or the new The Good Doctor, I admire the originality and the amazing performance of actors, crew and directors who do not have the big budget that our southern neighbors have and yet are ab le to produce better shows. I’d love to go to the Toronto Screenwriting Conference. I’m working on a short Noir set in Montreal, I’d like to learn how I could transfer to a visual script. Thank you

  6. Many, of course! But the first show that I remember having an impact on me were the whole Anne/Avonlea oeuvre from Kevin Sullivan. Moving stories and high production value, AND it was made in Canada? 10-year-old me was blown away and a regular watcher for years.

  7. I have to say Mary Kills People lit a fire under my ass to get my scripts polished and ready to pitch here in Canada. Excited to see what happens in season 3!

  8. Lost Girl! It was the first series where I paid attention to the writing process behind the scenes and realized that maybe I could do that too – and in Canada to boot.

  9. Trailer Park Boys!

    People think the show is stupid, but the subtle (and not so subtle) humour of the show flows abundantly. Ricky’s expressions are so perfectly slightly off, that’s what made me want to write comedy in Canada. Plus it’s the first Canadian comedy show to gain a massive American audience.

    And don’t get me started about Corner Gas. What a terrible show. Corner gas also made me want to join the film industry, because I feel very strongly that I could (and have written) much better comedy. So I gotta give it up to them, truly inspirational.

  10. Having to pick only one is truly unfair. :) That being said:

    In 2010 I was back working a joe job, one that I dreaded going to, but desperately needed. I’d broken my kneecap in April of the previous year, so I’d gone through my savings and found myself stuck. I knew what I had to do, so I sucked it up, thankful that the people I worked with were awesome, unhappy that I found myself here, yet again, and trying to find a way rebalance my life.

    The time right before I had to leave for work was always the worst. The anticipation of it. I worked at a comedy club, and the audiences were generally fine, but 20% of them were just jerks. They’d treat you like crap, call you names, throw up in the bathrooms, and move the furniture around which is soooo great when you’re trying to serve drinks in the dark.

    One day, on the way to work, I’d brought my shiny, new iPod Touch with me. I’d downloaded the first episode of a new show called Republic of Doyle off of iTunes for free, so I thought I’d start watching that instead of reading my book. It sucked me in from frame one. Right off the bat, there was a chase scene! Through the brightly coloured streets of Newfoundland, which popped on my small screen, and underscored with a fantastic east coast sound, Jake Doyle was on foot pursuing a kid in a backpack. Cut to Jake’s dad, Mal, in a vehicle, on a walkie with his son and the smart aleck exchanges began flying. Suddenly, they’re both chasing the kid! Through the street, down the stairs, up the stairs! They had him! They lost him! ACROSS THE ROOFTOPS!! As Jake pursued him relentlessly, the kid doesn’t come across as dangerous; he even throws a “What’s your problem?!” over his shoulder, like he has no idea why he’s in this situation. The image slows, the kid comes to the edge of the roof. Jake catches up to him. As Mal watches the two of them fall together from the roof—to a landing maybe two feet below. Watching his son writhe in pain, Mal makes a crack, Jake makes a crack back. Jake apologizes to the kid for his dad’s behaviour.

    End of opener.

    I was. Blown. Away.

    It was intense! It was funny! IT WAS BARELY 90 SECONDS LONG!!

    I was hooked. And I was greedy for it, I only allowed myself to watch it on the subway to and from work so I’d have something to look forward to. So, yeah, it took awhile to watch. :)

    Republic of Doyle is always going to be up there in my top shows. Loved the premise, loved the characters, frickin’ loved the fact that it was Canadian and unashamedly Newfoundland. I watched every episode. I was even on one.

    I still miss it.

  11. I was heavily into Danger Bay and Beachcombers as a child, but the show with the biggest impact on me was Littlest Hobo. Still feel it was an underrated show for its story telling.

  12. For me it was The L.A. Complex, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that I knew a lot of the people who worked on it. On a practical level, it was the first show where I KNEW the people, and the possibility of doing that work in Canada felt real to me. On an artistic level, they did such good work all around. Honourable mentions go to Being Erica, Men With Brooms (the TV show) and InSecurity.

  13. One of the strongest writing right now that I love is Schitt’s Creek, but I have to say that what inspired me when I was younger was Due South. I loved the combo of humour, action and drama throughout the series and I was an avid watcher throughout its run.

