Future women leaders head to Whistler for industry intensive

Michelle Morgan (pictured), Anna Cooley and JJ Neepin are among the eight women selected for the Women In the Director's Chair's Story and Leadership program.

Michelle Morgan

Heartland actress Michelle Morgan (pictured) and two alumni from the Canadian Academy’s Apprenticeship for Women Directors are among eight women selected for the Women In the Director’s Chair’s Story & Leadership program.

Part of the Whistler Film Festival, the program offers participants the opportunity to work with industry mentors to develop their feature film or webseries projects and attend sessions on leadership, story development, marketing and working with actors. Attendees will also participate in roundtables and one-on-one meetings with industry guests from organizations like CBC Films, Telefilm Canada, The Harold Greenberg Fund and Telus Storyhive, to name a few.

Morgan will develop her feature-length debut The Plains through WIDC’s initiative. Meanwhile, Anna Cooley and her webseries Everyone We Know Will Be There and JJ Neepin’s film Luminous will also participate in the program. Cooley and Neepin previously took part in the Canadian Academy’s inaugural Women Directors apprenticeship, which sees female directors paired with a working director.

Other participants also working on their first features include Penny Eizenga and her project A Far Cry; Sweet Release from Meeshelle Neal; and Heliophilia from Mia Fiona Kut.

Following her debut film Love in the Sixth, Jude Klassen will work on developing her second musical feature, Theoretically Sentient. Love in the Sixth, which previously screened at WFF in 2016, follows a mom and her preteen daughter as they negotiate life and romance.

Finally, Pamela Gallant will work on her rural drama Monica’s News through the program.

Mentors for this year’s Story & Leadership program include Deanne Foley (An Audience of Chairs), Siobhan Devine (The Birdwatcher),  Linda Coffey (Never Steady, Never Still), Lori Triolo (Blackstone) and Simon Fraser University professor Carolyn Mamchur.

WIDC alumnae headed to Whistler include Rama Rau’s Honey Bee, Bella Ciao! from director Carolyn Combs and Into Invisible Light from Shelagh Carter. All three will compete for the festival’s $15,000 Borsos Prize for Best Canadian Feature.

The Whistler Film Festival runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, 2018.