In pictures: program advisor Gail Harvey on the Corus Diverse TV Director boot camp 2016

Above from left: (top row) Jill Carter, Tarique Qayumi, Elise Swerhone, Stacey Curtis, Dawn Wilkinson, Jerry Cicoritti, Clement Virgo and Don Shebib, (bottom row) Adam Garnet Jones, Tanya Lemke, Tricia Lee, Gail Harvey and Amy Jo Johnson

Above from left: (top row) Jill Carter, Tarique Qayumi, Elise Swerhone, Stacey Curtis, Dawn Wilkinson, Jerry Cicoritti, Clement Virgo and Don Shebib; (bottom row) Adam Garnet Jones, Tanya Lemke, Tricia Lee, Gail Harvey and Amy Jo Johnson

See also: program manager Elise Swerhone’s blog post | the student’s blog posts

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The Corus Media Diverse TV Director boot camp in association with the National Screen Institute began in Toronto on Thursday June 9 at the Director’s Guild of Canada.

Elise Swerhone, the program manager and me (Gail Harvey, program advisor) designed the program following the success of last year’s boot camp (with a few tweaks). We picked five very skilled director participants from a large number of applicants: Tarique Qayumi, Amy Jo Johnson, Tricia Lee, Tanya Lemke and Adam Garnet Jones.

They were immersed right away on day one with a panel of very successful television directors. Stacey Curtis, Dawn Wilkinson, Jerry CicorittiClement Virgo and Jill Carter shared their experiences. I moderated the panel.

Day one

Dawn Wilkinson, Jill Carter, Jerry Cicoritti, Gail Harvey, Stacey Curtis and Clement Virgo

Above from left: Dawn Wilkinson, Jill Carter, Jerry Cicoritti, Gail Harvey, Stacey Curtis and Clement Virgo

Our first panel.

Above from left: Jill Carter, Dawn Wilkinson (hidden), Jerry Cicoritti and Stacey Curtis

Renowned Canadian director Don Shebib, the director of one of the most famous Canadian films, Goin’ Down The Road, was next up.

Don Shebib

Above: Don Shebib

Goin’ Down the Road is a key 1970 Canadian film directed by Don, and co-written by William Fruet and Don.

It follows the lives of two young men from the Maritimes to Toronto, chronicling their hopes of finding a better life. It stars Doug McGrath, Paul Bradley, Jayne Eastwood and Cayle Chernin.

Despite the lack of a large production budget, the movie is generally regarded as one of the best and most influential Canadian films of all time and has received considerable critical acclaim for its writing, directing and acting. Don shared the ins and outs of his career.

Next up was one of the best agents in the country, Brent Sherman from The Characters Talent Agency.

Brent Sherman

Above: Brent Sherman

Brent was very honest about the difficulties of getting work in television in Canada in 2016. Some of the information was tough to swallow but it’s necessary to know the realities of the world you’re entering.

Day two

First up on day two, director/producer (and NSI Totally Television grad) Sudz Sutherland arrived with his suitcase – just off the red eye from Los Angeles, where he had been meeting agents. ☺

Hot off editing his CBC show Shoot the Messenger – airing October 10 2016 – Sudz gave us insights into how he started and how he has made it as a director/producer. He shared how he got his start and the obstacles he faced.

Later that morning he was joined by producers Susan Alexander, Paula J. Smith and Helen Asimakis. They spoke about what they look for in a director when they’re hiring for television series. Paula even had a top ten list of what makes a good director. ☺

Susan Alexander, Paula J. Smith, Helen Asimakis and Sudz Sutherland

Above from left: Susan Alexander, Paula J. Smith, Helen Asimakis and Sudz Sutherland

Below, our team with day two’s morning panel.

Susan Alexander, Paula J. Smith, Helen Asimakis, Sudz Sutherland, Tarique Qayumi, Amy Jo Johnson, Tricia Lee, Tanya Lemke and Adam Garnet Jones

In the afternoon we had the art of directing series with Larysa Kondracki.

