Joy Loewen, NSI Totally Television program manager, on this year’s boot camp training

Kirsten Madsen, Samantha Traub, Kerry Appleyard, Kelly Milner, Gemma Holdway, Alexandra Caulfield, Jon Mann and Rob Ramsay

Above from left: Kirsten Madsen, Samantha Traub from Boat Rocker Media, Kerry Appleyard from Temple Street, Kelly Milner, Gemma Holdway, Alexandra Caulfield, Jon Mann and Rob Ramsay

Writer: “Yes, yes, yes!”
Producer: “… this is so good!”

These are sweet words to an NSI program manager’s ears – especially on day three of a six-day intensive boot camp.

At the National Screen Institute we pride ourselves on delivering relevant, customized and high-quality professional development training to enhance each student’s skill set and further develop their project.

Having just completed phase one boot camp with the newest NSI Totally Television teams, I’m riding a high.

The teams – DeGeneration (producer Alexandra Caulfield, writer Gemma Holdway), Thin Ice (producer Kelly Milner, writer Kirsten Madsen) and Wolfville (producer Rob Ramsay, writer Jon Mann) – are creative, hardworking and serious about getting their TV concepts made.

In the revered words of Denis McGrath, “… stories reach people. Lots of people. So they matter.” I couldn’t agree more. Hence story development is at the heart of NSI Totally Television boot camp and is where our training begins.

Over the course of the week we move from one-on-one work with story editors carefully selected to match both the team and their project to a mix of one-on-one biz affairs sessions, case studies and pitch prep.

With Riley Adams (far left) and Kenneth Hirsch (far right) from Thunder 21

Above: With Riley Adams (far left) and Kenneth Hirsch (far right) from 21 Thunder

One of the serendipitous highlights of this year’s intensive was having our annual network panel with development executives the day after Netflix announced a $500 million investment to produce Canadian content. It was an incredible (unplanned) benefit to hear the network execs’ thoughts on how this deal would impact Canadian content creators and the industry as a whole while the news was so fresh.

Our week ended with a series of roundtable sessions where each team met several industry friendlies (executive producers, agents, distributors) to introduce themselves and their projects.

I had a giddy kind of contentment walking around the room hearing snippets of various roundtable conversations. Clearly there was measurable growth.

The story concepts were stronger as a result of the story development work, the teams’ clarity presenting their concept and introducing themselves improved due to the pitch prep and market intel sessions, and their overall confidence was bolstered by the support and encouragement offered by all guest presenters. Best of all, seeds for follow-up work and meetings were firmly planted, leaving everyone feeling energized and hopeful.

With pitching expert Mickey Rogers (far left), Beverley Bettens from Bell Media (middle) and Carolyn Allain from National Bank (far right)

Above: With pitching expert Mickey Rogers (far left), Beverley Bettens from Bell Media (middle) and Carolyn Allain from National Bank (far right)

Boot camp is officially over but the work doesn’t stop. Each team is now responsible for using the information and experiences gleaned from the sessions to fuel their next steps towards the ultimate goal of landing a development deal. I can’t wait to see and hear more from each team.

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