Netflix launches development program for various Canadian writers

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TORONTO – Netflix is ​​launching a development program for various Canadian film and television writers.

The streamer’s head of global television announced the initiative – dubbed Advancing Voices: Netflix Canada Creator Program – at the Banff World Media Festival on Tuesday.

Bela Bejaria says seven writers from underrepresented groups are getting paid mentoring and consulting sessions to develop their pitch and material for a potential Netflix series.

Participants will be able to work flexible and remote hours, and be paid above average industry rates.

They include: comedian and filmmaker Bita Joudaki of CBC Gem’s “The Slowest Show”; co-creators Jabbari Weekes and Tichaona Tapambwa of CBC Gem’s “Next Stop”; actor, filmmaker and founding artistic director of Realwheels, James Sanders; director Rama Rau of the films “Honey Bee” and “League of Exotic Dancers;” writer and director Jeff Barnaby of “Blood Quantum”; and “Heartland” writer Adam Hussein.

The three-month program begins in July in Toronto.

Weekes and Tapambwa chronicled the lives of young black Torontonians in their “Next Stop” anthology series. They say Advancing Voices is an opportunity to grow – in more ways than one.

“We wanted to be a part of that because we wanted to keep growing our craft,” Tapambwa said in an interview, noting that many of the duo’s projects were shorter in form.

“We want to tell more black stories, more queer stories, more stories within our community. We really think going into the depth and the emotional range that we want, we have to keep navigating and exploring.

The duo say they hope the program can propel them to the next stage of their careers and help them mentor the next generation of color designers.

Bejaria described Canada as one of Netflix’s top production hubs and “home to a wealth of talent.”

“We want to support more new and untold stories, and the training provided through this initiative will provide up-and-coming local writers with an invaluable opportunity to work with our content team to build their experience developing stories for a global audience,” Bejaria said on Tuesday. in one version.

Advancing Voices is part of Netflix’s Creative Equity Fund, a five-year, $100 million investment established to provide more behind-the-camera opportunities for diverse young creators.

Since its announcement in 2021, the fund has also supported a female directors program in partnership with the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television; imagineNative Institute’s Calling Card program, which supports Indigenous women writers; and helped develop a mentoring program in Vancouver by the group Women in Animation.

CBC announced similar efforts during the media festival on Sunday.

The CBC-BIPOC TV & Film Showrunner Catalyst is an accelerator program for senior writers who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Color.

In partnership with advocacy organization BIPOC TV & Film and the Canadian Film Centre, the program will provide on-set experience and professional coaching, designed with an anti-racism and equity-focused lens. Its first participants are Andrew Burrows-Trotman, MOTION and Ian Iqbal Rashid.

Weekes says programs like these are key to giving Canada’s “world-class storytellers” the platform they need, as well as a wider audience.

“We can continue to build on that and have new programs that show it’s not impossible, that there’s a practicality to it, in how you start filming, how you start scripting, how you throw,” says Weekes.

“It all makes everyone better and being able to share that information with our communities is essential.”

Participants were selected through an open call, while some were nominated by internal executives.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 14, 2022.

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