Tag Archives: Simu Liu

Banff World Media Festival reveals 2021 Rockie Award gala recipients

From a media release:

The Banff World Media Festival (BANFF) is proud to unveil this year’s exciting lineup of the Rockie Award Gala recipients including Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan), Danielle Brooks (Mahalia, Orange is the New Black), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience), Sinking Ship Entertainment and the team from ARRAY (Selma, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open) represented by Ava DuVernay, Tilane Jones, Regina Miller, Tammy Garnes & Dee Tuck.

Hosting the Festival’s flagship awards program is Jasmeet Raina, one of Canada’s most popular comedic talents and YouTube personality. The Rockie Awards ceremony, including both the International Program Competition winners and the Rockies Gala honours will stream live on YouTube at 3pm ET on Tuesday, June 15th

Rockies Gala Awards to be bestowed include:

SIR PETER USTINOV AWARD: Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live, Kenan)

The award recognizes a creative talent who has made an outstanding comedic contribution to the media industry. Past honorees include: Sean Hayes, John Cleese, Tracey Ullman, Bob Newhart, Tantoo Cardinal, John Candy and Bill Hader.

Kenan Thompson is currently in his 18th season on Saturday Night Live as the show’s longest-running cast member. He also stars in and executive produces the new NBC comedy Kenan.

Thompson has made numerous contributions to SNL with his slew of hilarious impressions that include Rev. Al Sharpton, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey and David Ortiz, and by playing memorable characters such as DJ Dynasty Handbag, the scathingly fierce co-host of Deep House Dish, Weekend Update correspondent Jean K. Jean, Black Jeopardy host Darnell Hayes and Diondre Cole, the disruptive singing talk show host on the wildly popular sketch What Up With That. In 2018, he received the Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for the SNL song Come Back, Barack and was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2018 and 2020.  Thompson also received an Emmy nomination in 2017 for co-writing Last Christmas from the popular Jingle Barack sketch. 

A native of Atlanta, Thompson made his television debut as a member of Nickelodeon’s all-kid sketch comedy series All That. Thompson now serves as an executive producer on Nickelodeon’s 2019 All That reboot. He and Kel Mitchell debuted on the spinoff Kenan and Kel in 1996.

His past projects include Hubie Halloween, Snakes on a Plane, Wieners and The Magic of Belle Isle. Other feature film credits include Fat Albert, D2: The Mighty Ducks, Good Burger, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Brother Nature, Heavyweights, My Boss’s Daughter, Barbershop 2, Going in Style and They Came Together.

Thompson showcased his voice talents The Grinch, Trolls World Tour, Wonder Park, The Smurfs, The Smurfs 2 and Space Chimps, and Rock Dog, the television series Sit Down, Shut Up and The Awesomes. Upcoming projects include Paramount’s Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Disney+ Home Alone reboot.

A+E INCLUSION AWARD:  Danielle Brooks (Mahalia, Orange is the New Black)

The A+E Inclusion Award recognizes an individual whose efforts and vision in media champion and reflect the diversity of the world in which we live. Past Honorees include: LeVar Burton, Jonathan Murray and Elizabeth Vargas.

Danielle Brooks is best known for her role as “Tasha ‘Taystee’ Jefferson” in the Netflix Emmy-nominated series, Orange Is The New Black. The Hollywood Reporter included Brooks’ season 7 performance in their list of ‘The Best TV Performances of 2019.’ For her performance, Brooks was nominated for a NAACP Image Award for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series” as well as a Satellite Award for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture made for Television.” Danielle was also the recipient of the Young Hollywood Award for “Breakthrough Actress” and nominated for a NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series”. Brooks received the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series” three years in a row.

Brooks made her Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of The Color Purple. For her performance, she was nominated for a Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and received a Grammy Award and Theatre World Award for “Significant Broadway Debut.” 

Brooks most recently starred as ‘Mahalia Jackson’ in Robin Roberts Presents: The Mahalia Jackson Story on Lifetime. The biopic, directed by Kenny Leon, traced Jackson’s life and career as she became arguably the best-known gospel singer in the mid-20th century and a civil rights activist who sang at the 1963 March on Washington. Brooks is currently filming HBO Max’s Suicide Squad spin-off Series Peacemaker in which she will play ‘Leota Adebayo.

