TV & Film News – DGC reveals Discovery Award long list of emerging directors to watch

DGCThe Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) has announced the 13 listed films for the 2021 DGC Discovery Award, its annual long list of emerging directors to keep an eye on this festival season. They include Trevor Mack, BC, Portraits from a Fire; Danis Goulet, ON, Night Raiders; Kaveh Nabatian, Que., Sin La Habana; Jorge Thelien Armand, Que., La Fortaleza; Jennifer Holness, ON, Subjects of Desire; Brettan Hannam, NS, Wildhood; Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, BC, Kimmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy; Yasmine Mathurin, ON, One of Ours; Thyrone Tommy, ON, Learn to Swim; Philippe Gregoire, Que., The Noise of Engines; Rhayne Vermette, MB, Ste. Anne; Stephanie Joline, NS, Night Blooms; and Caroline Monnet, Que., Bootlegger. 

Hot Docs and Netflix have announced they are partnering on It’s Funny Because It’s True —a new short documentary initiative aimed at discovering the next generation of filmmakers through humorous non-fiction tales. The program will see five filmmakers selected through an open call, who’ll receive $20,000 USD to make their films under the mentorship of the Netflix documentary team and other film professionals. The completed films will premiere in 2022 on @NetflixFilm, the streamer’s social media channels dedicated to all things film. Eligibility and guidelines will be available on Sept. 29 when applications open. Read more here.

Sportsnet will deliver national and regional coverage of all 82 regional Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers broadcasts this season, in addition to 56 exclusive Toronto Maple Leafs games throughout the 2021-22 campaign. Canada’s teams begin their 2021-22 NHL season on Sportsnet on Oct. 13, which also marks the debut of the network’s new state-of-the-art studio. Beginning Oct. 15, regional Canucks coverage includes the return of play-by-play announcer John Shorthouse, game analyst John Garrett and reporter Dan Murphy. Starting Oct. 19, regional Oilers coverage will feature play-by-play host Jack Michaels, alongside game analyst Louie DeBrusk and reporter Gene Principe. Starting Oct. 18, regional Flames games will be called by play-by-play broadcaster Rick Ball, game analysts Kelly Hrudey and Cassie Campbell-Pascall and reporter Ryan Leslie. Beginning Nov. 21, regional Leafs coverage includes play-by-play calls by Chris Cuthbert, alongside game analyst Craig Simpson and reporter Shawn McKenzie.

The Canadian Hockey League (CHL) has announced that six games from the upcoming 2021-22 regular season schedule will be televised by CBC as part of the CHL’s new multi-platform, multi-year broadcast rights partnership. The six games include representation from each of the CHL’s three member leagues beginning Saturday, Oct. 2 featuring the Regina Pats hosting the Prince Albert Raiders. All six CBC games will air Saturdays in October and November at 3 p.m. ET. In addition to being broadcast on CBC TV, all six games will also be available via CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem, in addition to live streaming coverage of one CHL game per week through the end of the regular season.

U SPORTS and CBC Sports have struck a four-year agreement that will see the public broadcaster become the exclusive English-language digital home of U SPORTS National Championships. Under the deal, CBC Sports will be the home of all U SPORTS National Championships broadcasts in English through the 2024-25 season. U SPORTS also announced Monday that CBC Sports will be the English television home of the 56th Vanier Cup at Université Laval’s TELUS-UL Stadium on Dec. 4. Having returned as an official U SPORTS broadcast partner during the 2019-20 season, CBC will increase its coverage from six championships two years ago to all 19 championships this year. 

Dan Levy

Dan Levy has struck a first-look feature and scripted content deal with Netflix that will see the Schitt’s Creek actor/writer/director write and produce. He’ll start with an original untitled romantic comedy, co-produced by SISTER’s Stacey Snider and Kate Fenske. His TV deal with the streamer will start in July 2022 when his current three-year deal with ABC Signature ends where he currently has four projects in the works. Of the nine Primetime Emmys Schitt’s Creek won last year, Levy claimed four including Outstanding Comedy Series, Supporting Actor – Comedy Series, and Outstanding Writing and Directing – Comedy Series.

Boat Rocker has landed a first-look deal with Cleve Keller and Dave Noll, the award-winning creative producers behind over 50 television series, including the Chopped franchise. Keller and Noll will develop and produce original unscripted programming for Boat Rocker under their Keller Noll banner. They previously had a first look deal with Entertainment One. Previous credits include syndicated game shows Punchline (Fox) and Face the Truth (CBS) and Rocco’s Dinner Party (Bravo).

