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AMI announces the Accessible Writers’ Lab

From a media release:

Accessible Media Inc. (AMI), in partnership with ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto and the Miles Nadal JCC, and sponsored by the Canada Media Fund (CMF), is pleased to announce that submissions are now being accepted for the Accessible Writers’ Lab.

Designed and led by Ophira Calof, the Accessible Writers’ Lab is an innovative, national lab for writers with disabilities and established showrunners/senior writers to experiment with what an accessible TV writers’ room might look like, breaking down barriers and creating pathways for creatives in the disability community to thrive in the Canadian television industry.

Right now, writers’ rooms, both in-person and virtual, are largely inaccessible for creatives with disabilities. There are barriers in communication modalities, sensory needs, structure, process and stigma. These barriers become glaringly evident in the recent Writer’s Guild of Canada Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Report which showed that only 0.3% of Guild membership identified as a person with a disability, and writers with disabilities only accounted for 1% of TV writers across Canada in 2019, despite people with disabilities making up approximately 22% of the population.

The initiative is designed to address those barriers by focusing on collective accessibility, fostering relationships and knowledge sharing and culminates in a case study report that will be distributed industry-wide.

The Accessible Writers’ Lab is open to applicants who:

  • Are Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  • Are 18 years of age or older
  • Identify as Disabled, d/Deaf, chronically ill, neurodiverse, Mad or sick*
  • Have storytelling experience (this may or may not be screenwriting)
  • Are interested in writing for the Canadian television industry
  • Are excited about collective accessibility and experimenting with unique writing methods

The Accessible Writers’ Lab will be shaped, in part, by the needs and interests of selected writers.

Location: Virtual, with the possibility of hybrid meet-ups, depending on interest, geography and availability

Timeline: September-November, with approximately 20 hours of scheduled programming, along with discretionary time spent developing a scene or script individually or with a partner

Payment: This program is free of charge, and each participant will receive a $1,350 honorarium

Deadline for submissions: August 4, 2022

More information: Check out the program webpage

Apply now: Fill out the Google document

Questions about the lab and application support: accessiblewriterslab@gmail.com

About Ophira Calof
Ophira Calof (pronouns: she/they) is a multi-award-winning disabled writer, performer and consultant who works to “crip the script,” centring disability knowledge and experience throughout process, production and presentation. Their credits include TallBoyz (CBC), Kids In The Hall (Amazon Prime), Generally Hospital (Canadian Comedy Award Nominee) and their solo show Literally Titanium (Next Stage Theatre Festival). Ophira has also created a number of disability arts projects, including Making Space: Stories of Disabled Youth Past and Present (Myseum Toronto/RAFFTO) and Dis/Play (MNJCC/RAFFTO/ArtWorxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021-2022).

Additionally, Ophira was the accessibility process lead for AccessCBC, the curatorial committee lead for the 2022 ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto, and has taught workshops internationally on storytelling, writing, music, accessibility and disability narratives. They have created the courses Sketch Comedy with Ophira Calof and Crip Storytelling, a series in partnership with Centre of Independent Living Toronto and the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre.

*The program’s understanding of disability embraces The Accessible Canada Act definition, which is inclusive of visible and invisible disabilities, permanent, temporary or episodic in nature. We will honour the language writers use to self-identify, acknowledging that ablesim, audism and sanism can be experienced regardless of your relationship with the word “Disability.”

Presenting Sponsor: Canada Media Fund
The Canada Media Fund (CMF) fosters, develops, finances and promotes the production of Canadian content and applications for all audiovisual media platforms. The CMF guides Canadian content towards a competitive global environment by fostering industry innovation, rewarding success, enabling a diversity of voice and promoting access to content through public and private sector partnerships. The CMF receives financial contributions from the Government of Canada and Canada’s cable, satellite and IPTV distributors. Please visit cmf-fmc.ca.

Industry Partner: Accessible Media Inc.
AMI is a not-for-profit media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Operating three broadcast services, AMI-tv and AMI-audio in English and AMI-télé in French, AMI’s vision is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal. To learn more visit AMI.ca and AMItele.ca.

Presenting Partner: ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto
Presented by the Wagner Green Centre for Access & Inclusion at the Miles Nadal JCC in Toronto, the ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto is dedicated to showcasing the work and stories of Deaf and/or disabled communities and filmmakers from around the world.

