The Pacific Screenwriting Program’s Scripted Series Lab 2023 is now open for applications. The program runs 15 weeks, from January-April 2023. The application deadline is Friday, September 2nd, 2022 (11:59 PDT).
Currently in its 5th year, PSP’s Scripted Series Lab is open to all emerging British Columbia TV writers, wanting to gain experience in a real writers’ room with an established Show Runner. The curriculum polishes and prepares selected candidates for an entry-level writer position on a series. Previous Show Runners for the Scripted Series Lab include: Sarah Dodd (Family Law/Global), Robert Cooper (Unspeakable/CBC & AMC Studios) , Will Pascoe (Absentia/Amazon), and Karen McClellan (The Next Step/ Family Channel).
The Pacific Screenwriting Program has recently engaged Jan Nathanson as Interim Program Director. She brings a wealth of knowledge and relationships to her work. She is currently the Co-Creator and Producer of the Inside Out Film Festival’s International Financing Forum (IFF) for 2SLGBTQ+ feature films. Prior to this, she produced Ontario Creates’ International Financing Forum (iff), which takes place during the Toronto International Film Festival, for twelve years. She remains involved with OC’s iff as Senior Consultant since her move to British Columbia. She began her film industry career after being recruited by Alliance while she was completing her Masters Degree in Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She ultimately became Director of Acquisitions, Development & Production at Alliance Atlantis International before being purged with 75+ other people in 2002.
BC Applications to the 2023 Scripted Series Lab Open July 25th, 2022
(VANCOUVER, July 18, 2022) – After the successful delivery of a completely redesigned fourth edition of the Scripted Series Lab, and the resounding success of the PSP Summit as a consultant, we are saddened to announce that Alison Fraser has decided to focus on program delivery and executive leadership with a national scope through her consultancy KAF Consulting Group.
Fraser introduced brand new story editing, script punch-up, story coordinating and revamped mentorship modules to the 15-week training program, in addition to a full roster of events. Several of the participants in the Pacific Screenwriting Program (PSP) during her yearlong tenure have earned spots in BC writers’ rooms, including Scott Button and Mostafa Shaker on FAMILY LAW; Tammy Tsang on an unannounced AAA video game in development and the web series HEY CUZZIN; and Manny Mahal is in post-production on a documentary with CBC.
Fraser is grateful to the PSP for reigniting her passion for the industry. She is actively developing national programs focused on eradicating pervasive barriers to entry for Black and Indigenous creators, continues serving on several boards in the creative industries, and returns to Executive MBA studies in the fall.
“It is absolutely crucial that we all work together to amplify the voices of underrepresented groups to ensure they have full and unencumbered access to the networks, resources and skills needed to succeed in the screen-based industries across the country,” says Fraser, the founder of KAF Consulting Group. “Inclusion and diversity are not a fleeting trend, this is our new reality.”
PSP Chair Brian Hamilton added: “We congratulate Alison on her successes and share her belief in the importance of amplifying under-represented voices, which is part of the core mission of the PSP.”
Heading into its fifth year, the Scripted Series Lab combines real-world story room experience, mentorship, workshops and information sessions to equip writers in British Columbia with the skills, experience and connections necessary to establish a sustainable career in the province’s dynamic screen-based industry. Applications for the 2023 Scripted Series Lab will open on July 25th, 2022.
About the Pacific Screenwriting Program
The Pacific Screenwriting Program was established in 2018 with the goal of building a vibrant screenwriter community in British Columbia. Based in Vancouver, the not-for-profit organization provides support and career advancement to BC-based film and television writers at all levels, while generating a deep and sustainable pool of local talent for BC-based series and films.
The Porter (CBC, BET+) is set in the Black community of St. Antoine, Montreal in the 1920s. The series follows an ensemble of characters who hustle, dream, cross borders and pursue their ambitions on and off the railways that crossed North America. It’s a gripping story of empowerment and idealism that highlights the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the United States joined forces to create the world’s first Black union. The PSP is honoured to host Marsha Greene and Annmarie Morais on Monday February 28 for a public talk about Authentic Storytelling and being a part of Canada’s only Black-led series, with an all-Black writers’ room.