Brooks appeared in Netflix’s docuseries titled A Little Bit Pregnant The docuseries aired on Netflix’s YouTube and social media pages and followed Brooks’ pregnancy journey as she asked and answered all the questions on soon-to-be parents’ minds.

Recent work includes a leading role in Chris Morris’ Clemency opposite Alfre Woodard, Wendell Pierce and Aldis Hodge, a leading role in the independent feature All The Little Things We Kill, a leading role in the independent feature, Sadie opposite Melanie Lynsky, a series lead role in the upcoming TBS primetime animated series Close Enough, a recurring role on Aziz Ansari’s Emmy-winning, Netflix comedy series, Master of None and guest leading roles on HBO’s High Maintenance and Girls. Brooks also voiced two characters for Sony’s Angry Birds, and previously starred in Oren Moverman’s Time Out Of Mind and the independent feature, I Dream Too Much, which premiered at SXSW. 

Brooks released her four-track EP entitled Four in 2019. She co-wrote the four songs, which include “Seasons,” which was featured in the series finale of Orange Is The New Black.

In 2019, Brooks was one of the faces of Lane Bryant’s “I’m No Angel” Campaign alongside Ashley Graham and released a clothing line with Universal Standard. Danielle was the face of Christian Siriano’s debut Spring capsule collection for Lane Bryant and was the face of Lane Bryant’s Fall Campaign that same year.

Brooks is on the Artistic Board of Urban Arts Partnership, which advances the intellectual, social and artistic development of underserved public-school students through arts-integrated education programs to close the achievement gap.

Brooks grew up in South Carolina and is a graduate of The Julliard School. She currently resides in NYC.

CANADIAN AWARD OF DISTINCTION: Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Kim’s Convenience)

Presented by the Canada Media Fund (CMF/FMC) and MadeNous, the award is given to a Canadian whose body of work exemplifies outstanding achievement in the entertainment industry. Past Honorees include:  Just For Laughs, Eric McCormack, Kim Cattrall and Sheila Hockin.

Simu Liu is a Canadian-Chinese talent who is Marvel’s next leading man in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings opposite Tony Leung and Awkwafina. He most recently wrapped a leading role opposite Mark Wahlberg in Simon Cellan Jones/Lionsgate’s Arthur the King. He can be seen in Lissette Feliciano’s SXSW directorial debut, Women Is Losers.

He’s most well-known for his starring role as ‘Jung’ in the CBC/Netflix hit, Kim’s Convenience. Other credits include Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, Fresh Off the Boat, The Expanse, Designated Survivor, Taken, Blood & Water, and Orphan Black. He is an outspoken activist, passionate on Asian representation, identity and culture.

INNOVATIVE PRODUCER AWARD: Sinking Ship Entertainment (Dino Dana, Odd Squad, Endlings)

Presented by Lionsgate, the Innovative Producer Award recognizes the entrepreneurial excellence and achievements of an independent producer in TV/digital media. Past honorees include: Wattpad Studios, Scott Brothers Entertainment, New Metric Media, Wolf + Rabbit, Don Carmody and marblemedia.

Sinking Ship Entertainment is a multi-award-winning production, distribution, and interactive company specializing in family and kids’ live-action and CGI-blended content. Since its founding in 2004 by J.J. Johnson, Blair Powers and Matt Bishop, Sinking Ship has produced more than 17 series and 500 hours of content, distributed to more than 200 countries around the world. With a global reputation for quality, groundbreaking original series and companion interactive experiences, Sinking Ship has won 21 Daytime Emmy® Awards, including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Series for Dino Dan: Trek’s Adventures (Nickelodeon), Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing for Odd Squad (PBS KIDS), Outstanding Children’s or Family Viewing for Ghostwriter (Apple TV+) and Outstanding Education or Informational Series for Giver (ION). International awards include a 2019 BAFTA for Odd Squad and multiple Canadian Screen Awards, Youth Media Alliance Awards, Parents Choice Awards, the Shaw Rocket Prize, and the Prix Jeunesse International. In 2020, Sinking Ship was also named as the number one Kids’ Entertainment Production Company on Kidscreen’s Hot50 list. Among the series currently in production are the third season of the worldwide success, Odd Squad, as well as the upcoming new series, Jane, inspired by and co-produced alongside renowned primatologist Jane Goodall. Currently in pre-production is the series Builder Brothers Dream Factory, in partnership with Scott Brothers Entertainment. In addition to its critically-acclaimed productions, Sinking Ship operates a cutting-edge VFX and Interactive Studio, creating multi-platform digital experiences and interactive content for audiences around the globe. For more information, visit the Sinking Ship website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER IMPACT AWARD:  The team from ARRAY (Selma, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Lingua Franca) includingAva DuVernay, Tilane Jones, Regina Miller, Tammy Garnes & Dee Tuck

