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“Being able to observe how a show operates in the best conditions gives me a sense of where the bar should be and a clear goal for achievement.” – Kirsten Carthew, 2018 Canadian Academy Directors Program for Women participant

The Canadian Academy Directors Program for Women is an initiative that came from the Academy’s desire to reach gender parity and ensure the greater representation of women and women-identifying directors working in today’s screen-based industry.

The program is designed to bolster the professional development of Canadian directors by providing hands-on experience through a wide range of activities, including an exclusive two-day professional development summit, a six-part online learning module, and curated mentorships with established production companies and high-profile directors.

Learn more here

Alicia K Harris

Toronto Artist, Filmmaker

All photos credit to Kurtis Chen.

Alicia K Harris is an artist from Toronto. She is the Co-Founder of Sugar Glass Films with Rebeca Ortiz, dedicated to creating films that feature women, marginalized groups & children and a lover of intersectional feminism, live music, children/youth, traveling and cats. Alicia spoke with Reelworld about her experiences at the Academy Directors Program for Women.

How did you hear about the Academy Directors Program?

I heard the program about it back when it first started in 2017. I heard about it through advertising on social media.


Talk us through the process of what happened after you were chosen?

To apply you answer a series of questions about your background in film, passion for your craft, as well as what knowledge you hope to gain from your mentor and from the program. After applying, I was chosen as a finalist and then interviewed. Shortly after I got the exciting call I was selected to be apart of the program! After I was chosen I was placed in my apprenticeship position which was on the show Murdoch Mysteries, observing directors Warren P. Sonoda and Mars Horodyski.


What was the key thing you learned from the process that you didn't know at all?

Coming from a film background, I had never been on a TV set so that world was completely new to me. I was able to observe my mentors during the prep process, all the way through to the shoot. I learned about how the relationships in the TV world differ from film, which will be invaluable to me when I break into TV. Being on such an established show, Murdoch Mysteries, allowed me to see the behind the scenes magic of the best of Canadian TV, giving me a lot to look forward to.


As significant as the on-set experience, is the relationships I was able to build with my mentors Warren and Mars. They were, and are still, incredibly generous with their advice. They were so open sharing about process, resources, and their paths to success. I am thankful to this apprenticeship for creating an opportunity where I got to spend a considerable amount of time getting to know them and learning from them.


In addition to the apprenticeship on the TV show, the program also includes a free pass to TIFF, access to exclusive networking events during the festival, as well as a summit with private panels featuring some of the most influential people working in the Canadian film & TV industry. We also had monthly online chats with industry professionals, giving us the opportunity to ask questions and gain an in depth knowledge of many more aspects of the Canadian film & TV industry. We got a membership to The Academy which gives us access to a lot of great panels including the programming during Canadian Screen Week.


Completing the program I have gained many new contacts in the different areas of industry, new supporters and a lot of great exposure of myself as an artist just from being one of the participants. I learned a lot, made lasting friendships with the other participants, and grew as a filmmaker and person. I look forward to continuing to apply the knowledge I learned in this program throughout my career. Thanks to the Canadian Academy and all of the sponsors for creating such a wonderful opportunity for emerging creators.

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