For questions about the program and application support, please contact: accessiblewriterslab@gmail.com


Blue Ant Media unveils new greenlights for its Canadian TV platforms

From a media release:

Blue Ant Media announced today three new greenlights and one renewal set to air across its homegrown Canadian specialty TV platforms: Cottage Life, T+E and Love Nature. The new wave of greenlights reinforces Blue Ant Media’s ongoing commitment to creating premium, engaging content with global reach and scale. Overseen by Sam Linton, VP, Head of Original Content, Canadian Media, Blue Ant Media, the originals lineup includes a mix of world broadcast and Canadian premieres with all four series available for licensing globally by Blue Ant International.

Love Nature’s commitment to creating emotional connections between its audience and the natural world is realized once again through its latest original series, Cub Camp (World Broadcast Premiere), which introduces passionate animal lovers to the orphaned cubs at Black Bear Rescue Manitoba. Produced by Merit Motion Pictures, the six-part series offers audiences the unique opportunity to follow adorable orphaned black bear cubs, from the moment they’re rescued to the day they’re released into the wild. Cub Camp is a Love Nature global commission slated to air in Canada and roll out worldwide on Love Nature’s branded linear and streaming platforms. Filming begins spring/summer 2023.

The second greenlight is American Doomsday (wt) (Canadian Broadcast Premiere), slated to air on Cottage Life alongside an existing roster of successful extreme weather and survival series. The new three-part documentary series examines Mother Nature’s sheer power of destruction in an in-depth analysis on weather phenomena and natural forces and its effects on humans and the geology of our planet. Renewed for Cottage Life is the hit original investigative series, Mysteries from Above (Season 2; World Broadcast Premiere) which will land on the channel in summer 2023. The second installment comes off the back of Season 1’s success, which currently sits as the #1-rated new series on Cottage Life this year. The series captures breathtaking, aerial footage from modern sites to remote and untouched locations across the globe, revealing fascinating insights and never-before-seen footage to the viewers.

Finally, on T+E, Canada’s home to paranormal programming, Blue Ant Media has greenlit the original series Haunted Lost and Found (wt)(World Broadcast Premiere), a treaty co-production between Singaporean producers Beach House Pictures, Momo Film Co. and Vancouver-based De Vries Production. The new six-part series features first-hand accounts from unlucky individuals who purchased, found or were gifted an item, only to discover their newfound possessions were haunted or cursed. Each episode features three mysterious and chilling stories, ranging from items found on the dark web to those discovered in dark alleys.

For a full list of original programming highlights, please see below.


Cub Camp (6×60’; HD)
World Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Merit Motion Pictures
Cub Camp gives viewers an inside look at the Black Bear Rescue Manitoba rehabilitation program, a unique centre that rescues and rehabilitates black bear cubs left orphaned as a result of losing their mothers due to human encroachment on their territories and natural disasters. The cameras follow adorable orphaned cubs, from the moment they’re rescued to the day they’re big enough to be released back into the wild. Distributed by Blue Ant International.


American Doomsday (wt) (3×90’; HD)
Scheduled for spring 2023 • Canadian Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Wildflame/Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media company
A three-part documentary series that looks at how the epic rise of super weather phenomena and natural forces and how it could devastate those living in New York, Miami and the entire west coast. The series provides fascinating insights and grave predictions, which include New York City underwater by 2050, the entire city of Miami sinking into the sea, and a mega-earthquake poised to hit the west coast from California to Canada. Distributed by Blue Ant International.

Mysteries from Above, Season 2 (8×60’; HD)
Scheduled for summer 2023 • World Broadcast Premiere
Producer: Saloon Media, a Blue Ant Media company
Mysteries from Above takes to the skies to offer Canadian audiences a chance to see the world from fresh and exhilarating perspectives. The series explores remote, hard-to-reach locations as drones explore strange geological occurrences, unique man-made structures, curious creatures and lost civilizations, revealing fascinating insights and never-before-seen footage to the viewers. Distributed by Blue Ant International.


Haunted Lost and Found (wt) (6×60’; HD)
Scheduled for spring 2023 • World Broadcast Premiere
Producers: Beach House Pictures, a Blue Ant Media company, Momo Film Co. and De Vries Production
Haunted Lost and Found explores what happens when a found, purchased or gifted object brings terror into the lives of those who acquired it accidentally without knowing its sinister past. The six-part documentary series features first-hand accounts and dramatic reenactments of those whose lives took a horrific turn as a result of their newfound possessions being haunted or cursed. Each hour-long episode features three chilling stories ranging from items found on the dark web to those discovered in dark alleys. Distributed by Blue Ant International.