This award is bestowed annually to an individual or group who has made a significant and impactful contribution to screen-based entertainment. Past honorees include: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Shore, accepting on behalf of ​The Good Doctor; Anthony Anderson, accepting on behalf of ​black-ish; and Justin Simien accepting on behalf of Dear White People.

The narrative change non-profit organization ARRAY Alliance has launched ARRAY Crew, a personnel database for Hollywood’s below-the-line crew members with a special focus on the amplification of women, people of color and other underrepresented film and television professionals. Created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay and led by an all-women executive team, ARRAY Crew currently boasts nearly 6,000 crew members and more than 300 productions utilizing the database. Production partners have access to search and view profiles for diverse below-the-line talent, enabling hiring managers and line producers to find thousands of candidates across 500+ job titles in over 45 departments on a per project basis. ARRAY Crew is supported by every major studio and streaming service, including founding partner WarnerMedia, Amazon Studios, Apple TV+, FOX, Lionsgate, NBC Universal, Netflix, Paramount Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment, ViacomCBS and Walt Disney Studios. ARRAY Crew currently features U.S. based profiles with plans to expand to select international markets in late 2021.

“This year’s Rockies Gala honourees exemplify not just incredible work, but also contributions to the entertainment industry and to society,” said Jenn Kuzmyk, Executive Director of the Banff World Media Festival. “Each recipient has demonstrated excellence, innovation, creativity and empathy, making choices about the projects they work on and the impact that they can have on the world. We are honoured to recognize such outstanding talent.”    

Additional awards to be presented at the ceremony include:

PROGRAM OF THE YEAR: The Program of the Year award is presented to an outstanding, critically acclaimed, ground-breaking, and/or highly rated program from within the last calendar year. Past recipients include: This is Us, Handmaid’s Tale, Making a Murderer and Surviving R. Kelly.

THE GRAND JURY PRIZE: The Grand Jury Prize is awarded to the highest scoring project in the Rockies Program Competition by the festival’s specially appointed Grand Jury of industry executives. Past recipients include:  Big Little Lies, Planet Earth II and Sharp Objects.

In addition, the Festival is arranging virtual Rockie Awards Roundtables with select nominees from programs such as: Alone, Love on the Spectrum, Filthy Rich and Homeless, The Last Ice, Noughts + Crosses, I May Destroy You, About Sex, El Presidente and more. More details will be available in the coming weeks on the full agenda HERE.

Taking place online from June 14 – July 16, the Banff World Media Festival attracts the world’s top creators, producers, showrunners, talent, networks, studios, streamers, press, and media companies. The 2021 virtual edition of the Festival is poised to build on the success of last year’s virtual event, with an all-new purpose-built online platform that will facilitate thousands of real-time meetings, chat, personalized video suites, a project lounge, multiple events, keynotes, master classes and panels as well as a thriving online delegate lounge. It is the world’s most effective online market for development, co-productions, and business development, connecting the global media industry to ignite new projects and support new ventures.

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Kim’s Convenience: Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon preview Season 5

To say a lot has happened between Seasons 4 and 5 of Kim’s Convenience would be an understatement.

Aside from COVID-19 safety measures, there were two other major behind-the-scenes events. The first was Simu Liu landing the role of Shang-Chi in the Marvel movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The second was Paul Sun-Hyung Lee scoring a multi-episode arc on a little Star Wars spinoff called The Mandalorian. Luckily, all three events failed to derail Season 5 of Kim’s Convenience.

Returning Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBC, we spoke to Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Jean Yoon about the family facing one of its toughest challenges yet as they navigate a difficult medical diagnosis for Umma.

