Tag Archives: Toronto Screenwriting Conference

TSC’s Glenn Cockburn talks the Toronto Screenwriting Awards

Have you got a script you deem award-worthy? The Toronto Screenwriting Conference wants to read it. The two-day event, scheduled to take place June 23-24, 2018, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto, is set to make an international splash with its first-ever Toronto Screenwriting Awards.

Celebrating the best in 12 categories—film (drama, comedy, genre, animation) and television (serialized drama, procedural drama, genre drama, family drama, single-camera comedy, multi-camera comedy, youth & family comedy, animation comedy)—submissions can come from any country in the world as long as it was originally written in English and the script was screened or aired between January and December of 2017.

The TSC is a conference offering screenwriters and other industry professionals an opportunity to develop their skills at a high level as well as network with some of the best in the TV and film business. The conference has attracted a who’s who of screenwriting talent to speak, including Moira Walley-Beckett (Anne), Emily Andras (Wynonna Earp), Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead), Bruce Smith (19-2), David S. Goyer (Da Vinci’s Demons), Beau Willimon (House of Cards) and Tassie Cameron (Mary Kills People).

With the submission deadline for scripts of Monday, April 30, at midnight ET, we got TSC founder and advisory committee chair Glenn Cockburn on the phone to talk about them.

Why did you decide to have a Toronto Screenwriting Awards?
Glenn Cockburn: I resented the idea for any awards for a long time. The last thing anyone really needs is another awards show. But I did recognize the value of it and we are trying to build the best screenwriting event in the world and that’s not just about having the best speakers in the world and the best content. It’s about being a weekend that celebrates screenwriting. I knew an awards component was going to be more and more important to that but the trick was what were we going to do? When I first had the idea for the Toronto Screenwriting Conference I was shocked there wasn’t a conference for professional screenwriters anywhere in the world at the time.

As I started thinking more seriously and considered awards I wondered what that would look like. I was shocked to find out there was nowhere in the world where screenwriters were being awarded for the various categories of screenwriting. That was the big turning point for me. The realization we could do an awards show where we could take best comedy and actually award people within various aspects of that. We looked at best drama, best comedy and best screenplay, the traditional categories people win awards in. We said, ‘What if we treated those as realms and reward people within those realms?’ So, best TV drama becomes best procedural drama, best serialized drama, best genre drama and then best family drama. The ability to write those four sub-genres of drama are completely different than the others. Obviously, the difference between single-cam and multi-cam comedy is very different when it comes to structure and the types of jokes that are written. To lump everyone into one category seemed unfair and if we were going to celebrate screenwriters we should do it in the various ways they are pursuing their careers.

I agree with what you’ve said and I’m overjoyed to see categories like family drama, youth and family comedy and animated comedy. The scripts being written in those categories alone are amazing.
Absolutely. One hour drama tends to get too much attention and the people who write Heartland are amazing at it and they need to get more attention for writing something that isn’t a one hour drama that isn’t for adults only. That’s an important thing to recognize.

Having awards like this puts the Toronto Screenwriting Conference on a world stage. Are you OK with that?
That’s the intention. The conference itself is designed for and programmed for professional screenwriters and we want to make sure that the best screenwriters in the world, once a year, know and remember they need to go to Toronto to have a conversation about what’s going on in their profession. And, to be clear, the Toronto Screenwriting Awards are open to the English language. Our hope, over time, is that we’ll have nominees from England up against nominees from Australia, Canada and the United States. I would love it if something from Canada won best procedural or something from Scandinavia won best serialized drama. I would love that.

You could have, for the first year of the awards, gone with just Canada and the U.S. for entries. You went more aggressively and opened it to the world right away. That’s exciting.
I want the international screenwriting community to look to Toronto as the centre of screenwriting and look forward to the conversations. I want other countries to know that we recognize every country is doing something different in the world of screenwriting and that we want to talk about it.

Submit your script to this year’s Toronto Screenwriting Awards. The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 30, at midnight ET. And register now for this year’s conference.