  14. SCTV, still ahead of its time as a meta narrative of a TV station making TV, moving from behind the scenes, to finished productions, to ads for Mellonville, cutting to its actual ad spots, to station President (Guy Caballero) addressing the Mellonville audience (breaking the 3 and 1/2 wall?); this show eats McLuhan for breakfast. Vibrant characters whose personas threaten to overwhelm them. Biting satire, local flavours, then Bob & Doug McKenzie becoming definitively Canadian content created to spoof the idea of Canadian Content. To accomplish any one of the feats of SCTV is astounding, but can any show from anywhere come close to matching it? SCTV inspires me to write for Canadian TV as it is so totally of and from a perspective inherent in Canada building a low budget production into a world class work of deep sophistication that’s popularly accessible.

  15. A really easy answer for me! Orphan Black is my all time favourite Canadian TV series. It made me realize I wanted to work in TV in any way I could. While I was in university watching the show, I would marvel at the intricate, unique, and feminist storytelling. It spurred me to continue my education into a TV writing program and further into working in the industry, It is my all-time favourite and made me want to be a storyteller.

  16. Growing up with Canadian content I had so many amazing children’s and young adult shows to choose from. Some of my favourites were Instant Star, Radio Free Rosco, and Life with Derek. Given the chance I would happily still binge watch all of these shows as an adult. A more recent favourite of mine is Alias Grace!

  17. I was obsessed with Slings & Arrows in high school. At the time I was a theatre director, and thought it was just the theatre stuff I loved about it, but I have since realized TV is where I’m meant to be. I still rewatch the show at least once a year, and I think 50% of what I write is just me desperately trying to copy it.

  18. For more than a decade I’ve wanted to create either my own movie or TV series but lacked the courage to really attempt it. I finally really started getting focused in the last couple of years and have to say that Schitt’s Creek has been a huge source of inspiration and motivation. It’s so well done, I laugh out loud every episode and the show has really come into its own these past few seasons, offering heart along with humour. While the show (also a comedy) I hope to one day have on the air is completely different, Schitt’s Creek still serves as a source of inspiration as is Dan Levy and his successful transition from MTV to co-creating his own show.

  19. Orphan Black. The first Canadian tv show that I binge-watched obsessively. I lost sleep, friends and probably hair because of that show.

  20. Orphan Black made me stop and think that maybe the stories I wanted to create could be seen on Canadian screens. It was ambitious, different, thought-provoking and female driven.

  21. Being Erica treated its vast number of complex, 3-dimensional characters with sympathy, tenderness and wit. I totally understood and felt for Erica as well as all the supporting characters, which is why I felt so attached to the series… because I felt attached to the characters specifically. I want to write something that’s as humourous, reflective and deeply character driven as Being Erica one day.

  22. I think Little Mosque on the Prairie was one of the first shows I had ever seen that I truly identified with. Canada is so diverse and we embrace it in many ways, but that was the first time I saw anything resembling my experience as a Muslim AND a Canadian at the same time. Since then, I’ve been working on projects that I hope might get to the screen some day, and help more kids like me see themselves on TV.

  23. Looking at my writing now, I realize what an inspiration ReBoot had on my storytelling. Great characters, stakes, world building, and just plain fun. I’m thrilled with the new ReBoot!

  24. Without question, “Schitt’s Creek” has inspired me to write for Canadian TV and film. Every character and conflict is so superbly defined through the quality of the writing. Having written and performed stand-up comedy, I’m excited by the prospect of attempting to follow in the footsteps of those before me who have made the terms Canadian and comedy synonymous.

  25. Canadian shows have always had the tendency to be more daring than the rest. Look at Degrassi The Next Generation and the stories they told that outraged the U.S.A. market.

    For me, another show that was daring was Dead Man’s Gun. A period show that ran from 97 – 99 in the frontier that had no cast or characters. The principal character of this show was this revolver. For those who have never seen the show. This gun would come into the lives of the episodic cast and either change the lives of whoever wielded it for the better or really messed you up.

    This show always engaged me as a teenager because of the fact it was a western and actually quite gritty in that sense. But also from the excellent characterization from episode to episode. the showrunner, series directors, and writers brought in extremely talented casts of mostly Canadian actors that were able to make compelling television every week on an episodic show.

