CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2017 – final words from the students

Presented by the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI)

Above: CBC New Indigenous Voices class of 2017 at their graduation with NSI staff, Ginny Collins from Manitoba Film & Music, NSI CEO John Gill, Hon. Rochelle Squires Riel. Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage and Robert-Falcon Ouellette

Our CBC New Indigenous Voices students recently graduated after 14 weeks of classroom training, film production and an industry internship.

We asked them to write one last post about their experience with us.

• • •

Tyshana Hobson – Winnipeg

Tyshana Hobson

The internship portion of this course was the best thing I’ve experienced yet.

I spent time in the production office and on the set of TV show Channel Zero.

The people in the office and on set were the nicest, most welcoming group for a newcomer like me. While on set, I was put behind the monitors with the showrunner, director of photography and the coolest continuity lady ever.

Thank you Channel Zero, a huge thank you to the CBC New Indigenous Voices program and everyone involved.

To my classmates: I’d like to thank you for being the greatest, most fun group I have had the pleasure of getting to know inside and out.

The hardest part of this whole course were the goodbyes during our last dinner together as classmates and family. I hope to hang out with everyone soon.


Jesse Spence – Winnipeg

Jesse Spence

My internship with Eagle Vision gave me new respect for all positions on a professional TV set, especially for the guys I worked alongside.

Life as an electric was tough, fast and dangerous: balancing on high ladders; muscling up an 18k light (which is huge by the way); getting eaten alive by mosquitoes; plugging in high voltage seaway cable which, if done incorrectly, could literally end your life; getting cuts and bruises from falling objects; heavy equipment; squeezing into tight places; sharp objects; the glaring sun; the crazy work hours (14 hours plus) that cause you to wake up at 4:30 a.m. just to make it to set on time; people battling for respect; tired, hungry and angered filmmakers running around in sheer chaos. That’s about it in a nutshell!

The people on sets like these have earned my utmost respect as they work these long days in stressful environments but still manage to love what they do and keep smiling … as long as they have coffee first.

Speaking of coffee, it saved my damn life. Coffee is a beautiful creation that blesses your soul. Working on a TV set returned me to my caffeine addiction since we were often on the road before the sun came up. Before this internship, I ran on green tea and water but reverted back to shaky hands, tired eyes, coffee and a sudden urge to go for a morning sprint.

For me, coffee is a double-edged sword. At times it’s exactly what I need: waking me up and filling me with much needed energy. On the other hand it can make me extremely shaky, increase my social anxiety, make me more tired and regret my choice. It definitely didn’t help that catering had the best coffee machine ever, making the perfect cup of joe every time.

To all those who welcomed me with open arms and took time out of their busy work schedule to make me feel part of the team, I thank you.

Through NSI I was also given the opportunity to write and direct my first official short film alongside fellow students (and now friends) Andy Lown and Alexis Leask. They couldn’t be a better fit and team JAA will live on forevah.

Making my film was actually pretty chill and fun. Everyone involved was amazing and I was extremely grateful to have every single one of them present.

The cast and crew along with our mentor Andrew Forbes all helped in the making of Forgotten. I couldn’t ask for a more passionate and talented group of people to have at my side throughout this journey.

Being a director was nerveracking and exhilarating. When I first heard I would direct the script I wrote for the course I was scared I wouldn’t be able to pull it off but I knew it was all just in my head.

As the days ticked down and we got closer to the actual shooting all those fears flooded back. “How will I pull this off?” I asked myself. As soon as I entered the room and saw everyone’s smiling faces, it just clicked.

Once again, I feared the worst when there was absolutely nothing to fear. It all came down to just giving it my best shot and putting my trust in those around me. As we started shooting I couldn’t stop smiling. It was truly an amazing experience to see my script come to life.

I’m proud of what I’ll be walking out of this course with: good contacts, new friends, professional film set experience, knowledge shared by our mentors, a film under my belt, directing and screenwriting tips to help future projects, hands-on experience and a place I’ll miss.

All my fellow classmates have done a lovely job on their individual films. The last thing I want to say is: Nikita, Ryan, Mike, Tyshana, Alexis, Chris, Gindalee and Andy, I wish you the best of luck in your future and couldn’t be more proud of each of you. Oh, and keep in touch, eh?


Nikita Weiss Day – Telkwa, BC

Nikita Weiss Day

My time with the CBC New Indigenous Voices program is difficult to put into words. The connections I’ve made and the experiences we all had were beyond any and all expectations I had.

