The Reelworld Producer Accelerator Program is a year-long curriculum that provides support to the 2021 producers to continue to develop their projects optioned last year. The 2021 Reelworld Producers went through an intensive 12-month program - meeting with over 40 mentors, attending Banff for pitches and networking, and TIFF so they could broaden their circle of contacts. With many receiving Letters of interest to access development funds, Reelworld will continue to support their process.
Meet the 12 Producers in the Reelworld Producer Accelerator Program
Leena Minifie is a Gitxaala and British Digital Strategist, Impact producer, and the founder of Stories First Productions. She has expertly engaged niche and BIPOC audiences internationally on projects such as ‘Indian Horse’, ‘The Grizzlies Movie’, ‘Monkey Beach’, ‘America Divided’, and ‘British Columbia - A History’. Awarded a fellowship with the 2019 Banff SPARK Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media and producer of the 4-part documentary series, ‘British Columbia – A History’, Minifie uses her education in Indigenous Governance and New Media to blend digital and grassroots strategies on social change, education and justice initiatives. This co-founding board member of Native Land Digital and the Indigenous Media Reporting fund at Ricochet (English) decolonized the processes, structure, and policies at the Sakewewak Collective. Leena presented on decolonizing media at New York University’s Personal Democracy Forum and Detroit’s Allied Media Conference. A board member and organizer of the first Indigenous cohort of Web of Change, a digital practitioners retreat, Leena excels in bringing people together.
"I have deep gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this program, and for the Tonya Williams and the Reelworld team. It will be an invaluable experience."
From working as an in-store retail manager for Target Canada and Fed Ex Office to her role as a Project Manager for Corus Entertainment’s Content & International Distribution teams, and now most recently as Commercial Account Manager Trainee (Media and Entertainment) at RBC - Margaret has a diversified portfolio of experience. With a long-standing passion for film and television, Margaret has also worked with organizations such as TIFF, NBCUniversal, and as a CMPA Diversity Mentor Trainee with Conquering Lion Pictures in Toronto. She currently works for RBC as a Commercial Account Manager, supporting the Media and Entertainment sector. Having graduated from her MBA in 2018, Margaret looks to build a career in bringing the best in diverse and inclusive stories to the screens on a global scale and behind the scenes
"Being part of the Reelworld Producer’s Program, not only gives me the opportunity to learn how to become a producer from seasoned industry professionals but also gives me the opportunity to learn from my colleagues in the program."
Jose Holder is a UK born professional illustrator and film director living in Montreal, Quebec. After years spent moonlighting as art instructor and architectural draftsman in a parallel universe, Jose reimagined a career in storytelling where storyboards and sequential art opened up new opportunities in film, television, advertising, stage, animation, & comics. His directorial debut, a sci-fi horror short called REDRUBY, has gone on to win 31 festival awards worldwide, and will soon be released as part of a larger transmedia project. He currently works as a Senior Concept Artist for Warner Bros. Games, has plans to produce two short films in 2021, and writes short speculative fiction on a weekly basis.
"The opportunity to further one’s skills as a producer and storyteller in the arts is of immeasurable worth. I am very honoured to have been selected for the 2021 pioneering initiative supporting emerging producers of colour."
Emerging Producer, BC
Thea Loo is an emerging film producer and director with a BFA in Film Production from Simon Fraser University. She began her producing career through an administration internship at the Vancouver Film Studios and working as a production office assistant on the Amazon Studios TV series “Man in the High Castle”. Thea’s most recently produced short film “No More Parties” (Dir. Natalie Murao) premiered at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and was created with the funding support of the National Film Board of Canada. No More Parties has been selected to be part of Canada’s Not Short on Talent at Clermont-Ferrand 2021 cohort. Thea is currently in pre-production for her short documentary Nanay which will premiere at the Voices With Impact 2021 online festival in June. All of her work focuses on telling the stories of racialized people in Canada and in particular, investigating the Asian Canadian experience.
"I am looking forward to being part of a program that offers a strong foundation for my professional development as a producer in the Canadian entertainment industry."