How did the pandemic affect production on Kim’s Convenience?
Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: Shooting during a pandemic, it’s not business as usual. The mere fact that we were able to go back to work, I think, was a huge win. I have to give huge props to the production team and the producers of Kim’s Convenience for creating a protocol, a COVID protocol designed with safety first. They had systems where the different departments were separated into different pods. There were different points of access for everybody where there wasn’t any cross mingling. We had PPE, checking procedures, all these different things that we had to go to these hoops to ensure our safety. And it was really, it was quite an adjustment period. It’s a different energy on set, your timing’s a bit thrown off. You can’t see anybody’s faces. As an actor, on top of having to play a scene, you’ve got to do your own final makeup touches and you have to reset your own props and you have to think about blocking … all these extra things. You’re doing three or four different jobs sort of at the same time.

Jean Yoon: [Before the pandemic] between shots, you’d have grips moving the lights at the same time, hair and makeup is chasing around trying to powder you, wardrobe, the director and the assistant directors. [During COVID-19 protocols] it was easier to keep your train of thought as an actor, which is really good because with all of these protocols, I do think on average we had fewer takes. And so you really wanted to make sure that you were right on.

Umma has a medical situation this season. Jean, what can you say about it?
JY: Any medical situation for a character in our age bracket is an opportunity to explore stories that are grounded in truth. The uncertainty of one’s health is something that is just … you pass 50 and the next thing you know, you’ve got to start watching your cholesterol and your sugar and how much exercise you’re getting. So that raises some real questions and the opportunity for those sorts of storylines based in that kind of dilemma is pretty rewarding. One thing about this show is that its strength is the relationships between family members and any kind of medical situation is going to bring up, it raises the stakes and it’s going to bring up questions and stories and emotions that are worth exploring.

There is a scene between yourselves and Andrea Bang that killed me. It was so emotional.
JY: Thank you. Yeah. Working with Andrea at any time, she’s so good. Oh, my god. She’s so good.

PSHL: You’re no slouch yourself, Jean.

JY: Let’s talk about how amazing Andrea Bang is, though. She’s got this ability to tap into this well of vulnerability that just blows me away. And I remember even in the first audition, like with we were camera testing a few people and Andrea had it right from the get-go.

Paul, what can you say about some of the storylines that are coming up in some of the things that this family is going to run into?
PSHL: Without giving away too much of the storylines. One of the things Andrew Phung and I always bug the writers about is like, we want more scenes together. We want to see Kimchee hang out a little bit more and not for only selfish reasons, although they are, because he’s my best friend. But it’s this whole idea of us hanging out together puts a bit of a strain on his relationship with Chung. It’s this neat little triangle that sort of happens. It’s always a pleasure to work with Andrew. I’m happy to say that there are scenes with Andrew this season that I’m quite happy about. But there are also some scenes with Simu that happened this season that I’m very, very happy about. With Simu going away and shooting that little boutique movie and then coming back, it was just like, ‘Hey, the family’s back together again.’ It just felt like, for that period of time, all was right in the world despite it being a dumpster fire in 2020. It was just this moment of happiness, where we were sitting there like, ‘Our son is home and that’s a lovely thing.’ So in terms of storylines, this is a season that is focused on the family, the relationships with each other and character growth.

JY: Simu came back and quarantined for two weeks and the way it worked out is we ended up having a week hiatus which was great. But then he had to shoot nine days in a row, basically 10 episodes of scenes. They had to bring in all three directors back and there were days where the morning would be one director and the afternoon would be another. He had to be incredibly disciplined and prepared, and boy was he ever. Yeah, it was great to have the family back together.

Kim’s Convenience airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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CBC’s Kim’s Convenience hits its stride in Season 3

You can feel it when a television show has found its legs. The characters are relatable and unforced, funny but not feeling strained. That’s the state Kim’s Convenience is in as it rolls into Season 3. And why not? The CBC sitcom—returning Tuesday at 8 p.m.—has a legion of Canadian fans behind it and is expanding worldwide thanks to Netflix, Amazon and a recent deal that will see the award-winning program debut in Korea. (A fourth season has already been greenlit, meaning the Kims and their friends are sticking around for awhile.)

When viewers tune in on Tuesday, they’ll see Appa (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) and Jung (Simu Liu) working together to right an Appa wrong before Umma (Jean Yoon) finds out. Spoiler alert: they don’t succeed. Meanwhile, Janet (Andrea Bang) is still fighting to be recognized as a bona fide artist and Kimchee (Andrew Phung) is the assistant manager at Handy Car Rental. The cast teased a bit of what this season has in store.