Kevin White previews this year’s Writing Room Intensive at the TSC

This year’s WGC Writing Room Intensive at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference is notable for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s the first time the TSC’s Intensive is focusing on comedy writing. And secondly, the Intensive is being run by Kevin White and Ins Choi, the co-creators of CBC’s hit comedy Kim’s Convenience, giving the participants the opportunity to write a mock episode of the series which is, coincidentally, prepping for Season 2 on CBC.

On Thursday, Amy Cole, Derek Robertson, Elize Morgan, Gillian Muller, Jennifer Siddle, Lisa Rose Snow, Marcia Johnson and Richard Clark will join White, Choi and myself for six-hour session (there will be snacks, just like a real writer’s room). What can these lucky eight expect from the session? We got Kevin White to tease what’s in store. And check back on Friday to read my recap of the session; I’ll be moderating a panel discussing the group’s experiences on Saturday, April 22, at the Toronto Screenwriting Conference.

First off, what interested you about participating in the Writing Room Intensive this year?
Kevin White: It’s hard to get experience making stuff and doing stuff. I feel like anytime you can share that with people, with the hopes that people can learn and get better at the craft [is good]. And, hopefully, we learn something too and get a chance to meet emerging or young writers. That’s what was in it for us. If anyone can take anything away from the way we write the show, all the better.

What are you hoping they walk away with?
I don’t really know how other writer’s room are run. I’ve been in other people’s rooms as a writer for hire, so I have some sense of that. I’ve adapted a lot of things over the years as to how we approach breaking story and writing scripts collectively, so I hope some of that might be informative and helpful to people who have had less time in rooms. From a selfish point of view, it’s always nice to meet writers you haven’t worked with before and have a chance to see what their ideas are about, how they think and their point of view. I think it will be exciting for us to have eight fresh eyes on the material and really hear what it’s like for someone who hasn’t had any previous experience or exposure to the behind-the-scenes of our show freshen our outlook as well.

Will you be setting up the Intensive like you do it on Kim’s Convenience?
We’re going to try. Obviously, we have part of the morning finding out who everyone is. Then we’ll share ideas.

What can you say about the breakout sessions you have planned?
We have seven writers in the room on Kim’s Convenience now. With a number like that, we often work in different side group configurations. I hope we’ll have time to break up how we do it a little bit. Ins will have half the room, I will have half the room and we’ll be able to work in two smaller groups and report back to the bigger group. We want to be able to work with as many people as possible and meet with as many people as possible.

People will, presumably, be coming to the table with ideas. We need to hear those ideas and ruminate on them on them in the smaller groups. We’ll boil down to the ones that seem to have the most promise and then get back together and have feedback as the groups present their strongest ideas. They may be big stories and they may be small stories. Then, once we land on the stories we like the most and can sort of fit together, then we can figure out what will be the main story and what will be the other story. There might even be a third story. Then we’ll probably break off again into groups and beat those out.

Are you expecting to have an episode outline completed by the end of the day?
[Laughs.] I don’t know! I’m sure we can cobble together something. You can always make something because of time constraints because day’s end is coming. But, yes, I think we’ll be able to cobble together the bones of an episode and try to come up with what those 18 or 20 scenes could be for this typical Kim’s Convenience episode.

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference runs April 22-23, 2017. Get the latest information—including events and how to register—on the official website.


Toronto Screenwriting Conference announces Magee Mentorship Award winners and Writers Room participants

From a media release:

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference (TSC) today announced the five winners of the first annual Magee TV Diverse Screenwriters Mentorship Award, a mentorship and bursary program that was created to help emerging and mid-level screenwriters from diverse backgrounds to be mentored, network with other Canadian television professionals and be exposed to other leaders in the field of screen-based writing.

To achieve this objective – each of the five winners including Anil Kamal, Mackenzie Sinclair, Marsha Mason, Maya Bastian and Nadia Alam will receive a complimentary registration for the highly anticipated two-day conference that takes place in Toronto over the weekend of April 22-23. The winners will also join Al Magee, founder of Magee TV, a producer, writer and story editor with a long history of mentorship, for a pre-conference meet up in addition to each receiving a three-month mentorship with Canadian screenwriting professionals that include Alejandro Alcoba, Desmond Sargeant, Duana Taha, Pat Mills and Renuka Jeyapalan. Click HERE to see the bios for the winners and click HERE to see the bios for their chosen mentors.