The Canadian Academy expands successful Women in Post program in its second year, now offering training and guidance to Francophone creatives

From a media release:

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (the Canadian Academy) announced today that applications are now open for the sophomore iteration of Women in Post, a talent development initiative designed to bolster the skills and knowledge of creatives who identify as women or non-binary working in post production. Applications can be submitted here through Monday, July 25, 2022.

Building on the success of the inaugural edition, the second year of Women in Post will expand from six participants to ten and will include a French-language component for Francophone individuals, offering placement opportunities at a post-production house located in Quebec. Women in Post provides in-depth industry access and professional development for emerging to mid-level creatives working in English and French in all areas of post-production. Participants are granted the opportunity to develop their technical, creative, and leadership skills through strategic learning modules led by industry experts, and a hands-on mentorship at a post-production company in Canada that aligns with their area of expertise. 

The Canadian Academy is also pleased to announce that the Canada Media Fund and the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Emerging Artists have joined the Women in Post program as supporting partners, which is presented by Netflix and supported by industry partners Company 3 and Rocket Science VFX. 

“There exists an urgent need to create a more equitable post-production landscape for creators who identify as women or non-binary, and we are thrilled to be part of this moment of change for the next generation of English and French Canadian creatives with the expansion of the Women in Post program,” said Louis Calabro, Interim CEO of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. “This expansion would not have been possible without the continued support of Netflix, and our new partners, the Canada Media Fund and RBC Foundation in support of RBC Emerging Artists, who share our common goal of creating a more inclusive and diverse creative industry in Canada.”

Following the closure of submissions on Monday, July 25, 2022, the Canadian Academy will conduct internal, peer, and juried reviews to determine the participants. Between eight and ten applicants will be selected to join the second cohort of Women in Post, which will be announced in the coming months.

Launched in October 2021 with the support of Netflix, the inaugural edition of Women in Post featured six English-speaking creators with a range of expertise from across the creative spectrum who received training from industry specialists and hands-on experience at Company 3 and Rocket Science VFX.

The Canadian Academy seeks to foster industry growth, knowledge, inclusion, and mentorship through a series of talent development programs aimed at creating a more equitable screen-based industry in Canada. In addition to Women in Post, programs include the WarnerMedia Access x Canadian Academy Writers Program as well as the WarnerMedia Access x Canadian Academy Directors Program, a pair of talent activation initiatives focused on experienced Canadian writers and directors respectively from underrepresented communities, and the Executive Residency Program, an initiative dedicated to providing executive-level access for mid-career industry professionals who are Black, Indigenous, or persons of colour.

Learn more about Women in Post and submit your application at Academy.ca/WomenInPost.


Link: Canadian broadcasters, who are up Schitt’s Creek without streaming regulation, fight back at tense Banff

From Manori Ravindran of Variety:

Link: Canadian broadcasters, who are up Schitt’s Creek without streaming regulation, fight back at tense Banff
The moody mountainscape surrounding the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel may have been tailor-made for the British Columbia-shot thriller “Yellowjackets,” which was honored at this week’s Banff World Media Festival, but the real survival drama was raging between Canadian broadcasters and the streaming giants. Continue reading.


CBC, BIPOC TV & Film and CFC announce new showrunner catalyst to support the advancement of diverse Canadian creators

From a media release:

CBC, BIPOC TV & Film and the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) today announced at the Banff World Media Festival the creation of a new accelerator program, the CBC-BIPOC TV & FILM SHOWRUNNER CATALYST, which will support the career advancement of senior writers who identify as Indigenous, Black or People of Colour through hands-on and personally tailored on-set experience. The Catalyst offers a high-level professional coaching opportunity, designed through an anti-racist and equity-focused lens, and provides participants with additional tools and support systems necessary to reach a showrunner level in the Canadian film and television industry. CBC, BIPOC TV & Film and the CFC have made an initial commitment of three years to the program, with the opportunity to renew.

The first part of the Catalyst will consist of a series of substantive and hands-on masterclasses covering topics related to the role and responsibilities of a showrunner, including anti-oppressive leadership, people management, mental health, building relationships with network, studios, creative and crew, and all facets of bringing a show to life, from the writing room to prep, production, post and delivery.