Over the last couple of seasons, Appa and Jung have come together on screen and they have been really big moments. Is it becoming more comfortable now, these two guys spending time together? The situation called for it in the first episode, and I feel as though there’s a softening towards each other. Is that the case?
Simu Liu: If you look at how Jung and Appa left off at the end of Season 2, it wasn’t necessarily a diffusing or anything. We certainly thought that there some sort of reconciliation in the works in the episode before, but then there’s a blow up that happens. It goes to illustrate that no family, no relationship like that is just going to repair itself because of one thing. The past is always going to influence how they are around each other.

I think that’s kind of the tone we’re going into the new season with. I think you will have moments where they’re together and it’ll be what it is, but it won’t be normalized.

Jean Yoon: They come together, they blow up. And they come together.

Paul Sun-Hyung Lee: You also see why they fight. When you see these interactions, you kind of go, ‘Oh!’ Because in Season 1, it’s like he ran away from home or he got kicked out. Why don’t they get along? I think that’s the by-product of seeing them sort of wanting to reach out. At the end of Season 2, you know there’s the desire’s there, but they just can’t do it…

SL: There’s so much history. It’s complicated.

JY: You see how much they are alike, and why as they come together and you get this friction.

PSHK: That’s the fun exploration of seeing that, ’cause it’s like, they’re together, you know they want to repair those things, that rift, but there’s just something fundamental about the makeup, because they are so similar to each other. They’re like magnets. Same poles.

Also, in the first episode back, Jung is faking that he’s going to the job, and then wanting to watch TV. It’s such a great storyline for a television show anyway, having the guy act like he’s been going to a job or school for months and months and months. 
SL: To be doing it so that, in part, because he doesn’t want to be embarrassed, of course. But in part also because he doesn’t want his best friend to feel bad about taking his job. I think he really starts the season in the lowest of the low moments.

What can you say about what Jung goes through this season?
SL: I mean, I can’t say too much. I think you see a little bit of it at the end of the first episode. It’s just him getting used to the fact that things aren’t going to be so easy for him. I think when we start in Season 1, it’s like by Episode 3 he’s the assistant manager. Dating seems to be not terribly difficult for him. Now it’s like, ‘No, you lost your chance with the girl that you really like. You lost your job. Your best friend’s the new assistant manager at Handy.’

Andrew Phung: You start seeing Kimchee and Jung’s relationship sort itself out, because there is a new balance between them. I think that was really fun. I think always in those early scripts, I see them, this is such an opportunity for us to see a switch in the character. To see the character evolve. We love seeing characters have highs and lows. We can see Kimchee’s high. He’s coming out, looking fresh, he’s multi-tasking. So you see that character change as well. That’s throughout the season.

It’s a real opportunity for this guy that’s been the laughing stock of the show in every scene for two seasons. I’m assuming that’s not going to totally change, but it is a great opportunity for him.
AP: Going back all the way to the first season. We were work-shopping the scenes. I was trying to figure out Kimchee, because I think [Paul and Simu] had a sense of … you knew your characters. You’d lived with your characters. Kimchee’s new. We came to this conclusion that Kimchee is a genius. He is the smartest guy in the room. He thinks he’s a genius. On the outside looking in, you’re like ‘What’s this guy doing?’ Kimchee’s like, ‘You’re an idiot for not thinking my way.’

It’s fun to see him evolve to now own this role of genius. Now he has power. He’s put it into the workplace, and just having the opportunity to play with Nicole [Power, as Shannon]. There are these wonderful scenes that we developed this relationship we never had. Now we’re peers in the workplace.

Jean, what about Umma and Appa?
JY: On the other side of the world, I think what happens in Season 3 that’s really satisfying is you see Umma and Appa, you see more facets of their relationship. These marital disputes that every couple has gone through. Power play, questions about division of labour and is equal the same as the same? No. Equal should mean I’m better. That kind of thing. Also, we see Appa and Jung and some really interesting episodes with Janet and some with Gerald and a lot of the characters that we’ve all come to love to visit the store…

PSHL: Pastor Nina, Mr. Mehta, Mr. Chin.