Piazza Entertainment says production is underway in Manitoba and Ontario on new original drama, SKYMED, for CBC and Paramount+, the ViacomCBS streaming service. Created by Julie Puckrin, the serialized character-driven series features an ensemble cast that includes Natasha Calis (Nurses), Ace (Aason) Nadjiwan (Batwoman), Morgan Holmstrom (Siberia), Praneet Akilla (Nancy Drew), Thomas Elms (The Order), Mercedes Morris (Between), Kheon Clarke (Riverdale), Rebecca Kwan (Taken), Braeden Clarke (Outlander), and Aaron Ashmore (Killjoys). Set to premiere in 2022-23, the high stakes medical rescue drama follows budding nurses and air ambulance pilots, set in remote Northern Canada. 

Leslie Norville

Black Life: A Canadian History, an eight-part docuseries exploring the history of the Black experience in Canada, has been greenlit by CBC. In addition to showrunner Leslie Norville and Northwood Entertainment’s Miranda de Pencier, NHL All-Star P.K. Subban (Ugly Duck Productions) is on board to executive produce as is journalist and filmmaker Nelson George, and Black Lives Matter Canada co-founder Sandy Hudson. Norville and de Pencier have also assembled a team of consulting producers and writers, including former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, rapper and broadcaster Shad, and activist Ravyn Wngz. The producers will partner with eight Black Canadian directors, one for each episode, with the series to premiere on CBC and CBC Gem in 2023.  

LISTEN: As cult CHCH-TV kids’ series Hilarious House of Frightenstein celebrates its 50th anniversary, Michelle Melanson and Ken Cuperus of Headspinner Productions talk to Broadcast Dialogue – The Podcast about the debut of new pre-school adaptation Happy House of Frightenstein, and the responsibility of caretaking a Canadian pop culture institution. Click here for a sneak peek of the updated live action adaptation, Headspinner is currently pitching.

Distribution360 has picked up Happy House of Frightenstein as part of the distributor’s push into scripted formats. Also part of its fall slate are marblemedia’s Race Against the Tide, available both as a 10 x 30 series and as a format. Best in Miniature, 10 x 60 and format, also created by marblemedia, is another skills-based competition format in which expert miniaturists are tasked with building their dream home in miniature form at 1:12 scale. Rounding out the new factual competition shows is Season 2 of Blown Away, 10 x 30. 

Sebastian Clovis

Great Pacific Media (GPM), the unscripted division of Thunderbird Entertainment Group, in partnership with Corus Studios, has announced the start of principal photography on HGTV Canada’s Gut Job in Toronto. Gut Job (8×60) will see the return of fan-favourite Canadian contractor Sebastian Clovis from popular lifestyle series, $ave My Reno. In the new series, Clovis will guide property owners through the biggest home renovations of their lives. Gut Job will air on HGTV Canada in 2022 with casting underway in the GTA.

Blue Ant Media is marking its 10-year anniversary this month, announcing 10 new and returning originals to premiere on its portfolio of Canadian specialty networks. They include Cottage Life’s highest-rated original, Life Below Zero: Canada, which has been renewed for a second season, a Canadian adaptation of the BBC Studios format. Also returning to Cottage Life, is Blue Ant Media and APTN co-production Merchants of the Wild (Season 4) and Ice Vikings (Season 3). New on T+EThe Lost Colony of Roanoke (Season 1), which follows a team of archaeologists as they dig for evidence to help solve one of America’s oldest and most controversial mysteries. Blue Ant has also greenlit new docuseries Griff’s Great Canadian Adventure, the first original commission for BBC First in Canada since Blue Ant Media launched the channel in partnership with BBC Studios last March. Blue Ant has also greenlit documentary specials, The Digital Divide (working title) and Strange Creatures (wt) for BBC Earth.

T+E original horror anthology series, Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life, premieres Oct. 15. Executive produced by Eli Roth, the carefully curated collection of ghost stories plays out like mini horror films, immersing audiences in the world of those being haunted. Based on real stories, the victims’ first-hand accounts are enhanced with dramatic reconstructions. The series also captures unexplainable events taking place behind the scenes during production, from flickering lights to strange noises and electrical devices coming to life on their own. The series premieres during T+E’s Creep Week Halloween event running from Oct. 9-17.

Shaftesbury has announced that Season 3 of Departure has begun production in St. John’s, NL and Toronto. Produced by Shaftesbury, in association with Corus Entertainment, Starlings Television and Red Arrow Studios International, the drama is directed by Canadian Screen Award winner T.J. Scott (Orphan Black, Star Trek: Discovery), who is also one of the series executive producers. Departure is created by Vincent Shiao with Jackie May serving as showrunner.

