NSI Totally Television - Apply

Presented by the National Screen Institute in association with Bell Media

Application deadline

Applications are closed.

Our most recent course information is listed below for reference only. Please note this information is subject to change.


Call Shelly Quade on (204) 956-7800 or (800) 952-9307 or email: shelly.quade@nsi-canada.ca.

Application fee

There is a $100 non-refundable fee per application. Payment is processed through PayPal.


$1,500 per selected participant. Due one week after acceptance into the course.

New timeline

  • Phase 1 training week: late September / early October 2016
  • Re-submissions: December 2016
  • Phase 2 teams chosen: January 2017
  • Phase 2 training March 2017, exact dates to be chosen with final teams
  • Pitching broadcasters: May 2017
  • Banff World Media Festival: June 2017

What does NSI Totally Television offer?

This highly successful 10-month course provides hands-on series development training for up to six strong creative producer/writer teams serious about getting their television series concept made. Each team is paired with execs from major Canadian networks, showrunners and story editors to help hone your concept and make it pitch perfect.

During the course you will:

  • get the latest in market intelligence from the broadcasters themselves;
  • have intense sessions with key industry people who will work with you to improve, perfect and refine your series concept; see our list of mentors and associate faculty from the course last year;
  • work with an executive producer mentor;
  • hear firsthand how a series comes together from development to pitch to production to broadcast;
  • learn the fine art of conversational pitching;
  • pitch your series concept to your target broadcasters in May 2017 and at Banff 2017;
  • receive up to $5,000 for development costs;
  • attend the 2017 Banff World Media Festival for an opportunity to connect with industry professionals, broadcasters, distributors and production companies;
  • sit down with a line producer for advice on your series budget;
  • explore the world of social media marketing and multiplatform strategies, and find out how they can extend your brand, generate buzz, expand your audience and create a life for your series outside conventional television.

What is the course format?

NSI Totally Television is comprised of two phases.

Phase one: an intensive six-day training session in Toronto in late September / early October 2016.

Teams return home after phase one to fine-tune their proposals for re-submission. Two teams will be chosen to proceed to phase two for further development and training. The decision will be based on:

  • readiness of the team to land a development deal and work with a broadcaster;
  • concepts that are most clearly expressed and defined; and,
  • projects which are ‘timely’ for the marketplace and are on the broadcasters ‘must do’ list. 

Phase two: focuses on the specific needs of your project and includes a three- to four-day training session in Toronto in early to late spring 2015, attendance at the 2015 Banff World Media Festival and pitching your series concept to your targeted broadcasters. Exact phase two training dates to be determined in consultation with phase two teams.

You will be matched with a story editor and executive producer mentor to help achieve your goal of a development deal. You will also receive up to $5,000 for approved development costs.

What do I have to do to commit to the course?

You must make considerable time available for the course. While project and professional development plans will be created with maximum flexibility, all training sessions take place during the day.

Attendance at the fall 2016 training session in Toronto is mandatory for all phase one participants. Attendance at the phase-two training week in spring 2017 and the Banff World Media Festival in June, 2017 is mandatory for all phase two participants.

Who can apply?

The course is aimed at two-person producer/writer teams wishing to further develop a television series concept. Preference will be given to strong creative teams who are equally passionate and invested in the creative development of the concept.

Previous students of the NSI Totally Television course cannot re-apply for the same position (if you participated as the producer you can re-apply as the writer but NOT as the producer).

You may submit more than one application but you must complete a separate application form along with an additional $100 application fee.

NSI Totally Television is first and foremost a training course, and preference will be given to applicants we feel will benefit most from the training. If you feel you would benefit from the course, despite your experience level (lack of or wealth of), please include a letter explaining why the selection committee should consider you for the course. This letter is in addition to the deliverable letter of expectation.