While I look back very fondly on my time in the classroom phase, it was the internship phase of the program, in particular, that served to give me a very real world look into the business of filmmaking and placed me as close to the action as one could possibly get.

For my internship, I, along with my fellow classmate Alexis Leask, were placed at Inferno Pictures to work on an action film for Netflix. I had never even gotten close to a production of this magnitude and consequently found myself awestruck nearly every day by the events around me.

It would have been very easy to find myself lost in the fray of the big movie business, however, we were lucky enough to have one of the production coordinators take us under her wing and act as our guardian. It can’t have been an easy task finding places for us to be every day but she always managed to keep tabs on us and made sure we were always kept busy. For making this experience as comfortable as possible for us, I’m really grateful to her.

The majority of our time actually ended up being spent in the wardrobe department where we were trained as breakdown artists. Luckily the film, being a post-apocalyptic disaster of sorts, gave us a lot of room to develop our skills. The other ladies working in wardrobe also spent a lot of their own time teaching us the tips and tricks of this craft and ended up offering us jobs at the end of our internship.

One of the most rewarding experiences was getting to sit in on the pre-production meetings. Surrounded by some of the best in the business, we listened to them work through problems that I would have never even thought of. Yet even this paled in comparison to actually getting to be on set. To say it sparked my own creative drive would be an understatement.

It has been a crazy and often challenging six weeks. The absolute dedication and countless hours of work that every person on this film put in, from the PAs to the producers, was so inspiring if not a little daunting at times. There were even days where I questioned if this was an industry that I could find happiness working in.

However, I know that my time at Inferno Pictures was a blessing. Moving forward with my life and career I know now what I can expect and what it will actually look like should I achieve my dreams. I haven’t changed my mind about what I want to do, and I feel like this reality check of sorts has better prepared me for what’s to come. And though it’s a bit scary, I’m also pretty excited.


Andy Lown – Fort Erie, ON

Andrew Lown

The last three weeks have been mighty intense! That’s because I started my internship at Media RendezVous. I worked as a lead production assistant on Hit the Ice season 6 which airs on APTN in February.

I met production manager Lili on my first day and she was super nice which was a great start. My first task was shopping for a key episode. It was a medieval episode and I was calling all the costume shops in the city to track down some costumes. This was a lot of fun.

I did all the pre-shopping for food and the hockey player’s dorm rooms. This set the tone for what I would be doing for the next three weeks. I logged a lot of driving hours around Winnipeg shopping for very detailed groceries and props. This gave me a good perspective on what goes into a television episode and production.

We worked 10 days in a row when the production first started averaging 12-14 hours per day. You have to be very disciplined and committed while working these hours on your internship. Sleep is a key element. Also, great food is very important. We had an amazing catering service and I was in charge of setting up the craft service table of healthy food with the occasional batch of chocolate chip cookies thrown in. We also had the pleasure of eating at Stella’s and the Spaghetti Factory.

We visited so many beautiful spots in Winnipeg. We went to a farm in Anola for goat yoga, Saint Malo, Thunder Rapids Go Karts and so many other wonderful locations. We spent the bulk of our time shooting at the very beautiful Jonathan Toews Arena.

I really can’t say enough nice things about my production managers Eve and Lili. They were both very nice to me. The director Jason and his whole crew were all great people and I enjoyed working with everyone. I learned so much being on my first TV production.

I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity. I consider myself very lucky to be one of the nine students from across Canada. The CBC New Indigenous Voices program is one of the best experiences of my life. I highly recommend any student travelling from other provinces to come to Winnipeg. It truly is a wonderful place to live.


Gindalee Ouskun – Winnipeg

Gindalee Ouskun

This summer has been insane – in a good way of course.

When I first learned about my internship placement at CBC, I was both excited and nervous because I wanted to do well and leave a good impression. Many people I talked to told me that the nerves were good. I didn’t think so.

I arrived at CBC Radio and didn’t know what to expect. During my first morning meeting, I quickly realized everyone was on my side and wanted me to get a good experience out of my three weeks with them.

I started my placement with Manitoba current affairs seeking stories for Information Radio, Radio Noon, Up to Speed and The Weekend Morning Show. There, I produced scripts for the shows. I was hesitant to write scripts because I was learning a completely new way [to write] in such a short time period. Within the first week I had produced two stories – many more to follow.