    1. I was in an episode of “Dead mans Gun” it was a well done show and the cast and crew were wonderful! Good choice!

  26. Big question :P

    I particularly love and am inspired by the youth tv and the science fiction tv we make so growing up it was shows like Radio Free Roscoe and Higher Ground and more recently shows like Orphan Black and Lost Girl. I love their offbeat weirdness, heart and Canadian-ness.

    And of course Space Cases. The perfect blending of both.

  27. Murdoch Mysteries, Frankie Drake, Designated Survivor, Riverdale, Kim’s Convenience, Expanse and Handmaid’s Tale are some of the shows that have inspired me to want to write in Canada.

  28. Rookie Blue showed me that slick quality was possible coming from Canada, and Kids in the Hall showed me that weird comedy has a place in the Canadian market.

  29. A lot of Canadian television was inspirational. However the one that actually made me feel Canadian and entice me to write for Canadian television was “The Beachcombers”.

  30. I grew up watching Canadian TV legends like Mr Dressup, Fraggle Rock, The Littlest Hobo, and countless other animated Canadian kids shows. I would like at shows like these and think “I want to do that when I grew up.” And now I am!

  31. Fraggle Rock and Slings & Arrows both stand out as shows that we’re smart and special when I was growing up. Baroness Von Sketch Show is inspiring me now to just make the damn thing yourself.

  32. Baroness Von Sketch! Though the theme song from Polka Dot Door will live on in my lizard brain for all time.

  33. 20 years ago, before I’d ever lived in Canada, a Canadian brought me VHS(!) tapes of a Teletoon series called THE UNTALKATIVE BUNNY. It was one of the most dazzlingly creative cartoons I’d ever seen — way ahead of its time. I was so jealous of the people who got to make such innovative cartoons that I wanted to do that too.

  34. One show that inspired me to become a writer for the Canadian market was Kids In The Hall.

    As a gay child growing up in the 90s, then later re-discovering the show in my late teens/early 20s, I was drawn to the hilarious sketches, genderbending characters, and reoccurring jokes.

    I wrote my first sketch in High School about a dinner party hosted by the strangest people who simply served croutons for dinner.

    It inspired me to pursue drama and acting to study in University. Now I have an enormous passion for sketch comedy, and writing for film & television! Thanks K.I.T.H.

  35. Murdoch Mysteries was that show, which inspires me or you can say makes me excited towards Canadian Television. Being a newcomer writer in Canada, it was an excellent introduction of what greatness CadTV holds. Being a Screenwriting student, I visited on the sets of Murdoch Mysteries which was an incredible, once-in-a-life experience. It was a delightful chance for me to know the process of how this period drama unfolds.

  36. I can’t believe nobody mentioned Ken Finkleman’s The Newsroom yet! The Newsroom is hands down the best sitcom Canada has ever produced so far. It was dark in tone but only because it commented on reality. Aside from the computers and phones they used in 1996, everything else still holds up to this day. It was almost a satire of the CBC itself, making fun of incompetent people within a publicly funded organization, people who’ll do anything for ratings, the desensitization of journalists reporting on the news and the continual oppression of marginalised groups. CBC needs to give those kind of realistic, dark sitcoms more of a chance if they truly want to compete with American sitcoms.

  37. Baroness von sketch show is such an important show for Canadian female comedians. The show makes me have faith that the market is chnaging to include younger and more diverse voices. I always used to think Canadian TV wasn’t something I could write being mostly exposed to American cinema but this show has changed that fact for me.

  38. The one TV show that inspired me to be a writer, was my all time favourite Canadian TV show, “The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.” I wasn’t born yet when the show was on the air in 1971; but in the early 1982, I would get up every Saturday morning at 4:00am, sneak downstairs to the living room with my older sister, I loved it!
    I would dance to the Wolfman and then try to cook Saturday morning breakfast, like Grizelda.

    My parents weren’t too impressed with me, at five year old, watching this show, but I still found a way to watch. Waking up that early to watch the Count and Igor trying to revive Brucie,
    gosh… I love that show!!!

  39. “Flashpoint” was the show that inspired me to write for television. How Mark & Stephanie took such a tragic event in Toronto’s history with the Union Station shooting, and just by being curious how looking at the human cost of protecting society can be.