Dilani Rabindran, BSc. MBA (www.dilanirabindran.com) is a Consulting Professional primarily focused on the international entertainment and media industries. She is the Founder & Managing Director of Viewfinder Film Consulting (www.viewfinderfc.com), an international firm dedicated to the marketing & production of independent South Asian cinema. Through VFC Dilani has consulted on over 45 international films, including several Indian National Award winners. She is also the Manager of Marketing Partnerships for Cineplex Entertainment, Canada's largest film exhibitor & leading entertainment provider. Dilani also volunteers her time serving on the boards of Canadian film festivals & offering her consulting skills to organizations shaping the global film industry and helping the community in various ways. Since 2013, Dilani has also been an active columnist & podcast host within the South Asian entertainment space, covering topics such as film, entrepreneurship, and travel.
"I am honored to have been chosen for this initiative, and I look forward to receiving an in-depth look at the Canadian entertainment industry and learning from key mentors in the field, alongside my fellow program candidates."
Vanessa is a trilingual film producer who uses her background as an Industrial Engineer specializing in supply chain management to successfully lead the creative and financial aspects of the filmmaking process. So far, she has produced 1 short film and 3 independent feature films with her writer/director husband. Currently, they are developing 3 new feature films and 1 TV series.
"I'm excited about joining the Reelworld Producer Program since it will allow me to deepen my knowledge as a Canadian producer. Being introduced to and mentored by key industry professionals is an amazing opportunity, and I look forward to learning from the best and growing as a professional. Producing engaging stories is my passion and I want to acquire the necessary tools and advice to achieve excellence."
Yusuf is an aspiring Producer who currently works as an Account Manager in Digital Cinema Distribution at Deluxe Entertainment. A graduate from the 2014 Film and Television Production Program at Humber College, he specialized in Production Management. He has a great passion for this business.
"I'm excited not only for this opportunity to learn and grow as a producer, with the guidance and support of industry leaders behind me, but I'm also incredibly thrilled to know that together we're working toward growing diversity in this industry."
Sonya Lee (she/her) is a producer using visual media and storytelling to drive empathy, education and meaningful change. Sonya focuses on science, natural history, and environmental stories with a social justice lens that amplifies historically marginalized voices. She is currently the Science Producer at Ocean School, an ocean education media project of the National Film Board of Canada, and has produced over 100 media pieces including short docs, 360 immersive experience, web interactives, and AR/VR experiences filmed in Canada's Atlantic coast, Pacific coast, Cocos Island-Costa Rica, and Raja Ampat- Indonesia. She has a background in Marine Biology and International Development Studies and comes to filmmaking from a science communication background. She currently lives in Kjipuktuk/ Halifax.
"I am really excited to learn the nitty-gritty side of being a Producer, This feels like the type of professional development I have been looking for."
Mansa Chintoh is a Director of Legal & Business Affairs at Entertainment One (eOne) – a global independent studio that specializes in the development, acquisition, production, financing, distribution, and sales of entertainment content. She advises on eOne’s business affairs with a focus on film and interactive digital media sales and licensing agreements. Prior to working with eOne, Mansa operated as a sole practitioner, advising her clients including performing artists, managers, music publishers, and independent record labels in all aspects of their business. In her practice, Mansa strives to make comprehension of the law both accessible and inviting. She works to educate artists about their rights, and, to that end, she has contributed on panels about copyright law and artists' rights at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Nia Centre for the Arts, among others. She is a director of the Artists' Legal Advice Services as well as a member of the Black Female Lawyers network and the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers.
"The Reelworld Producer's Program offers accelerated learning, knowledge and networks otherwise only accessible through years of experience in the field."
Omatta Udalor is a producer and actor. This Nigerian-Canadian is not your run-off-the-mill Producer. Graduating in theatre, he went on to further train by attending numerous film workshops. He is a recipient of the Calgary Arts Development authority Individual Artist 2019 Grant of $20,000.00. With Floating Handcuffs Entertainment Inc., he has produced four award-winning short films. Texted (2017): winner of Notable mention award Canada Int. Film Fest 2018.A Path To Somewhere (2018)The Trials Of Miss Mudimbe(2019): Best Actress in a short film award winner at Holly wood North Film Awards 2020 and finalist at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival 2020. Pastor G. (2020) currently in post-production. He also Co-Produced The Citizen (2019) and is currently in pre-production for Decision (2020) as co-producer. He is in the creative process of a sitcom that is sure to put Calgary and Canada on the global map.