Monday, February 28, 2022
4pm PST on VIFF Connect
Susin Nielsen, Kim Hsu Guise and Todd Ireland Join PSP’s Board of Directors, Alison Fraser Named Executive Director
Vancouver, January 18, 2021 – The Pacific Screenwriting Program (PSP) is thrilled to announce the appointment of three new Board Members and its first Executive Director.
The Pacific Screenwriting Program is a collaboration between Netflix, the Canadian Media Producers Association – BC Producer’s Branch, the Writer’s Guild of Canada and Creative BC with the goal of building a vibrant screenwriter community in British Columbia. The Program provides support and career-advancement opportunities to BC-based film and television writers at all levels, while generating a deep and sustainable pool of local film and TV screenwriting talent for BC-based series and films.
Susin Nielsen is the most recent addition to the Board of Directors representing the Writers Guild of Canada. She has written for many Canadian TV series, including Arctic Air, Heartland, Cedar Cove, Madison, Ready or Not, Franny’s Feet and Braceface. She also co-created and executive produced the critically-acclaimed half-hour comedy-drama, Robson Arms. She’s won an Academy of Canadian TV Gemini Award and two Canadian Screenwriter Awards for her work. Most recently Susin wrapped season two of Family Law, an hour-long comedy-drama for Global TV.
Also joining the PSP Board of Directors is Kim Hsu Guise who has 20 years of experience in the film and television industry as a lawyer, business affairs advisor and production executive. She is an independent consultant currently working with clients such as Telefilm Canada and the Directors Guild of Canada to develop training initiatives for underrepresented creatives in the audio-visual industries. She was previously the Director of Local Content at TELUS, as well the Executive in Charge of Production for TELUS Original Programming and STORYHIVE overseeing a multi-million dollar portfolio supporting BC and Alberta filmmakers and cultural organizations. Kim is passionate about enabling people from diverse backgrounds and experiences to tell stories that are meaningful to them and their communities.
Todd Ireland is EVP of Enderby Entertainment Canada, where he oversees development and production. He also sits on the Writers Guild of Canada Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Ireland was a writer on the Saturn Award-winning TV series, Continuum for Netflix/Showcase, and a writer and Story Editor for two seasons on Netflix/YTV’s ReBoot:The Guardian Code, produced by Mainframe Entertainment, which earned him a 2019 Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Award nomination. Todd recently completed writing the family animated feature film Sunny. Todd is a graduate of the University of Regina and completed both the PSP’s Scripted Series Lab, as well as the Writers Guild of Canada Diverse Screenwriter Program.
“We feel privileged to collaborate with such a diverse group of industry executives to help guide the PSP through its evolution from a start-up with an ambitious vision to becoming a key local industry stakeholder championing screenwriters in British Columbia” said PSP Board Chair Brian Hamilton. “We are particularly excited to welcome our new Executive Director Alison Fraser to lead the charge on these efforts,” elaborated Hamilton. “I look forward to working with our highly respected leadership team on developing new programs and strategies to ensure that BC’s diverse voices are represented on screens at home and around the world.”
KAF Consulting Group Principal, Alison Fraser, has been retained to lead start-up to scale-up efforts as Executive Director with a focus on corporate strategy, revenue generation, and operations.
“Despite the pandemic, the industry contributed $3.4 billion to the provincial economy in 2020 and saw a 30% increase in scripted television series,” said Fraser. “By building on our four-year track record of success, and scaling up the PSP, we’re better able to ensure BC screenwriting talent and homegrown stories represent a significant portion of that ongoing growth.”