Through the context of a senior writing and producing role on a CBC series, the second part of the Catalyst will see each participant building upon their foundational skills in showrunning by working with an experienced showrunner and participating in all key elements of production: from prep meetings to running the floor, managing set, taking a block of episodes through to post. Throughout the process, each participant will also be paired with an external showrunner, who will serve as a mentor. The program will be highly tailored for the needs of each writer and participating production, offering wellness and advocacy support through an anti-racism, anti-oppression lens. The inaugural year will run through the summer and fall of 2022.

The 2022 inaugural participants are as follows:

Andrew Burrows-Trotman

Andrew Burrows-Trotman (ABT) earned a Double Honours degree in English and History at the University of Toronto before attending the American Film Institute’s Screenwriting MFA programme. Upon graduation, ABT wrote a feature screenplay based on the Valley Manor Retirement Home scandal entitled, If We Left. It was shortlisted for the prestigious San Francisco Film Society’s Hearst Grant. ABT subsequently joined the writing staff of Frankie Drake Mysteries, writing episodes for the first three seasons of the popular CBC series. His other TV credits include Diggstown (CBC/BET+), Utopia Falls (Hulu/CBC Gem) and The Porter (CBC/BET+).

“Television production is more than a profession, it is how I share my soul with the world and let them know I was here. No matter how the rest of my career pans out, I have already lived the dream. Every day I wake up brimming with gratitude that I get to tell stories for a living. I am dedicated to a life of service and mentorship, dutifully holding whatever doors are opened for me so others can enter.” – Andrew Burrows-Trotman


MOTION is a screenwriter, playwright, poet and emcee, fusing word, sound & drama for the screen and stage. She is co-writer of the award-winning feature Akilla’s Escape with director Charles Officer, which debuted at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, and garnered five Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Original Screenplay. An alumna of the Canadian Film Centre, she is also the writer of A Man’s Story, which won the Impact Award for Best Short Film at the ReelWorld Film Festival, going on to screen in London, Ghana, Belgium, and Zanzibar. In television, MOTION is a CSA-nominated writer and supervising producer on hit drama series Coroner (CBC/CW), The Porter (CBC/BET+) and Diggstown (CBC/FOX). She is also a writer and co-executive producer on the new digital series Revenge of the Black Best Friend (CBC Gem). Her most recent productions for stage and screen include the Dora-nominated Oraltorio: A Theatrical Mixtape with DJ L’Oqenz (Riser/Obsidian/Soulpepper), and Rebirth of the Afronauts in the award-winning anthology series 21 Black Futures (Obsidian/CBC Gem).

“I am passionate about the creative process of developing unique, often unseen and impactful stories, opening a stage for diverse talents in front of and behind the camera, to reach both new and diverse audiences nationally and worldwide. I also am passionate about initiating opportunities for BIPOC and new generations of writers, as well as other creatives and crew. By bringing new voices to the writers’ rooms, spearheading creative projects and creating series that resonate and reflect those that still need to be heard, I’m excited by the chance to work with others to amplify, collaborate, create, and change.” – MOTION

Ian Iqbal Rashid

Ian Iqbal Rashid is a creator, writer, director and producer known for the series Sort Of (CBC/HBO Max) and This Life (BBC) as well as the feature films Touch of Pink (Mongrel/Sony Picture Classics) and How She Move (Mongrel/Paramount). Born in Tanzania of Muslim Indian ancestry, Ian holds dual British/Canadian nationality. His awards include the Writers Guild Award of Great Britain for Series Writing and the Aga Khan Award for Excellence in the Arts. He is the author of three books of poetry, has curated exhibitions and film programmes, and was the founder and first director of Desh Pardesh, Canada’s seminal festival of South Asian diasporic culture.

“In recent years I have led development rooms and created series for Sienna, CBC, Lionsgate, Showtime, and Mark Gordon Productions. And while I have yet to run a produced show, I think my experience and expertise reveal that I have exactly the right skill set and sensibility for that role.” – Ian Iqbal Rashid

Catalyst participants are nominated by showrunners, producers, production companies or broadcasters, in consultation with BIPOC TV & Film and the CFC, based on their experience and readiness to further progress in their career. In order to qualify for participation, each potential candidate must be a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident of Canada (as recognized by CAVCO), and a Writers Guild of Canada member in good standing with a minimum of three episodes of “written by” credits on 30 or 60-minute prime time television or streaming platform productions in the last seven years, and at least one “co-producer” credit in the last three years, or equivalent experience. For more information on the qualification and nomination process, visit bipoctvandfilm.com/showrunner-catalyst.