"I intend to use the opportunity to learn how stories are told and how I can position myself to tell BIPOC stories that are true and authentic to the peoples that they portray."
Rignam Wangkhang is an award-winning Tibetan Canadian multimedia producer with the CBC. He currently produces the CBC Creator Network, which seeks to improve the relevancy of the public broadcaster by discovering and developing the work of independent filmmakers and digital content creators across Canada. He was elected to Chair DiversifyCBC, an Employee Resource Group that represents over 350 people of colour to champion diversity, foster belonging and be a catalyst for change at the CBC. Rignam is a founding member of The Chyssem Project, a grassroots community effort in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Immigration to create a permanent archival oral history record about the first Tibetans who arrived in Canada in the early 1970s. He has produced documentaries, essays, and reported for the CBC from Yellowknife, Winnipeg, and Toronto.
"I believe this is a unique and much needed opportunity for emerging producers of colour. I am eager to build upon my production experience, learn from industry veterans, and connect with the Reelworld community."
Umang Antariksh Sagar is a creator who is working on excellence. Their perspective is grounded in their identity as an immigrant, South Asian, non-binary, queer person and use the mediums of filmmaking, podcasting, and graphic design to write themselves in, open portals of possibilities, and shape the present. Umang is the creator and executive producer of Possibilities Podcast and they have written & produced the short films Becoming Leela (2018), Nookie (2017), Daily Reflections (2016), among others.
"I am thrilled to be part of the inaugural cohort of the Reelworld Producer Program. This initiative is so essential to broadening our perspectives through the stories we tell, and I am excited to be part of the change."
Thank You to Our Wonderful Mentors for your Time and Contribution
John Marayness, Producer
Lindsay Cox, SVP, Insight Productions
Jennifer Holnes, President, Hungry Eyes Media
Terry Markus, Entertainment lawyer, Humber College
Michael Hirsh, CEO, WOW! Unlimited
Nafisa Murji & Nicole Singh, Director of Talent Development & Associate, Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television
Gosia Kamela, Executive in Charge of Production, CBC
Ngardy Conteh George, Director, Producer, OYA media Group
Cory Bowles, Director, Producer
Glenn Cockburn, Founder/Literary Agent, Meridian Artists Inc.
Floyd Kane, Producer, Showrunner, Circle Blue Entertainment
Todd Berger, Producer
Jennifer Blitz, Director, Tax Credits & Financing Programs, Ontario Creates
Naomi Zener, Entertainment Lawyer, Bereskin & Parr LLP
Sasha Henry & Tamar Bird, Producers, Sunflower Studios
David Cormican, Producer
Nicole Mendes, VP of Scripted Development, Lark Productions
Marney Malabar, Director of Kids TV, TVO
Tina Apostolopoulos, Production Executive, Factual & Reality, Bell Media
Ty Hyland, Production Executive, Finance & Planning, CBC
Sharon Lewis, Director, Producer
Anya McKenzie & Nicky Singh, Managers, Business & Rights, CBC
Nathalie Clermont, VP of Programs and Scripted Development, CMF
Marla Boltman, SVP, Business Affairs & Operations, Halfire Entertainment
Jennifer Shin, Director of Development (Scripted Comedy), CBC
Layth Gafoor, Sports and Entertainment Lawyer, Lucentem Sports
Jane Jankovic, Executive Producer of Documentaries, TVO
Lea Marin, Director of Development (Drama), CBC
Lesley Birchard & Michelle McCree, Exec. in Charge of Production, CBC Docs, Sue Dando, Head of The Nature of Things, CBC
Lalita Krishna, Director/Producer/Co-Chair, Hot Docs Film Festival
Julie Chang, EVP, International Co-Productions, Blue Ant Media
Zach Feldberg & Melanie Le Phan, Exec. in Charge of Production, Digital Originals, CBC
Michael Coutanche, Associate Professor, RTA School of Media