Tag Archives: Canadian Film Centre

Award-winning writer/producer Bruce Smith to lead story room for 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program

From a media release:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and Bell Media are pleased to welcome one of Canada’s top drama showrunners Bruce Smith as the Executive Producer in Residence of the 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program. From September to December 2019, Smith will lead the story room as well as the six television writers selected to participate in this year’s program as they work together to develop Smith’s original series.

Bruce Smith was most recently creator and showrunner of Street Legal on CBC. Previously, he was the showrunner of CTV’s award-winning drama 19-2 and of Cracked (CBC). Over its four-season run, 19-2 earned more than 30 Canadian Screen Awards nominations, including the win for Best Dramatic Series in 2016, when it was also nominated for an International Emmy in the same category. Additionally, Smith has worked as a writer/producer on numerous dramas, including Durham County (HBO CANADA), and has penned multiple award-winning MOWs and miniseries, including The Sleep Room (CBC), Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story (CBC), The Investigation (CTV), and John A: Birth of a Country (CBC), for which he won a 2013 Canadian Screen Award. Smith has received three WGC Screenwriting Awards, including the WGC Showrunner Award in 2015 and the McGrath Service Award in 2019.

The 2019 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program participants are:

  • Henry Campbell (BC)
  • Imogen Grace (ON)
  • Amy Halloran (QC)
  • Rose Napoli (ON)
  • Lori-Ann Russell (ON)
  • Ian Steaman (ON)

This year’s program begins on September 23, 2019. The Bell Media Prime Time TV Program, now in its 20th year, delivers a real-world story room experience and an intense professional and project development process for six TV writers a year. The program has attracted some of Canada’s most prolific and successful showrunners to lead the story room as Executive Producer in Residence, including Michael MacLennan, Karen Walton, Brad Wright, Dennis Heaton and Alexandra Zarowny. The program has played a vital role in developing numerous hit series through its story room, including Travelers and the Emmy Award-winning series Orphan Black. Learn more about the program here.


Introducing the 2018 CFC Bell Media Prime Time TV writers

From a media release:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is delighted to announce the six new residents who will be joining the 2018 Bell Media Prime Time TV Program, presented in association with ABC Signature Studios, beginning Monday, September 24.

The program has attracted some of Canada’s best showrunners to lead the story room as its Executive Producer in Residence, including Dennis Heaton, Avrum Jacobson, Michael MacLennan, Graeme Manson, Karen Walton and Brad Wright. It helped develop smash-hit Emmy Award-winning series Orphan Black and most recently, the critically acclaimed series Travelers, which premieres its third season this fall.

This year’s residents are especially fortunate to work with in-demand CFC alumna and writer-producer, Alexandra Zarowny. Her work spans Degrassi: The Next Generation to Wynonna EarpMurdoch Mysteries to Bellevue and Private Eyes. Zarowny is ready to come full circle: “It cannot be understated, the enormous impact that the Bell Media Prime Time TV Program had in my own creative awakening as a television writer and content creator. The tools and insight gleaned from my training at the CFC still firmly clasped in hand, along with 15 years of career experience, will now be passed on to a stunningly talented team of young writers who are, I’m sure, thrilled to begin this journey, but who also have no idea just how significantly their lives are about to take a sharp turn into unimaginable adventures. Buckle up, everyone! There be a new group of writers coming down the CFC pipeline. As much as this program will change their lives, there’s no doubt in my mind that these new voices emerging in the television landscape will change yours as well.”

This year’s six writers have credits in film, television, theatre, music videos, branded content digital projects, along with an exciting range of professional and life experience.

Meet the Bell Media Prime Time TV Residents:

  • Sophia Fabiilli is an award winning playwright, writer, actor and producer. Her play, The Philanderess, won the 2015 Second City Award for Best New Comedy and her co-created comedy-horror web series,Fatal Murder, is in development with Shaftesbury. Read full bio here.
  • Jessica Meya is a writer, community leader and co-founder of Working the Scene in Colour, a diversity initiative organizing live reads of original scenes written by writers of colour. Meya is a 2018 recipient of the Breakthrough Artist Award at The Toronto Screenwriting Conference. Read full bio here.
  • Michael Rinaldi is an actor and writer for theatre, television and film. His play, Toothpaste and Cigars (co-written with TJ Dawe), was adapted as Michael Dowse’s 2013 feature film, The F Word, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan and Adam Driver. Read full bio here.
  • Mackenzie Sinclair, originally from Edmonton, is a 2017 Toronto Screenwriting Conference’s Magee TV Diverse Screenwriters Award recipient, where he developed his half-hour dramedy series, Snowflake, under the mentorship of writer/director Pat Mills. Read full bio here.
  • Veronika Paz is an actor, playwright, director and television writer. She studied sketch writing at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade, trained as a performer at Pro Actor’s Lab in Toronto and Barrow Group Theatre in New York, and is a 2018 recipient of the Toronto Screenwriting Conference’s Al Magee Diverse Screenwriters Award. Read full bio here.
  • Heather Taylor is a writer, director and co-founder of the creative studio, Cereal Made, in New York, with writing credits that include: the feature The Last Thakur; the sci-fi web series Raptured, currently in development as a TV series; and the award-winning short Stitched. Read full bio here.