The winners were chosen by their mentors based on submissions that included the following four criteria: one concept for an original series or feature film, one writing sample, a letter of interest and intent and a letter of reference.

The TSC also announced today the official selection of participants who will join co-creators Ins Choi and Kevin White of CBC’s runaway hit, Kim’s Convenience, in support of this years WGC Writing Room Intensive. Amy Cole, Elize Morgan, Gillian Muller, Jennifer Siddle, Marcia Johnson, Richard Clark, Lisa Rose Snow and Derek Robertson will all work alongside Ins and Kevin in a mock writers room on Thursday, April 20th. The team will then reconvene on stage at the conference for a special session on Saturday, April 22nd where they will finish the process of breaking story in the room in front of the TSC delegates. Click HERE to see the bios for each participant.

The Writing Room Intensive participants were selected through a juried process and all who entered for consideration were required to meet certain qualifications including relevant experience (either past or present) working on a television series as either a story coordinator, staff writer, story editor, producer, executive producer, creator and/or showrunner.

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference runs April 22-23, 2017. Get the latest information—including events and how to register—on the official website.


Win passes to the Toronto Screenwriting Conference

Update: Congratulations to Corrie Clark and Tim Stubinski, who won the free passes 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 event weekend event—on April 22 and 23—brings together expert creative talent, authors and speakers specializing in the craft of writing.

Among the highlights is a Writing Room Intensive with Kim’s Convenience showrunners Ins Choi and Kevin White, where participants will write an episode of a comedy series. Also on tap: industry roundtables, and speakers like Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby), AMC Studios co-head Rick Olshansky, Marti Noxon (Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce), Adam Reed (Archer), Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers (Halt and Catch Fire), and Corey Mandell. More speakers and sessions will be announced soon.

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 of two complimentary passes to the weekend!

Simply comment below telling us why you’d like to attend and we’ll select two winners at random to attend next month’s event. The contest closes Wednesday, April 12, at noon PT/3 p.m. ET.

More information can be found at the TSC website.


Toronto Screenwriting Conference announces Paul Haggis to join as speaker

From a media release:

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference (TSC) announced today that veteran award-winning screenwriter, producer and director, Paul Haggis, will join the roster of speakers for this year’s event taking place on April 22 – 23 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Haggis, an Ontario native, has had a prolific career writing, directing and producing an array of award-winning television and film productions. In 2006, he became the first screenwriter to pen two Oscar-winning feature films back-to-back for Million Dollar Baby (directed by Clint Eastwood) and Crash, a film that he wrote and directed and one that also earned several nominations and awards from other prestigious associations including IFP Spirit Awards, The Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA. Throughout his illustrious career, he has collaborated with some of Hollywood’s leading actors including Oscar Isaac, Tommy Lee Jones, Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon and Russell Crowe just to name a few. Television credits include Thirtysomething, The Tracey Ullman Show and Due South among others.

Other speakers lined up for the conference so far include Marti Noxon (UnREAL, Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and the highly-anticipated upcoming Sharp Objects, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Amy Adams), Chris Cantwell (Halt & Catch Fire), Chris Rogers (Halt & Catch Fire), Adam Reed (Archer), Rick Olshansky (Co-Head, AMC Studios), Alison Friedman (Director of Development, Color Force), Mark Ceryak (VP of Film and Televison Production, Gran Via Productions), Alex Foster (President of Production, The Middleton Media Group), Katrina Saville(Private Eyes), Courtney Jane Walker (Degrassi), Tracey Deer (Mowhawk Girls), Jennifer Holness (Shoot the Messenger), Kevin White (Kim’s Convenience), Ins Choi(Kim’s Convenience) and Corey Mandell (award-winning playwright and screenwriter).

The Toronto Screenwriting Conference runs April 22-23, 2017. Get the latest information—including events and how to register—on the official website.