NSI Features First – Ninjas and Unicorns

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Very happy to report Features First is already exceeding expectations.

Enough fluff, let’s get right into it.

The day started much like this post. A brief moment of introduction and pleasantries and we rolled up the sleeves and dove in. Day 1 consisted of a table read of 2 of the 4 projects, with all Producers and Writers sitting around a table, joined by NSI’s new Program & Development Manager Shelly Tyler and Super Channel’s Director of Canadian Programming Julie Di Cresce. NSI’s Director of Programming Melissa Kajpust ran the sessions, reading the scripts aloud and providing her feedback as we went.


Matt and I participate in a weekly writer’s workshop program in Calgary, but writers who have never experienced this might find it tough. The feedback is very constructive and tactfully presented, but having non-actors read your screenplay can shed a pretty stark light on words that may sound very smooth in your head. It’s insanely helpful, and provides insight into how an Executive will read it (an essential consideration). If you can find a group to read through your script with you, definitely give it a shot.

The morning was spent reading the first Features First script: Monoceros, written by Vancouver actors, producers, screenwriters and all-around awesome guys Kyle Rideout and Josh Epstein. A dark comedy with some fantastic unique moments and spectacular characters, Monoceros has awesome potential and was great to go through with everyone. Plus it has unicorns…so…


View from Scott’s room…The Unicorn Tower?

After lunch we read Ninja Girl, written by Edmonton playwright-turned-screenwriter Chris Craddock. A kung-fu script with some unique twists, Ninja Girl is a great genre mashup, super fun to read. Chris is joined by Producer Camille Beaudoin from Edmonton’s Mosaic Entertainment (responsible for Caution: May Contain Nuts and Tiny Plastic Men, among other projects).

After our reads we took a field trip to Deluxe’s swanky new post-production facility. Matt wrote all about it here.

Name dropping aside, we’re humbled to be in this company and are already learning a ton from industry pros. The lessons are mostly geared towards “commercial viability” (will it sell?), which is exactly what we were hoping for. I was also excited to find a great mix of projects — Synapse (Sci-Fi) is joined by a Comedy, an Action and a Drama. This blend of genres and demographics should help diversify our experiences throughout the program.

Also Toronto is awesome.

Today’s Top Tips:

  • Think about your audience first. For everything. Always. Forever.
  • Your Antagonist doesn’t think they’re the Antagonist
  • Burrito Boyz makes a delicious feast

More tomorrow. If you have ANY questions please do drop them in the comments or get in touch on Social Media.


Scott Westby

About the Author:

Scott Westby is a Writer, Director and Producer in Calgary's film industry. He's a 2008 graduate of SAIT's Film & VIdeo Production Program, and has years of experience in strategic marketing and content creation for traditional and new media. A Taco/Slurpee enthusiast and a hater of mushrooms.
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