Creators of Hit Epic Meal Time Make the Jump to CBC

From a media release:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) is pleased to announce that Elebrity, a series by Montreal-based production company NextTime Productions and creators behind thesmash hit YouTube series Epic Meal Time, has been picked up for a development deal with the CBC. This deal was made possible through the inaugural Jumping Screens Comedy Workshop, Canada’s first-ever enhanced pre-development lab for online creators who want to migrate their talents to television and other screens. NextTime Productions will co-develop the series with Toronto-based independent content production company Aircraft Pictures, the official production partner of the program.

Elebrity explores the notion of becoming a celebrity overnight. It follows Herschel Bock, an eternal slacker, as he attempts to navigate his newfound celebrity status in the digital influencer world or risk losing it all to return to his regular life.

Brothers Darren and Harley Morenstein co-founded NextTime Productions in 2011. Since then, the production company has created and produced several web series, three YouTube channels and two cookbooks, and has amassed more than 7 million subscribers. Their flagship show, Epic Meal Time, has grown to be the number one online cooking show in the world.

NextTime Productions was selected for a TVseries deal out of three YouTubers/YouTube teams who participated in the inaugural Jumping Screens Comedy Workshop, including singer/songwriter and comedian Mikey Bustos, and the award-winning web series Convos With My 2-Year-Old, from creator and star Matthew Clarke and fellow star David Milchard. Mikey Bustos and the team behind Convos With My 2-Year-Old are currently pursuing various opportunities to develop their respective TVseries concepts developed through the Workshop with Aircraft Pictures.

The Jumping Screens Comedy Workshop was a five-month part-time program created by CFC Media Lab, in collaboration with the CBC and Aircraft Pictures, which experimented with a novel approach to series creation. From June to November 2015, the Workshop offered the three aforementioned digital creative teams the opportunity to refine their writing, story structure and characterization skills, and gain valuable experience navigating the Canadian entertainment ecosystem under the mentorship of CBC creative executives, the CFC Media Lab and its mentors, and the experts at Aircraft Pictures. The three YouTube teams debuted their individual series concepts at a VIP screening and reception in late November 2015.


CFC and DHX Media team up to launch The DHX Experience

From a media release:

The Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and DHX Media Ltd. are pleased to announce the launch of The DHX Experience, an exciting new multi-year initiative designed to inspire and help develop a new generation of creative talent for the family/tween/kids marketplace.

The DHX Experience will first be integrated across the CFC’s film, TV, music and acting programs, engaging more than 40 screen-based entertainment industry professionals a year by introducing them to this specialized market through in-depth workshops and practical exercises. Additionally, the initiative will extend beyond the CFC’s talent base to offer a showrunner bootcamp and a British Columbia-based voice for animation workshop.

The DHX Experience kicks off with a symposium at the CFC on Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Led by top practitioners and DHX executives, this daylong event will provide an all-encompassing overview of the kids/tween/family world. The symposium will initiate a series of workshops and bootcamps to further explore creative processes and best practices as the initiative seeks to develop talent destined for the kids/tween/family market. Additional offerings of The DHX Experience include a voice for animation exercise, a hands-on music creation workshop, a storyroom for an animated show experience, as well as pitching and concept development bootcamps.


Interview: Murdoch Mysteries focuses on murderous fashion

Michelle Ricci calls her writing career on Murdoch Mysteries serendipitous, and one can’t help but agree.