It was an amazing experience working on the radio side. This was the first time I was exposed to it and quickly fell in love. I never would have thought I’d enjoy writing for radio until this summer. I was welcomed by friendly faces encouraging me to ask questions about anything.

The remaining weeks I spent my time with CBC Indigenous. It was a wonderful experience because I put my article-writing skills to the test. Again, I was excited and nervous because I wanted to leave a good impression. I’m thankful I was lucky enough to write a published article during my time.

I’ve learned so much working in both areas at CBC – it could not have been a better placement. With everything I have learned in university and at NSI, I was comfortable (after some time) writing and pitching stories to the senior producers.

I look forward to what the future holds for me. This entire summer has opened up many opportunities I wasn’t aware of. With the new skills I have, I do believe anything is possible now. I hope I can step back into the CBC office to continue to develop and write stories for all – but we’ll see.


Alexis Leask – Winnipeg

Alexis Leask

Whoa, where do I even begin?

My internship placement was with Inferno Pictures, working on a Netflix feature film. A fellow classmate (Nikita) also interned with me.

The first five weeks was pre-production, so we helped with tons of different types of shenanigans, and hopped from department to department getting a feel for the varied type of work that goes into the art of creating a film.

The production manager always had a game plan for every day, from washing dishes to filing papers to shadowing different departments – she always had something for us. We lent a helping hand to the costume department, scenic/paint department, the director of photography, SPFX department, art department and props department.

I spent the most time with the costume department working alongside the breakdown artist. We helped her break down different types of clothing, making them look worn and ruined by dirt/soot/ash. She also showed us how to break down brand new shoes and make them look like they’ve been worn for a few years. It was a very interesting process. I have immense respect for the costume department after working with them.

During the last week, we got to experience being on set. The hustle and bustle of it all was great. Seeing how everyone respected each other and worked collaboratively was inspiring. I honestly didn’t want this internship to end. It was very eye opening.

I want to say miigwetch to Ursula Lawson (program manager), Kaya Wheeler (program coordinator) and the rest of the staff over at NSI. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to put all the knowledge I gained from the classroom to use in an actual film setting, and for letting me take a step closer to my filmmaking dreams. This was the greatest learning experience, and I’ll continue to rave about it for a while – miigwetch.


Chris Eastman – Winnipeg

Chris Eastman

My internship started with a hiccup in that my original placement fell through. I spent my first week at the NSI office helping prepare content for our grad, along with Tyshana Hobson who was to intern on the same production. Ursula Lawson did some of her magic and quickly found us another production to work on, which I was to begin the next week.

I was super nervous to start. It was a new place and new people. But I feel very lucky. Everyone I met working at GEP CZ Inc. was super friendly and helpful.

I was assigned to work in the costume department with the possibility of switching to other departments. In the end I stayed with costumes throughout and am very glad I did. It was often mentioned that the work I was doing wasn’t glamorous and possibly boring, but I enjoyed it and saw that it helped out the department who were grateful to have me around.

I got to see some of the sets in the studio during their construction, was able to observe while different departments discussed how to best pull off a gag for a scene and was on set in the studio while some scenes were shot.

On my last week I got to experience what it was like to be part of the on-set crew for three days doing night shoots outside the city.

On our first day out there it was super hot but when it cooled down it turned into mosquito-land. Thankfully it ended up getting cold enough that they went away until sunrise. I was glad to have Tyshana working on the shoot – a 1 a.m. lunch meal wouldn’t have been the same without her!

As I write this, our internship phase is over, but I have been offered the chance to continue assisting the costume department which I have gladly accepted. I look forward to it and building IATSE hours until I return to school in the fall. I would like to thank everyone from NSI that makes this program happen and arranges for us to have such awesome opportunities. I’d also like to thank everyone at GEP CZ Inc. for being so welcoming and kind.


Michael Black – Winnipeg

Michael Black

When I found out I would be interning on the new CBC series Burden of Truth I was ecstatic. I am a huge fan of the work done by Lisa Meeches, Kyle Irving and Tyson Caron and through interning on this show I was privileged to actually be part of their work.

I was lucky to be in the locations department because it allowed me to see the different departments and their daily routines on set.

When I first started it took a bit of getting used to because everything was so fast paced – things definitely move quickly on set. As a newbie/intern I was a bit intimidated. This didn’t last long though since everyone was so welcoming and willing to teach me.