JY: Mr. Chin, Gerald, Chelsea, his girlfriend. Again, a lot of those themes seem to be about communication, about boundaries. The driving force is in the end, that you know no matter how bad the conflict is, that in the end, these characters really love each other. These are people who at the end of the day are going to somehow find it in the bottom of their souls to say they’re sorry. And they’ll mean it.

SL: We’re really hitting a comfort zone in our own work. Especially, I think about Andrew and I on our first day of Season 1, just coming to set and basically shaking as the camera’s rolling, because we were newcomers into the whole Kim’s Convenience world, and we just didn’t want to mess it up.

I think about how nervous we were and how anxious we were. How that followed through the entire first season and a bit into the second as well. But really I think what was different for me going into the third was I think you mentioned this confidence, this self-assuredness. But it was just, ‘OK, I have some idea of what this character is and what he does and why he thinks the way that he thinks.’ I feel like I can do the work. I feel like that really gives you room and permission to play and take risks. I think that’s when you get your best work in.

Kim’s Convenience airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC.

Images courtesy of CBC.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Vampires, a communist’s daughter and cosmetics-selling sisters seek 2018 IPF funding

It’s a year after our inaugural spotlight on web series seeking Independent Production Fund support, and the state of those series in Canada is booming. Projects like But I’m Chris Jericho, The Amazing Gayl Pile, Whatever, Linda, Space Riders: Division Earth and Inhuman Condition are just a few of the many that received IPF support in the past and have gone on to full-blown web and television series.

Established in 1991 to provide financial support for dramatic television series, the IPF was expanded in 2010 to include financing drama series for the web. That mandate has been extended indefinitely. The result? Dozens of trailers for potential projects have been posted on YouTube. Check them out here.

With a deadline of March 31 approaching, creators are looking for support via views and comments about their potential projects before the IPF makes their decision; in 2017 the IPF approved funding for 15 scripted series (10 in English and five in French); three were renewals for past projects with the other 12 being new ones. (One was My 90-Year-Old Roommate, starring Lauren Corber, Ethan Cole and Josh Schultz.)

Here are a few projects that caught our eye, as well as the links to some honourable mentions. Watch, click, comment and help them all gain funding!

 

The Series: Silver

The Creator(s): Simu Liu

The Idea: In the year 2025, a vampire named Reeve (Liu) works for a group called the Silver Corps—a paramilitary group charged with keeping vampires in check. Reeve ignores an order to kill a vampire child. Now his own organization is hunting them.

The Inspiration: Simu Liu has been looking to do something in the genre space for a long time. Inspired by the sci-fi and action projects he watched as a kid and a love of stunts, he combined them all into Silver. “When you attack something that is already out there and has been done, you want a fresh take on it,” he says. “Instead of having the vampires be these creatures that are respected and revered, they are the social outcasts and a stand-in for a lot of minority groups today and throughout history.”

The Plan: A 10-episode web series of 10 minutes each that Liu likens as a comic book on film: “A visually-driven story where every frame is beautiful.”

 

The Series: The Communist’s Daughter

The Creator(s): Leah Cameron

The Idea: Amid 1980s Canada, Dunyasha McDougald, the daughter of two Communists struggles with fitting in at high school and supporting her family’s beliefs.

The Inspiration: The Communist’s Daughter is loosely based on Cameron’s childhood: her father was a Communist during the 1980s. As a result—Cameron explains—the family car was a Lada, Soviet Life magazine was delivered to the door, and family vacations were to Cuba to “support the economy.” It was only looking back on her childhood that Cameron realized how odd—and funny—her life was. The trailer stars Jessica Holmes (Air Farce), Aaron Poole (Strange Empire), Bruce Novakowski (Inconceivable) and Hilary McCormack.

The Plan: Cameron’s creation will live on the web as 10- to 12-minute episodes; she’s got major plans for the family that takes advantage of a more serialized setup. “The father is going to run for election in a highly-embarrassing and highly public campaign,” Cameron says. “Which will make his daughter’s attempt to fit in at high school even harder and that needs a story arc.” Additionally, Cameron is excited to show Gen Xers and millennials who are interested in what Toronto looked like in the 1980s to actually see the city—and the diversity of its population—represented during that time.

