Two local filmmakers are developing projects through an online workshop being taught by an international expert.
Josh Hood and Reed Makayev are among a group of eight creators selected for the workshop, taught by Jan Miller and delivered by the National Screen Institute (NSI) in partnership with Film Training Manitoba (FTM). The workshop is designed to help participants develop their story ideas while in isolation due to COVID-19.
Through the Manitoba Content Creators Development Accelerator, Jan Miller — a top international development trainer and consultant in film and television — is providing participants with expert tips and tools to make their story ideas sing and be ready for pitching to a panel that may include producers, funders and broadcasters.
The program saw participants given homework due on May 15, to come up with a "one-sheet", which is a summary of the project they intend to work on, said Makayev.
"I’m excited to learn from Jan Miller, in that I’ve heard her advice is sound and consistent in helping people make pitches to producers."
A resident of the Lord Roberts neighbourhood, Makayev has an idea for a series that would include a combination of live action, animation and puppetry, about a down-at-his-luck man whose friends are pushing him to improve his life.
"The catch is that these are invisible friends, all in his mind," Makayev said, adding his writing aims to give a unique perspective to the seemingly simple lives of the people around him, while allowing his characters’ inner magic to shine through.
"I first wrote this idea in 2014. I’ve dusted it off, kept maybe 30 per cent of it, and rewrote the idea for today."
Makayev began his career as a film and television industry professional in 2004 and then attended the film production program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay. Upon graduation in 2007, Makayev returned to Winnipeg with a more complete understanding of the filmmaking process.
Since 2009, Makayev has been a member of the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), rising through the ranks of the assistant director department. Since 2016 he has held the position of vice president of the DGC’s Manitoba District Council and has also increased his participation as an instructor through FTM. He’s worked on local projects such as two instalments of the Chucky movies, along with Tales from the Loop.
"At the end of this, I’m hoping to find a producer who will develop the idea further. Sure, I could find a crew to shoot this locally, but I don’t know anyone with strong animation skills. I’d love to be able to scale this up to an eight-episode series," he said.
Hood also has similar hopes for the workshop. He’s working on a pitch for an animated kids’ TV show aimed at the three-to-six-year-old audience.
"Working with Jan is thrilling. She’ll be able to help me take my pitch to the next level," Hood said. "This is a very fast, intense workshop that started on May 8 and culminates on May 27 when we make our pitches. It makes for a very intense two weeks."
Hood is a writer/producer who lives in the Brockville neighbourhood near IKEA. He first picked up a camera at the age of three and has never put it down since. "My parents let me play around with the old video camera we had at the time," he said. "I made shows using my toys at first, and then got around to putting my films on the internet."
He began working as a studio camera operator at age 15 at Shaw TV Winnipeg and then as a producer/editor from 2014 to 2017, Hood edited hundreds of hours of local television, produced dozens of news-style stories, short and full-length documentaries, and acted as showrunner for three seasons of his award-winning series Millworth.
Hood studied at Vancouver Film School and graduated from the film production program in 2018 with honours, specializing in producing and post-production. He’s currently working as a script supervisor in the Manitoba film industry and is actively developing his own projects between shoots.
The six other Manitobans in the workshop are Erica Daniels, Sage Daniels, Katie Man, Jesse Peterson, Christine Reid and Vincent Tang.
Ursula Lawson, NSI program manager, said the participants are in for a real treat with Jan Miller.
"Their projects represent a wide range from thriller and horror to comedy and animation. Under Jan’s tutelage, it will be exciting to watch these stories unfold. She’s already assigned homework prior to the first of their online learning sessions. We’re thankful that through this partnership with Film Training Manitoba, we can continue developing our province’s creators – even during the current pandemic," Lawson said.
FTM’s managing director Adam Smoluk is excited about the collaboration with NSI on the accelerator program, in that it will support development of professionals in Manitoba’s growing film and television industry.
"This unique training will serve to grow the skills of our community and NSI has been an excellent partner even in these challenging times," Smoluk said. "We’ve never had anything of this calibre before. I’m excited about the collaboration on this project."
For more information, see https://bit.ly/2T7JXm2 or www.nsi-canada.ca
Susie Strachan is the community journalist for The Sou'wester. Call her at 204-697-7150 or 204-583-4718 or email her at: email@example.com