TIFF Studio opens call for Canadian writer-directors

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By Danielle Tinning.

Canadian filmmakers have a new resource to help hone their skills as the Toronto International Film Festival announced changes to their industry development program, Studio. Now in its fourth year, the programme has shifted away from developing producers to work exclusively with Canadian writer-directors.

The program, which will run from June to January 2017, offers successful applicants the opportunity to advance their filmmaking skills, with a special emphasis on storytelling.

As TIFF industry director Kathleen Drum explains, “We support Canadian screen professionals to develop their artistic skills, and to gain a greater understanding of trends and developments in the marketplace.”

The Studio program offers 10 mid-level creative writers with a directorial dream the tools they need to succeed in filmmaking. This includes development, adaptation, packaging and talent agents, working with actors and casting agents, the art of pitching, festival readiness, marketing and finance, and a look at budgeting.

To further whet the appetite of creative-types hoping to work in the program, since 2013 the programme has helped 33 Canadian producers get their work out there and boost their understanding of the industry. Studio alumni includes Daniel Bekerman (co-producer, The Witch by Robert Eggers); Paula Devonshire (producer, Remember by Atom Egoyan); Karen Harnisch (producer, Sleeping Giant by Andrew Cividino); Floyd Kane (producer, Jean of Joneses by Stella Meghie); Matthew Miller (producer, Operation Avalanche by Matt Johnson) and Ingrid Veninger (director-producer, He Hated Pigeons).

Sessions will feature guest speakers and a range of experts who will share professional knowledge and interact directly with Studio participants. Studio will also allow the selected applicants to attend the Toronto International Film Festival this September with a complementary Industry Pass.

There are a few key requirements to participate. Applicants must be in development, with a second or third draft, on a feature-length project or series, and should submit a project to workshop. The successful applicants will be required to have an interest in all forms of media, from film, TV, and documentaries, to online, interactive and transmedia.

If you’re an aspiring writer-director, the deadline for submitting your project is April 25. Visit tiff.net/industry/studio for more information.

The Studio programme is supported by the Directors Guild of Canada and co-presented by the Harold Greenberg Fund.