    It was the first time I saw Toronto as a sexy landscape with danger, complexity, and heart.

    In finding the small stories with potentially tragic stakes “Flashpoint” showed me what compelling drama can be made in Canada, by Canadians, for the world.

  40. Rick Mercer and red green both wonderful in there own right, timeless and incredibly entertaining. Plus I got to mention cartoons I always enjoyed Jimmy two two, forget about it and who rembers the cbc classic chilly beach. Tons of fun and each inspirational in there own way.

  41. The King of Kensington. Hands down. I still use that term wherever I go. Of course a lot more explanation is required. But I don’t mind. To write a show with such a memorable character, so iconic of Canada. I didn’t understand Canadian culture at the time, I was far too young, but now that I’m older, I appreciate it all the more.

  42. MacGyver & Handmaid’s Tale if ‘Canadian connection’ is the criteria… but going wholly Canadian… Fraggle Rock, Danger Bay, The Beachcombers with The Littlest Hobo taking the cake, if I absolutely have to settle on one.

  43. I think the one that inspired me most to get into screenwriting was Due South. The concept of a buddy cop show where one is a Canadian Mountie and the other is a member if the Chicago PD made it one of the more relatable, but underrated shows growing up. It also played well on Canadian/American stereotypes and the writing addressed a lot of issues still present today without losing its Canadian charm or failing to grab the attention of Americans and even Brits

  44. For me, it’s definitely “Kim’s Convenience” because it’s so well-written that you don’t notice you’re laughing at jokes that you likely wouldn’t have caught and/or appreciated without either being Korean or having lived there a long time. Normally, insider material is exclusive, but this show manages to be inclusive to all Canadians. That’s some kind of magic.

  45. Slings & Arrows still blows me away. A gorgeous ensemble story on a very modest budget, SO smart, hilarious and heart-wrenching at once. I rewatch often! Also shout-outs to Orphan Black and Murdoch Mysteries because way to go guys, seriously, way to go.

  46. X company was a show that inspired me to want to be a tv writer, more recently Anne on CBC or last year’s forgotten gem Four in the Morning really made confident that this was what I wanted to be doing.

  47. The one that first sparked my interest to be a writer was This Hour has 22 Minutes! Watching it as I grew up, it slowly started to sink in that if you’re funny enough – and you’re good enough – you can make the show you want to make.

  48. SCTV was a huge inspiration for me and helped build the writer I am today. Despite the tv show being way before my time and all my friends asking me why I spent so many hours obsessing over this show, I took away a fantastic sense of playfulness and a great flair for comedy that I now inject into my scripts – especially for animation.

  49. If we are going to go with formative ones from childhood — Littlest Hobo and Ready or Not come to mind. As do 22 Minutes and Air Farce. But, in more recent years as I’ve developed as a writer, I’d go with 19-2 with a bit of a side of Rookie Blue.

  50. Rick Mercer, and Baroness Von Sketch are super raw and engaging comedies, which are qualities I strive for in my writing.
    King of Kensington (with the wonderful Al Waxman, whom I briefly studied acting with), and Littlest Hobo were captivating shows, for a kid like me growing up in Northern Ontario… and they appealed to a wide demographic).

  51. Looking back now, I believe that it started with Thomas Sue: F.B.Eye, a show that I know was made in partnership with America, but it was one of the Canadian shows that got me interested and made me think, “I’m Canadian and I can write something like that?” After that it grew after watching other successful Canadian shows such as Orphan Black. I want to write character-driven shows.

  52. I love the handmaid’s tale and it has inspired me with the deep plot lines and the myriad of intriguing characters.

  53. Orphan Black was one of the first shows that inspired be ( and hooked me) to the idea of writing for TV.

  54. My inspiration is Corner Gas. Corner Gas is a dry, intelligent comedy that inspired me to write about everyday people and their bizarre encounters with each other.

  55. The Newsroom has to be the choice for me. A show that was way ahead of its time. A lot of current comedy owes a lot to this show. Even Ricky Gervais has referenced it as an inspiration for the Office.

  56. Thanks for the opportunity to apply.
    Slings and Arrows by far. It proved that funny, smart and specific comedy could be made in Canada. I ordered the DVDs on Ebay a few years ago so I always have the show on hand.

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