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The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is a charitable, not-for-profit organization with headquarters in Winnipeg.

We are Canada’s national film, television and digital media training school for writers, directors and producers. We know from experience that the best way to learn is by doing.

Our market-driven courses have led to successful careers for graduates by strengthening their skills and giving them a competitive edge. According to our 2013 alumni survey, 87% of respondents are working in the film and TV industry.

  • Courses are led by experts in film, television and digital media, who deliver workshops and seminars and mentor participants.
  • Participants do not have to move away from home.
  • Each course is intensive. Participants learn in one centre for a short period and then return home to work with mentors on their projects under the leadership of the program manager.

Find out about all the courses provided by the National Screen Institute.

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After 30 years of training, NSI continues to develop and deliver courses to meet the industry’s needs.

We develop projects that:

  • appeal to Canadians
  • have commercial appeal
  • help advance careers that will grow the Canadian industry and contribute to regional and national economies, stimulating employment for the long term.

NSI leads in the design and delivery of programs that provide training to Canada’s visible minority and Indigenous screen professionals.

Through our website and the NSI Online Short Film Festival, NSI also commits to showcasing Canadian short films and providing professional development resources online.

NSI’s business structure

A board of directors (up to 15 members), currently chaired by media and broadcasting consultant Norm Bolen, oversees the operations of NSI.

NSI’s funding sources

For fiscal 2015-16, NSI derived 65% of its total revenues from corporate sponsorships demonstrating the industry’s support of our initiatives.

Another 6% came through earned revenues from our programs and the remaining 29% resulted from various government and agency sources, and foundations.

New streams of revenue continue to be explored.

NSI’s mission

NSI’s mission is to be the leader in developing award-winning content creators. We will always deliver training that is current, relevant and of the highest standard.

NSI’s vision

Excellence in storytelling.

1984: the organisation gets its start

In 1984, filmmakers from coast to coast converged in Edmonton, and at the first Local Heroes Film Festival they showcased independent Canadian short films and features from around the world.

Those Canadian filmmakers wanted to strengthen the distinct regional voices across the country, and they discussed training strategies for filmmakers to tell their stories without having to move to Toronto, Vancouver or Montreal.

The result of this first meeting was DramaLab, a hands-on professional development program for writers, directors and producers.

For the next two years, emerging professional filmmakers honed their creative, technical and business skills under direct guidance from industry experts, with the goal of producing 15-minute, 30-minute and feature length films.

1986: NSI is formed

On April 7, 1986, The Canadian Screen Institute was formed to meet an increased demand for comprehensive film and television training outside Canada’s larger urban centres. It was the first of its kind in the country.

The Institute adopted DramaLab and Local Heroes as its two flagship programs. The organization’s name was changed to National Screen Institute – Canada later that year.

1990: evolving with the industry

In 1990, after an in-depth evaluation, the National Screen Institute’s Board of Directors introduced a new flagship course, NSI Drama Prize, to adapt to the industry’s ever-changing needs.


NSI Features First was introduced for writers, directors and producers working on their first or second feature film.


The National Screen Institute opened a second office in Winnipeg and, the following year, introduced a second Local Heroes program to Winnipeg that screened exclusively Canadian film and video.


In spring 2001, the National Screen Institute consolidated its operations in Winnipeg, transferred the Edmonton Local Heroes program to the Edmonton International Film Festival Society and renamed the Winnipeg festival the NSI FilmExchange Canadian Film Festival.

NSI Global Marketing was introduced in 2001 and NSI Totally Television in 2002, completing the circle of early plans the organization had to develop stories for big and small screens, ensuring Canadian film and television stories reach Canadian audiences.

The NSI Aboriginal Cultural Trade Initiative launched in 2003, and became NSI Storytellers. The course was designed to help Aboriginal film and television producers advance their projects as international co-productions through guidance and access to new markets. The first trade mission was to Australia and New Zealand.

The Telefilm Canada Spark Plug Program started in 2003 as a diversity initiative geared towards mid- to advanced-level visible minority and Aboriginal producers with an interest in developing dramatic television programming.


DiverseTV was launched in collaboration with VisionTV and trained diverse writers to create dramatic television series for national broadcast.

After extended consultation with the Aboriginal community, the NSI Aboriginal Youth Pilot Project began. It eventually became CBC New Indigenous Voices (formerly NSI New Voices), a culturally-sensitive training course that exposes young Aboriginal people to a variety of creative and challenging employment opportunities in film, TV and digital media.


NSI Storytellers launched in 2007 in collaboration with APTN with the goal developing above-the-line Aboriginal talent. The course was an early part of the creation of Cashing In, which ran for four seasons on APTN.

NSI FilmExchange was retired in 2007.

In 2008, after in-depth research, and alumni and industry consultation, NSI’s website was redeveloped to offer more professional development and industry resources, and the NSI Online Short Film Festival was introduced.

Featuring Aboriginal Storytellers Program was introduced in 2008 in partnership with Telefilm Canada and APTN.


NSI Aboriginal Journalism was introduced, giving students the skills needed to advance their careers in news and journalism.


NSI IndigiDocs (formerly NSI Aboriginal Documentary) launched in 2013.

NSI began its digital initiatives (STORYHIVE Web Series, STORYHIVE Digital Shorts) with TELUS in late 2014, and NSI Diverse TV Director was launched in spring 2015.


NSI Business for Producers was introduced in partnership with On Screen Manitoba. The course is aimed at film, television and digital media content producers and trains them in best practices for running their company.

NSI’s privacy policy

Read NSI’s privacy policy.