It wasn’t long ago that the Toronto native was living in Los Angeles with her boyfriend—writer, producer, filmmaker and military advisor Mir Bahmanyar—when he called her over to the TV. Murdoch Mysteries was on the tube and she quickly became hooked. Unable to work in the U.S., she sat and read scripts and thought she could write better stuff. She enrolled in the Canadian Film Centre‘s Prime Time TV Program on a whim and jetted to Toronto to participate in the course with executive producer in residence Peter Mitchell, who the following year became the showrunner on Murdoch Mysteries.

The rest is, as they say, history. Ricci is now a co-producer on CBC’s Monday night drama, and has written some of the program’s more risqué scenes, including mysteries involving nudist colonies, the beach and this week’s caper regarding a killer corset and an intimate moment between Miss Moss and Dr. Grace. If you want Victorian scandal, call on Ricci.

How did the idea for a killer corset come about?
Michelle Ricci: The world came from an article that I read about corset manufacturing in Toronto. I brought it into the writer’s room and said, “Here’s a world that we haven’t explored. What’s more Victorian than the corset?” We all thought that would be a unique thing to get into. I don’t remember who came up with the idea of the killer corset. It wasn’t me. That just seemed like a such a perfect, Murdoch-ian way to kill someone that we went with it.

We’re still grappling with what is considered beautiful, aren’t we?
Very true. Especially at that time, women were not considered functional beings. They were decorative, which is hilarious because women of the lower classes had to work just as hard as the men did. The fashion had nothing to do with what women had to do every day. I found out a lot of interesting stuff about corsets while I was researching. They were very affordable up to very expensive, depending on the materials used. Every single woman wore a corset, no matter what her social status was and I wasn’t expecting that. It was a mandatory element of dress.

I was on-set during the filming of this episode [check out some rehearsal footage below], and someone joked that your scripts always end up having people in some state of undress. The nudist camp episode, this one …. is it true?
That’s so funny. I have never thought about that before but I guess it’s true. I also did Loch Ness where they were all in bathing suits. Maybe part of it is just a new way to explore the era and the kind of things we don’t get to see all the time. The bathing suits were cool because they’re hilarious. The nudist thing was interesting because it was happening at the time and it’s something that you would not consider from that time period. And for this … I don’t think I went into this thinking that Ogden would get down to her skivvies, but it just seemed like a perfect way to go.

I know that Hélène Joy broke her arm in real life right around when this episode was shot. Was her character’s injury added to the story so that a cast could be shown on her arm?
The injury was written into the script from the very beginning, the only part that changed was her actually breaking her arm in the scene. The whole corset almost squeezing her to death was always in the script. It just turned out to be the perfect plot for her to break her arm so that we could use it in the next episode. She broke it during “Temple of Death” and was broken during “All That Glitters,” but it was covered up. They did an excellent job of covering it up.

The scene between Miss Moss and Dr. Grace was pretty intimate for Murdoch Mysteries. Are you expecting any kind of blowback from the fans? Did the CBC ask you to tone anything down?
Not this time. Everyone was comfortable with our level of boundary-pushing at this stage. Even though it’s edgy for Murdoch, it’s still within the boundaries. It’s still just a suggestion.

What is your writing routine? Do you like to write episodes in the room with everyone there, or do you like to go off by yourself?
I’m actually all over the place. It depends on my mental state on any given day. I do need quiet, so being in the room is great in some ways and not so great in others. [Laughs.] If I have to write a script and we’re in the office I may take a day off to write at home or I’ll go off somewhere else to write, otherwise I’m not getting anything done. If we’re not at that stage, I might go to the library or the coffee shop or stay in bed. I’m all over the place.

I can’t pin down a routine. I live in anger and frustration. It’s horrible. I’m a horrible person to be around.

Let’s talk about the Canadian Film Centre. What has it meant to your career? I’m assuming everything.
Everything. If I hadn’t met Pete … I was at the CFC and was telling everyone how much I loved the show. I was really annoying. Pete told Paul Aitken I was a fan and passed him a sample of mine to read having no idea if they were even hiring. Then Pete ended up getting the job as the showrunner the following season and because I hadn’t shut up about how much I loved the show, he hired me on. I don’t know how I managed to get so lucky in such a short period of time.

Are you at the point where you’re pitching your own ideas for shows?
Yes and no. Yes, my agent would love me to be. No, I just haven’t had the time. This season in particular has been very busy for me.

What’s the best part of the job?
I love the research because we’re researching something different and unique and it’s Toronto history and I’m from here. I find out things that I grew up around that I didn’t know about. I joke that when I walk around the city I know more about Toronto in the early 1900s than I know about the city now.

Murdoch Mysteries airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBC.