Producers, screenwriters connect
As part of this year’s P.E.I. Screenwriters’ Bootcamp activities, several producers and broadcasters gathered in Charlottetown recently in search of new projects.
Among them were Donna Davies of Ruby Tree Films, Melissa Kajpust, head of creative development and outreach for Super Channel, and Andra Sheffer of the Independent Production Fund, Mark Sandiford of Beachwalker Films, Gretha Rose of Cellar Door Productions, and Brian Sharp of Mugisha Enterprises.
The event, organized by the Island Media Arts Coop (IMAC), lasted five days with 30 writers spending the majority of their time in the first four days in separate groups, developing their scripts with industry professionals. On day three, the aspiring screenwriters took part in an introductory two-hour session on budgeting with Sheffer, executive director for the Independent Production Fund and the COGECO Program Development Fund.
After four days of intensive script development, the screenwriters were given the opportunity to pitch to producers and broadcasters.
“It’s all very exciting and it’s sad to have to wait another year for the next one, assuming that all the stars all line up, and we’re extremely grateful to our sponsors for their continued support.” said Louise Lalonde, project co-ordinator.
“Telefilm Canada, Innovation P.E.I., Super Channel, the Independent Production Fund, the Harold Greenberg Fund, the City of Charlottetown, Culture P.E.I., Women in Film and Television-Atlantic, Ellipses-ACCA, and Cellar Door Productions have all helped build this event for writers and having industry professionals and broadcaster representatives gather and network in our own backyard is exceptionally stimulating for both writers and producers,” she added.
This year’s number of P.E.I. participants topped the list with a total of 14, both beginner and advanced writers.
"I have been a professional writer for 45 years.” said Nils Ling, president of the Island Media Arts Co-operative. “I have taught writing, written stage plays and books and came into the bootcamp pretty much sure there wasn't much they could teach me. I was wrong. I learned as much about this particular kind of writing in that four day span as I have in my lifetime."
The mentors for the web and television series were Hannah Cheesman and Mackenzie Donaldson, contributing writer and associate producer (respectively) on Orphan Black and CoCreators of the web series, Whatever, Linda. Their series was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and is available for viewing on Youtube.
Being so versed in today’s industry, the duo was equipped to share the most current and pointed approach to writing for the small screen industry.
Veteran teacher, story editor and all-around screenwriting guru, Tom Shoebridge once again brought his passion and shared his extensive knowledge of writing features with a group of eight emerging writers who are now eligible to attend next year’s Bootcamp.
First-time mentors this year were two screenwriting experts from Los Angeles: Donald Martin, Studio City, and Nancy Dodd, Pepperdine University author of The Writer’s Compass who shared not only their extensive hands-on experience in the industry and their understanding of the screenwriting process, but also brought a bit of Hollywood reality to the event.
On day four, approximately 50 writers filled the great room at the Haviland Club to listen to panellists Martin, Donaldson, Sheffer and Kajpust share insights and tips on marketing a script with Jan Miller, communications consultant with Lowenbe Enterprises, facilitating. This panel was open to anyone interested in the film and television industry and provided valuable information on how to go about selling a script.
“My experience with the P.E.I. Screenwriters Bootcamp, particularly the insightful help of Tom Shoebridge, has helped me hone my craft to the point where I see a new career as a very tangible reality. I would not have this confidence without bootcamp” said Gordon Cobb, a bootcamp alumnus.
“P.E.I. Screenwriters’ Bootcamp has provided with me with vital information to take my work to production.”
Lalonde says plans are already underway for next year’s event, which will be a celebration of 10 years of professional development offered to over a hundred screenwriters from Atlantic Canada, many of whom have gone on to have their work produced and made careers writing for the screen.
Visit www.peiscreenwritersbootcamp.net or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryan Gallant, a screenwriter from P.E.I., and Donald Martin, a mentor, break away from the crowd to discuss Gallant’s latest screenplay during the P.E.I. Screenwriters’ Bootcamp.