In order to be eligible applicants must:

  • have a minimum of one year’s experience in production, business affairs, legal, marketing, distribution or development or a combination of the above. Writers are exempt from this criteria;
  • have produced a minimum of one 30-minute video, film or other multimedia project (or a number of projects with a cumulative running time of 30 minutes). The project(s) need not have been broadcast. You must identify which project(s) are student project(s). Writers are exempt from this criteria;
  • demonstrate you are a strong writer/producer team. Your project will be ineligible if any of the team members identified on the application form change at any point after selection;
  • maintain creative and financial control over the project. This includes ownership of, or option on, all underlying rights (if any). NSI reserves the right to disqualify any team that does not fully own the rights in and to the project;
  • not currently be enrolled in any full-time school or university program;
  • not be a participant in any other training course that would conflict with your ability to commit to the NSI Totally Television course;
  • be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant and be over the age of 18.

Can I apply alone or as a three person team?

No. We only accept applications from two person writer/producer teams.

Co-producers and co-writers are not eligible for participation in the course. The producer and writer participants are expected to share the information and knowledge gained from the course with their co-producer/writer.

Can I apply with more than one proposal per year? Can I re-submit a proposal?

Yes, provided you complete a separate application form along with an additional $100 application fee.

You may apply twice with the same project within a three-year period.

What projects are eligible?

  • Concepts in the genres of drama, comedy, children’s and animation are eligible. Projects can be half-hour or hour-long series aimed at prime time television or shorter times for children’s series. Projects must be suitable for broadcast television. Documentary, docu-drama, lifestyle, reality and mini-series are not eligible.
  • Projects must be scripted, have a story arc, character development and sustainable plot lines for multiple episodes and seasons.
  • Theme and subject matter are up to you. NSI will not accept any project that contains excessive violence, sexual violence or sexual exploitation. All proposals must conform to the Industry Codes as outlined by the CRTC including those related to sex-role portrayal and violence.

How do I apply?

Only complete applications will be considered. This means you must fill out all required sections of the application form and must include all the documents listed below as one PDF.

Your application will be disqualified if any of the sections are incomplete or missing. A check list has been provided for your use on the application form.

  • Series synopsis: a brief summary of the series giving a general overview of the premise. Usually a paragraph or less.
  • Series bible (if available): a written guide for your series describing the central premise, story and characters, the setting, genre and continuing elements. It may include detailed characterizations and describe the interplay among the lead and recurring characters. Character and story arcs, storyline and dialogue examples may also be included.
  • Mini bible (if series bible not available): a three- to five-page document outlining the story and a minimum of one paragraph for each character description.
  • Series pilot or episode script(s).
  • Minimum six episodic outlines (if not included in bible): episode outlines should be about a paragraph to half a page each; if there are exciting moments in the plot, make them exciting in the outline; if there are moments of humour, include a joke or two. You might even include an example or two of dialogue as long as it doesn’t interrupt the flow.
  • Genesis of the idea: tell us where the idea for your series concept came from. What was the inspiration?
  • Top sheet of proposed per episode production budget and financing structure.
  • Complete chain of title documentation: refers to the underlying rights for your story. You need to provide documentation that demonstrates your right to develop the project whether it is a story idea of your own creation or an adaptation. See an example.
  • Resume of each applicant clearly stating production experience: include your role on the production and the following information about each project: the writer/producer/director; genre; if it was a student film; final running time; any broadcasts and/or theatrical release; is it in development, production, post or completed.
  • Letter of expectation from each team member: a paragraph from each team member describing what you hope to gain by participating in the NSI Totally Television course.
  • Letter of reference for each team member: this should be from someone you look to as a mentor in the industry; someone who can speak to your readiness to participate in this course.
  • Description of the formal relationship between team members: outline ownership and decision-making control between yourselves. Have you incorporated a company? How long have you known each other?  Have you worked together before? How confident are you that you can work together on this project?
  • Additional letters (if applicable): required for applicants needing to demonstrate their suitability to participate in the course because they don’t meet eligibility criteria or may be perceived as too experienced for the course.
  • $100 non-refundable entry fee: each team must submit a $100 application fee. Payment is processed through PayPal.

Does NSI have any templates we can use?

No. Telefilm and the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund have some wonderful resources on their websites.

How will teams be selected?

Projects will be selected based on their creative and commercial potential. Both the project and team members must be suitable for the course (it is possible to have a good project but a team which is not yet ready to produce a series, or a great team with the wrong project).