Bell Media says it ended the 2020/21 broadcast year, claiming the top three entertainment specialty channels among Adults 18-49 with a total of five in the Top 10 among A25-54, according to Numeris audience data supplied by the network. Bell says CTV Comedy Channel was once again the most-watched entertainment specialty channel in the A25-54 and 18-49 demos, for a third consecutive year. Discovery and CTV Drama Channel joined CTV Comedy in the Top 3, as the #2 and #3 entertainment specialty channels, respectively, for A18-49. Rounding out the Top 10, CTV Sci-Fi Channel secured the #9 spot for both A25-54 and A18-49, while Much claimed #10 for A25-54. Bell Media says its specialty programming included four of the Top 10 most-watched series for A25-54, including Star Trek: Discovery, which claimed the #1 spot for the second year in a row. Sitting at #4, #5, and #6 among A25-54 are Discovery’s Gold Rush; The Handmaid’s Tale on CTV Drama Channel; and Resident Alien on CTV Sci-Fi Channel, which was also the top new series on entertainment specialty television for the broadcast year.

CTV Comedy Channel’s all-new Roast Battle Canada debuts Oct. 11. The eight-episode, half-hour series features two scorching standoffs between a pair of Canadian comics looking to be crowned battle victor by a panel of judges. As previously announced, overseeing the battle of the barbs is host Ennis Esmer, along with judges Russell Peters, Sabrina Jalees, and Jeff Ross Presents: Roast Battle Season 1 semi-finalist, K. Trevor Wilson. Set to air Mondays at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT, all-new episodes will also be available to stream on CTV.ca and the CTV app

Dustin Milligan

Copper Quartz Media has announced that Dustin Milligan has boarded the documentary feature Food for the Rest of Us as executive producer. The film, which had its world premiere at DOXA, will also launch at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema for an in-theatre screening on World Food Day on Oct. 16 with a portion of the proceeds going to Foodshare Toronto. Milligan is best known for his performances in Rutherford Falls, Schitt’s Creek and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race, but he is also a born and raised Yellowknifer which drew director Caroline Cox and co-producer Tiffany Ayalik to the project. Milligan executive produces alongside Stuart Henderson of 90th Parallel Productions.   

AMI, in partnership with Nikki Ray Media (Fire Masters, Home to Win), has begun principal photography on six Season 1 episodes of AMI-tv’s Fashion Dis in Toronto. The show challenges traditional norms that lack inclusion, with each episode featuring the head-to-toe overhaul of a frustrated style seeker discouraged by an industry that lacks adaptive options. Series experts include Ardra Shephard, a blogger and leader in the Multiple Sclerosis community; Bella Strange, a makeup artist catering to the LGBTQ+, disability and special effects communities; Susan Shipley, a master stylist with extensive experience in accessible hair care services; Izzy Camilleri, style expert and a pioneer in adaptive clothing; fashion stylist Melonie Lawrence, and photographer KC Armstrong.

Hollywood Suite kicks off a full month of horror films and thrillers this October with the Canadian broadcast premiere of horror anthology series Slasher: Flesh & Blood on Oct. 4. The fourth season, starring horror legend David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome), will roll out with two new episodes airing each Monday in October at 9 p.m. ET on Hollywood Suite’s 2000s channel. Episodes will be available on Hollywood Suite On Demand the Wednesday following their premiere. The thrills and chills will continue all month long with horror franchises including The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Friday the 13th (1980), Scream 3 (2000), Bride of Chucky (1998) and Insidious (2010), alongside films from horror masters Dario Argento and Alfred Hitchcock

TELUS Optik TV customers can now access British and international programming from AMC Networks’ Acorn TV. Specializing in British television, Acorn TV features original and exclusive new and classic dramas, mysteries, and comedies including Whitstable Pearl, Manhunt starring Martin Clunes, My Life is Murder starring Lucy Lawless, and Bloodlands starring James Nesbitt, among other series.

OneSoccer has launched as a linear channel on TELUS’ Optik TV service, going live on TELUS’ portfolio of extended, free preview channels as HD channel 980. Optik customers gain access to a wide range of Canadian men’s and women’s soccer with 80% of the channel’s programming Canadian content, including live coverage of the Canadian Premier League (CPL), Canadian Championship, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team games in the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, and Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team as they vie for a place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, as well as a range of international soccer. Studio programs include OneSoccer Today, hosted by Andi Petrillo, and featuring pundits Kristian Jack and Oliver Platt.