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Jennica Harper as Showrunner for SSL in Landmark Year

Photo by The Portrait Sessions

The Pacific Screenwriting Program (PSP) announced today that award-winning writer and showrunner Jennica Harper (JANN, SkyMed, The Order) has been selected as the Showrunner in Residence for the 2023 Scripted Series Lab. The BC-based PSP is also celebrating an important milestone, as the program heads into its fifth successful year fostering and creating opportunities for the next generation of screenwriters in Canada.

Since 2018, the PSP with the support of its partners Netflix, The Canadian Media Producers Association, the Writer’s Guild of Canada and Creative BC, has attracted top writing talent from the province and, through its varied programs, has created opportunities for emerging writers to contribute to the country’s thriving film and television industry. Vancouver, often referred to as ‘Hollywood North’, is known for its service production and although the industry is booming, the vast majority of what is produced here is written elsewhere. Thanks in part to the PSP, there is now a place for BC’s world class storytellers to grow and thrive in an industry that is so important to the province.

“Over the past five years, the PSP has built a vibrant screenwriting community in BC and across the country,” says Stéphane Cardin, Public Policy Director for Netflix in Canada. “It’s been rewarding to see the success of so many past participants and we’re looking forward to seeing how far this next group of screenwriters will go in their careers.”

The Scripted Series Lab, PSP’s flagship program offering, guides six up-and-coming BC-based screenwriters in a writer’s room as they develop an original series. Steered by Harper, this year’s cohort includes Tanvi Bhatia, Kaylyn Johnson, Toby Marks, Kay Shioma Metchie, Kurt Mungal and Andrey Summers. Participants will receive valuable mentoring on their original pilot, workshops and information sessions with additional industry experts to help them evolve their skills and build careers in this dynamic and ever-changing entertainment industry. Many past participants are working in rooms for series on Netflix, CBC, Apple TV+, Amazon and more.

“We are honoured to have Jennica Harper as this year’s showrunner for the Scripted Series Lab,” says PSP Chair Brian Hamilton. “Jennica is a hugely respected leader in BC’s screenwriting community and mentorship is something that comes naturally to her. We can hardly wait to see what she develops with this year’s exciting cohort of new voices!”

Harper is showrunner and co-creator of the award-winning comedy series JANN (CTV/Hulu) starring Jann Arden, which has run for three seasons and recently launched a holiday special. Jennica has written in a wide range of genres, from dark crime dramas to kid’s multicam comedies, and credits the Canadian industry for not asking her to “pick a lane.” She was a writer and co-executive producer on the upcoming light procedural The Spencer Sisters (eOne/CTV), medical adventure drama SkyMed (Paramount+/CBC), horror-comedy cult favourite The Order (Netflix), and critically acclaimed thriller Cardinal (Hulu/CTV), among others. Jennica has won two WGC Awards for best script, one for kid’s comedy Some Assembly Required, the other for the pilot script of JANN.

“I’m thrilled to be collaborating with these brilliant writers,” says Harper. “There’s nothing more exciting than a room full of creative minds with varied points of view and interests coming together to break stories. I can’t wait to get started.”

SSL 2023 Set To Launch

The PSP is thrilled to launch our fifth Scripted Series Lab beginning next week!

This year’s cohort includes Tanvi Bhatia, Kaylyn Johnson, Toby Marks, Kay Shioma Metchie and Kurt Mungal. We can’t wait to get the room up and running.

Further announcements, including this year’s Showrunner are coming soon!

 

 

 

Pacific Screenwriting Program’s Scripted Series Lab Open for Applications

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).

Pacific Screenwriting Program Announces Interim Program Director

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.

Pacific Screenwriting Program Announcement

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.

Public PSP Panel: First Jobs in the Writers’ Room

The team of support staff on a show is a crucial part to keeping the writers’ office working and these opportunities are a very common path for a new writer. A conversation with a Writers’ Assistant, Writers’ PA, Showrunner’s Assistant and a Script Coordinator. These are highly coveted roles are the inside track to being in a writers’ office and gaining the experience from being in the room where it happens. They are competitive to land but can provide invaluable connections, knowledge and etiquette. They can also lead to a writer’s first freelance script or staffing position. The goal of this panel is to inform the PSP audience of what each role of the writers’ room support staff is responsible for, how to approach landing one of these roles and how to best set yourself up for success.

Panelists

Neda Devarpanah (Writers’ PA: Dollface, The 100)
Sarah Fischer (Writers’ Assistant: Agents of SHIELD, Obi-Wan Kenobi)
Carrie Williams (Showrunner’s Assistant: The Originals, The Vampire Diaries)
Khalid Moalim (Script Coordinator: The 4400, NCIS: New Orleans)

Friday, Mar 18th 2022

7pm PST on Zoom

ID: 868 6878 5622
Passcode: 204434

PSP Industry Panel: Literary Managers’ Panel

For a new writer, having a literary manager can be incredibly beneficial. While agents are more deal-oriented, managers are typically more career oriented. They are there to help you develop your material and get it out into the marketplace. They are also there to guide you as a writer as you navigate your career. Managers generally have a short list of clients and are much more involved in the day to day with their clients as well as the long term planning. They are also allowed to produce material with their clients. The goal of this panel is to have the PSP audience walk away with a clear understanding of the role of a literary manager, how to go about signing with one, and the working writer/manager relationship.

Panelists

This panel will feature a group of literary managers from a variety of companies within the US, each with a different background and unique working style. This is important because, like writers, each manager is different and it’s about finding the right match to have a successful working relationship. Conrad Sun (Meridian Artists Trevor Rotenberg (3Arts) Luke Maxwell (3 Arts).

Tuesday, Mar 15th 2022

7pm PST on Zoom

ID: 889 7564 5862
Passcode: 012382

Spotlight on the Porter: Authentic Storytelling

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

Attendance is free! Please register here to participate.

Our First Executive Director and Three New Board Members

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

 

About Netflix

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

 

About WBC

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 | richard@jiveprdigital.com | 310.384.5753

VIFF Talks: Yellowjackets Co-Creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson

Yellowjackets (Showtime, Crave) has been seen by over 4 million viewers since its November 14, 2021 debut. The show picked up a Critics’ Choice nomination for ’Best Drama Series’, and has already been renewed for a second season. We are thrilled to present Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson (Narcos, Dispatches from Elsewhere) as they discuss the show’s flashback structure, character development, and cast.


Wednesday, January 26, 2022

6pm PST on VIFF Connect

Attendance is free! Please register here to participate.

KAREN McCLELLAN 2022 SHOWRUNNER-IN-RESIDENCE

Karen McClellan-PSP-2022Award-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.

SSL 2022 Applications Now Closed

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!