  • All applications will be assessed for eligibility and completeness. Incomplete applications will be rejected.
  • The NSI Totally Television manager and advisor will read each proposal and create a shortlist.
  • The shortlist will be distributed to a jury made up of industry representatives with senior level experience in the television industry.
  • Based upon the strength of the script, team members and support documentation, the jury will select up to six teams.

When will I know if I’ve been selected?

Shortlisted applicants will be notified via email. Final selection of teams will be complete by the end of July 2016.

Tuition payment will be required one week following notification of acceptance into the course.

If you are not selected, you will be notified by email. We will do our best to notify everyone by July 29, 2016.

Who is The NSI Totally Television manager?

Shelly Quade

As manager of programs and development, Shelly runs the NSI Totally Television and NSI Features First courses.

Shelly comes to NSI from Frantic Films where she was assistant to the CEO & executive producer. More recently she had a hand in TV development from show creation to research with a special love for casting.

She has extensive knowledge of the film and television industry on a national level, great connections and is enormously passionate about Canadian productions.

When she was cast as an extra in the Canadian classic Meatballs, she knew film and TV was the industry she wanted to work in. She went on to study broadcasting and worked as a reader and book reviewer and brings those skills and enthusiasm to her current position.

Who is the NSI Totally Television advisor?

Julie Di Cresce

Julie Di Cresce has worked in broadcast programming for over 10 years and is currently the VP of television at First Generation Films where she is spearheading their push into broadcasting.

In her previous post as director of Canadian programming at Super Channel she was responsible for honing their original programming strategy. She oversaw series in production as well as pre-licensing series and feature films including feature-length documentaries.

Prior to joining Super Channel she held the post of director of original programming for HBO Canada where she managed a robust slate of series in development and was acting production executive on all series greenlit into production including Call me Fitz and Less than Kind (developed through NSI Totally Television).

She was the program advisor for the 2014 NSI Features First film program and the program manager for the inaugural Bell Media Producer Accelerator Lab, a program designed to give mid-level producers the tools to work effectively with broadcast partners.

What are the exact course dates?

NSI Totally Television is a 10-month training course.

Story editors will read your material in September 2016 prior to the six-day phase-one training session in Toronto in late September / early October 2016. Teams who successfully move onto phase two will attend a four-day training session in spring 2017. Both training sessions take place in Toronto. Exact dates will be determined once the phase two teams are chosen. The Banff World Media Festival takes place in June 2017 and teams will pitch broadcasters in May 2017 prior to Banff.

What rights does the National Screen Institute have on the project?

All copyright in the project remains with the applicants. NSI reserves the sole right to disqualify any team that does not fully own the rights in and to the project.

NSI and its sponsors will retain the right to exhibit and/or stream (non-commercially) completed productions for promotional purposes and will use best efforts to notify the producer of any such screening prior to its occurrence. NSI requires a tail credit on all produced episodes as well as a credit on all publicity and promotional materials developed with respect to the project.

A contract will be signed with each team outlining the commitments and responsibilities of the team and NSI under the course.

What financial assistance will I receive?

Phase one teams who live outside Toronto will have their airfare and accommodation covered while they are in Toronto for the training session. Transportation to and from the airport and within the city is the responsibility of team members. Phase two teams will receive up to $5,000 each to cover approved development costs, have their airfare and accommodation covered for the second training session and the Banff World Media Festival (including registration, accommodation and shuttle from the airport to Banff).

What is the relationship between the National Screen Institute and the successful applicant?

The relationship between the applicant and NSI shall not be deemed to constitute a partnership or joint venture. The applicant shall not have the right to incur any debts nor to make any commitment of or on behalf of NSI.

Can I submit my application by fax or email?

No. All applications must be provided using the online form.  

NSI Totally Television 2015 was made possible by Presenting Sponsor Bell Media; Program Partner Telefilm Canada; Supporting Sponsors Entertainment One, Super ChannelCorus Entertainment and Breakthrough Entertainment; Provincial Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; and Industry Partner Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.