I greatly enjoyed working with and am thankful to NSI alumni Darcy Waite (CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI IndigiDocs). He acted as a mentor to me and showed me the ins-and-outs of the locations department. I would also like to thank Cathie, Cliff, Noah, Jody and Luke for being so accommodating, helping me out and teaching me so much. I was offered a position in the locations department and I am so excited to be part of this awesome team.

Working on a big set for a major network television series has truly opened my eyes. The amount of detail required is incredible. I was shocked by the amount of people and work that occurs on set.

It was awesome to see people with diverse specialties and skills coming together to create a work of art. As an intern I worked eight-hour days and by the end of the day I was exhausted – many crew members work even longer.

We worked in the sweltering heat and pouring rain. I now have a deep appreciation for the work that these guys and gals do. I know it will all be worth it when I get to see the end result when the show premieres in winter 2018. I’ll definitely have a viewing party for it – it will be so cool to see it all come together.

During my time on set I got to network with people in many different specialties. I especially liked talking with the camera guys – finding out their techniques and how to get the perfect shot (they suggested practice, practice, practice and that is what I intend to do).

As things are wrapping up with the course I am reflecting on my time with NSI. I am so lucky to have been part of this and sincerely thank Lisa Meeches, Ursula Lawson, Kaya Wheeler, my classmates, the CBC New Indigenous Voices sponsors and everyone who has made this course possible. I have made life-long friendships, developed essential and relevant skills and have been exposed to amazing opportunities. It is my hope that one day I can be a mentor to future CBC New Indigenous Voices grads.


Ryan Wilson – Winnipeg

Ryan Wilson

The first day of my internship with Jeff Newman’s film production company Nüman Films was a bit daunting. I thought about the new people I would have to meet and impress. I thought about what kind of people I would be working with (in a personality sense). I wondered if they would all be okay letting in an outsider from a project that’s been in the works for a long time.

Once I was there everyone welcomed me with open arms. The work they gave me was very stressful but they were there to help every step of the way.

Jeff greeted me at the door. I showed up 15 minutes early. He gave me a fast tour of the production office. I got to meet producer Jocelyn Mitchell. She was so intimidating but as soon as she started talking to me she was just the most lovely person. She helped me so much for the first couple of weeks with things I had no idea about. I learned so much about how to work as a producer. And she gave me some great advice on making a great one pager.

I also got to work with a new production coordinator, John Sutton. The dude is an absolute machine. He never stops thinking about work but also has the greatest sense of humor. He saved my butt a few times with certain things regarding scheduling.

I also got to work with some familiar faces. NSI grad Justina Neepin (CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI IndigiDocs) was a PA on the show and Andrew Forbes was one of the camera operators. It was so great to see them again.

I got to meet an array of other hardworking people within the filmmaking industry, like production manager Ian Bawa. Ian is a machine, constantly thinking about how to make everything run as smoothly as possible. It was actually pretty inspiring to watching the dude solve problems on the fly. Actually everyone working at Nüman Films was super inspirational. It was incredible to see what goes on behind the scenes of a huge production.

I was so happy the team allowed me to secure a location outside Manitoba. It helped the show so much and they all made me feel like I was super important to the team.

I got hired until the end of the show which shocked the heck out of me. I was so excited when I got hired. I literally jumped up and down. I was hoping to get hired but had no expectations. So I was super surprised.

One week during my internship I couldn’t attend because I somehow scratched my corneas and couldn’t see anything for an entire week. It was the bane of my existence. I felt horrible not being able to help but Jocelyn understood and told me everything would be fine and encouraged me to heal. After I was healed I showed up at work and Jocelyn made me feel very missed. The whole thing was just such an incredible learning experience.

I am extremely grateful to NSI and Nüman Films for getting me this incredible opportunity that is also my first experience on a production this intense, amazing and fun.

I will tell everyone who wants to be part of this amazing industry to apply to NSI because if it wasn’t for them I would have never known or had the chance to work on a project like this – a project with a subject that is extremely close to my heart. I can’t wait until this airs.

Thank you to everyone that made this journey the most informative, amazing, loving and incredible.

• • •

CBC New Indigenous Voices is funded by: Title, Presenting and Tuition Sponsor CBC; Program Partners Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (CAHRD) and Telefilm Canada; NSI Indigenous Training Programs Partner Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries; Supporting Sponsors Entertainment OneSuper ChannelCorus EntertainmentBreakthrough Entertainment and imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Industry Partner the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); and Service Sponsor William F. White. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture and Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

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