Alison brings more than 20 years of experience in delivering national programs, and leading large marketing, communications and content delivery initiatives with organizations such as Microsoft, Telefilm Canada, Rogers, Transcontinental Media, TELUS, and Entertainment One to this new leadership role. Alison holds a master’s degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, completed the Women in Film and Television Media Leadership Program at the Schulich School of Business, and is pursuing an Executive MBA at SFU. She also serves on the boards of Women in Film and Television – Vancouver, Eastside Culture Crawl and the International Association for Public Participation.
About the Pacific Screenwriting Program
The Pacific Screenwriting Program was established in 2018 with the goal of building a vibrant screenwriter community in British Columbia. Based in Vancouver, the not-for-profit organization provides support and career-advancement opportunities to BC-based film and television writers at all levels, while generating a deep and sustainable pool of local talent for BC-based series and films. For more information: Pacific Screenwriting Program, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram
Netflix is the world’s leading internet entertainment service with 195 million paid memberships in over 190 countries enjoying TV series, documentaries and feature films across a wide variety of genres and languages. Members can watch as much as they want, anytime, anywhere, on any internet-connected screen. Members can play, pause and resume watching, all without commercials or commitments.
About the CMPA – BC Producers Branch
The CMPA-BC is a trade association representing member companies across British Columbia engaged in the production and distribution of television programs, feature films, and interactive media content. Producers are significant employers of BC creative talent and assume the financial and creative risk of developing our stories and original content for Canadian and international audiences. CMPA members create content for distribution on traditional film and television, internet and mobile wireless platforms. For more information: CMPA-BC
The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) is a professional association of more than 2,400 English-language screenwriters. WGC members are the creative force behind Canada’s successful TV shows, movies and digital series, and their work brings the diversity of Canadian life and culture to the world’s screens. The WGC supports Canadian screenwriters through negotiating and administering collective agreements with producers to ensure that screenwriters earn fair pay and benefits. It also advocates for policies that foster Canadian programming and production and boosts the profile of WGC members in the industry. For more information, visit wgc.ca. Follow @WGCtweet on Twitter.
About Creative BC
Creative BC is an independent non-profit society formed in 2013 to support the province’s film, television, music, interactive digital media as well as book and magazine publishing
industries. Creative BC works collaboratively with industry and its government partners to encourage higher levels of production, job creation and investment across all sectors of B.C.’s creative economy. For more information: Creative BC
MEDIA CONTACT: Jive PR | Richard Stafford | email@example.com | 310.384.5753
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
6pm PST on VIFF Connect
Award-winning writer Karen McClellan will serve as Showrunner-in-Residence for the 2022 Scripted Series Lab. Starting in January 2022, Karen will mentor six up-and-coming BC-based screenwriters as they develop her original series in the PSP’s flagship training program. Karen recently served as Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner of The Next Step, a global hit series playing in over 120 countries. During her tenure, the fictional tween dramedy garnered multiple BAFTA and Canadian Screen Award nominations. Prior to joining The Next Step in its fifth season, Karen co-created and executive-produced the Victoria, BC-set mystery digital series Spiral for which she won a 2018 Writers Guild of Canada award. Her other credits cover an array of one-hour and half-hour shows, including CBC’s international hit drama Being Erica and critically acclaimed Cracked, as well as CTV’s beloved comedy Robson’s Arms. A graduate of the Shaw Media Showrunner Training Program, Karen has developed multiple projects for Canadian and American broadcasters and production companies.
We’ve just sent word by email to each of our wonderful applicants for the 2022 Scripted Series Lab. Please note we use mailing list software. If you applied but don’t see an email from us, please check your junk mail. Regardless of your news, good or bad, we are grateful for your interest and cheer you onward in your writing.
Thank you to all of you who sent applications in to us. We know it’s a lot of work. All applicants can expect to hear from the PSP via email in mid November. Please make sure our emails aren’t going to your junk folder!
Join the PSP for an info session on next years Scripted Series Lab.
Hear from our Program Director and past participants about their experience and have your questions answered.