Larysa has had huge success directing television in Canada and the US. She was very pragmatic about explaining how you have to behave but also spoke about the art of filmmaking even in a television series situation. An amazing afternoon.

Larysa Kondracki

Above: Larysa Kondracki

Day three

Tim Southam day – Tim spent the morning talking about how he got where he is in his career … the director/producer on Bates Motel!

He was very candid about the challenges he overcame and how he maintains his success as a director.

In the afternoon he went through his prep on a show and was very generous sharing all his shot lists, script breakdowns and style of working.

Tim shared all his workbooks and scripts for everything he has directed, showing the participants how he organizes and how he approaches the POV in a scene, screening lots of scenes from Bates Motel and other shows he has directed. Amazing!

Elise Swerhone and Tim Southam

Above: Elise Swerhone and Tim Southam

Above: Watching Tim

Day four

Darren Cranford told us everything about viz-effects including pre-viz.

Paul Day joined us – drove in from London after his high school reunion.

Paul is one of the best editors in Toronto. He recently directed his first episode of network television: Dark Matter. A very interesting perspective about what he found when he moved from the editor’s chair to the director’s chair.

He also invited all our directors to visit him in the editing room on the show Expanse.

Paul Day

Above: Paul Day, editor extraordinaire

This year we went back to Tommy Chang’s studio. Last year was a huge success with our directors learning the intricacies of stunt directing with stunt man Tommy Chang and myself.

Tommy Chang

Above: At Tommy Chang’s studio

The director participants took turns shooting scenes in various ways on their cell phones. It was an incredible afternoon filled with ideas, creative discussion and war stories from Tommy.

Day five

Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski shared her immense knowledge of social media and how to market yourself to our directors.

Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski

Above: Top Toronto publicist Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski

Ellen Van Stone shared her experience being a TV series writer and working with directors.

Above: Ellen Van Stone

In the afternoon the formidable first AD Mark Pancer came in.

Mark Pancer

Above: Mark Pancer

I worked with Mark on my last show and felt he was the best first AD I had ever worked with.

He and I went through what was the most difficult show either of us had worked on, The Other Kingdom, now airing on Nickelodeon and Family Channel, and shared all our experiences and showed clips of the most difficult scenes.

Mark spent all afternoon letting our participants know what makes a good director and what makes things difficult.

Day six

Michael Kennedy day – Michael is a top Canadian director who travels the country working on endless TV shows.

Michael Kennedy

Above: Michael Kennedy

He shared his work, broke down scenes and included the participants in wonderful discussions about how to make the best TV show possible.

Michael also talked about the breakdown of scripts and shared war stories about his life.

He gave our directors tools they’ll need when they hit the floor. Then the actors came in.

Chloe Rose, Sugith Varughese, Steven Yaffee and Rachel Wilson

Above from left: Chloe Rose, Sugith Varughese, Steven Yaffee and Rachel Wilson

Each of our directors directed a scene with our professional actors. A learning experience with input from Michael, myself and the actors.

Chloe Rose, Adam Garnet Jones and Sugith Varughese

Above from left: Chloe Rose, Adam Garnet Jones and Sugith Varughese

The amazing Michael Kennedy (below).

Michael Kennedy, Sugith Varughese, Chloe Rose and Adam Garnet Jones

Above from left: Michael Kennedy, Sugith Varughese, Chloe Rose and Adam Garnet Jones

Throughout the six days I shared everything I could with the five amazing participants. Shot lists, websites, demo reels, tips for working with actors, producers, writers, editors, the politics of directing – how I did it and how I do it now.

The five participants were all very strong, with successful film careers (having all made films that had been launched at many film festivals).

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Corus Diverse TV Director is supported by Presenting Sponsor Corus Entertainment; Industry Partner DGC Ontario; and Supporting Sponsors Entertainment OneSuper Channel, Breakthrough Entertainment and the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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