 

The Series: Don’t Ask Alice (The Adventures of Collie and Doli)

The Creator(s): Connie Wang and Lakna Edilima

The Idea: Two millennials, Collie (Wang) and Doli (Edilima), offer new-age advice to fellow twentysomethings.

The Inspiration: Connie Wang and Lakna Edilima, friends since Grade 9 math class, weren’t getting the gigs (Wang in acting, Edilima in a writer’s room) in the Canadian TV industry they’d hoped for. After a night out cracking each other up, they decided to just create their own series. “Collie and Doli think they know everything,” Wang says. “At the time, Lakna and I thought we knew everything when we wrote it.”

The Plan: Season 1 of 12 webisodes of about five minutes each. Each one features a caller needing advice from Collie and Doli. The pair offer something outrageous to their caller … and then try out their own advice. “We find out that, ‘Oh, this doesn’t actually work.’ The moral of the story is, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t have called him that,’ or ‘Maybe I shouldn’t just assume that guys like that.'”

 

The Series: Beattie & Mae

The Creator(s): Melanie Leishman and Emily Coutts

The Idea: Two sisters, Beattie (Leishman) and Mae (Coutts), find themselves recruited by a competitive direct-sales cosmetics company in the fashion-and-feminism influenced world of 1997.

The Inspiration: The friends were commiserating over their shared past of being initiated by places and friends in multi-level marketing companies. The sales technique was ripe for humour, Leishman says, and the show grew from there while embracing feminism, relationships and the 1990s. “We get to the root of Beattie and Mae’s relationship and their relationship to the company,” Coutts says. The specific decade was chosen, Leishman explains, because it was before the Internet and recruitment changed to online. It also serves as a backdrop to two women coming of age.

“Feminism has come a long way in the last 20 years,” Leishman says. “The pop culture world of 1997 seemed like a hilarious place to set these two women as they try to figure out who they are in the big city for the first time.”

The Plan: An eight-episode web series of seven-minute instalments is the first step for Beattie & Mae, with a long-term goal of an adaptation for television. A main event occurs in each episode, Leishman says, with the focus on the sisters dealing with that incident differently.

 

Honourable mentions

The Motorcycle Project
Two half-sisters (played by Elise Bauman and Humberly González) go on a wild and crazy adventure across South America in search of the truth behind their sister’s mysterious death.

The Has Been
Amy Jo Johnson (Flashpoint), writes, directs and stars in this project about a bankrupt former A-list actress who attends ComicCon to raise the funds needed to pay off her debts.

What Got Did
Created by Grace Lynn Kung and Rob Shapiro, Paige Ho will stop at nothing to turn ParKer into the next great startup in Silicon Valley North. The only thing standing in her way? Pretty much everything.

Super Zee
An action comedy about a queer Black superhero (Sedina Fiati), who swoops in to save her woman crush (Christina Song), from microaggressions at the office.

Detention Adventure
A group of sixth graders get themselves put into detention so they can explore the tunnels under their school.

Swings
A mockumentary about two co-dependant best friends Kevin (Kevin Vidal) and Christian (Christian Smith) serving as the “swings” (musical understudies) for a giant Broadway-level production of Nickelback The Musical.

The After Party Girls
The partially true, completely embarrassing stories of best friends Jules (Cheyenne Mabberley) and Fiona (Katey Hoffman), who are determined to become popular and the life of the party.

Held
Megan Follows directs and Alanna Bale and Kristopher Turner both star in this psychological suspense series written by Alison Bingeman and based on Edeet Ravel’s novel.

The Six
Six inner city teens chase success in rap stardom, basketball fame, fashion design, drug running, self-worth and independence on the streets of Toronto.

Hospital Show
Follows the damaged actors and actresses who play doctors on Critical Condition. Created by and starring Adam G. Reid alongside co-stars Sara Canning and Adrian Holmes.

Ming’s Dynasty
Two Toronto rappers are stuck running a Chinese restaurant in smalltown Alberta. Will they chase the beats or the eats?

Queens
A peek at the drag scene through the eyes of an eclectic group of drag queens as they prep to compete in the “Miss Church Street Pageant.”

Image Killer
A gallows humour series about a serial killer who hunts down arrogant social media personas in the vein of Scream Queens meets Fargo.

Group
A dramatic comedy about the people involved in a goal-setting group at a big-city addiction research clinic.

 

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