Date: Thursday, July 8th
Location: Zoom Webinar
Screenwriter Corey Liu has been working steadily since finishing the Scripted Series Lab 2019 program, including a stint in the room on Susin Nielsen’s new drama, Family Law, set to premier on Global later this year. Thank goodness he’s getting good at writing in a system rather than letting adrenaline and deadlines run the schedule. Corey says he’s a fan of the Pomodoro method. “You tell yourself you only have to feel crappy for 30m if the writing doesn’t start to flow. (But it usually does.)”
When Corey thinks back to the Scripted Series Lab, he says “learning how to break a mystery with Showrunner, Sarah Dodd, and getting experience with how to organize an episode, was an invaluable experience. In a mystery you’re trying to steer the audience’s attention. You give them enough clues but also you’re trying to manipulate the viewer into thinking certain things. So much is centered in structure. Every act is a unified thought. The same goes for episodes.” He adds, Sarah Dodd taught them that “every show leaves questions that we manipulate the audience into thinking they have the answer to to.”
Corey’s advice to this year’s participants is “don’t get attached to you or ideas in the room.” Most of his ideas don’t end up on the wall, “and that’s fine!” Also, don’t get too automatically critical of other people’s pitched ideas. He adds, “Remember when you get notes from the mentor, still just really sit with it and think about where it might be coming from. What are they identifying even if you don’t love their solution.”
Since completing the Scripted Series Lab 2020, screenwriter Adam Hussein has signed with an agent and continues to work on several projects. He’s particularly excited about a novel he’s been adapting that sounds like a perfect match for his legal background and social justice interests.
Reflecting on his time in the room, Adam thinks showrunner, Rob Cooper, was “really good about pressing us on our networking skills, on taking chances and reaching out as much as we can. This has already served me well and helped me to stay on top of it.”
His advice for future applicants? Work on a sample that is the clearest representation of who you are and what your voice is. “What’s gotten the most attention for me,” he explains, “hasn’t always been my most marketable work but it shows my voice and shows my passion. Focus on that above all else.”
Petie Chalifoux has a whole folder of rejections at home but she says, “you can’t give up. Accept the “no,” and keep moving forward. Never give up. Somebody out there is ready for your project, you just don’t know who until they see it.”
Petie runs a production company, Tohkapi Cinema, with her partner, Micheal Auger. Tohkapi is a Cree word meaning “Opening Eyes” and it’s a 100% owned and operated Indigenous company. Her hard work and her dedication to putting herself out there is bearing fruit. The project she worked on at the PSP, “Disappearing Moon,” has received development money and is currently being worked into a feature and a short. Petie and her team will be filming the short this summer, “and we continue to push for it to become a TV series.” Petie’s documentary, “Bella’s Story,” recently aired on APTN.
Looking back at her time with the PSP, Petie says she’s grateful to Sarah Dodd for holding a space for her to use her voice in the way Petie was taught, in a way that was respectful to her own culture. She adds, the most useful skill she came away with was “learning how to break a story.”
For 2020 Scripted Series Lab Alum, Renuka Singh, writing is a family affair. Her sister is also a working TV writer and the two of them have been hard at work on a new project.
For Renuka, time spent in the room was emboldening. “Near the end of the program,” she muses, “we were reflecting on our experience and Rob Cooper told me I had to get confident and throw my ideas out there. That’s how you get your ideas heard. Your ideas might get shot down but that’s part of the process – it leads to the next idea.” That advice extends to communication with the Showrunner as well. “At any point where you are bumping on something…don’t sit on it. Go to the showrunner and ask for clarification. They will tell you exactly what they are looking for, saving you from spinning your wheels and building up your relationship with the Showrunner.”
Her advice for future participants is practical. “The program is scary and uncomfortable and all encompassing at times, so set your personal affairs up first so you can take time for self-care. The room is so fun! But it’s a challenge too. Make sure you fridge is well stocked.”