Diverse Screenwriters Program winner named

BC's Tyler Burton Smith lands a paid internship on CTV's The Listener as part of the inaugural screenwriting program.
The Listener

Tyler Burton Smith of Burnaby, BC is the first winner of the inaugural Bell Media Diverse Screenwriters Program with the Writers Guild of Canada (WGC).

The program aims to widen the pool of visible minorities in Canadian screenwriting, and Burton Smith’s prize is a paid internship in the writers’ room of CTV series The Listener (pictured).

Eight participants were selected for the program, headed up by WGC’s Kelly Lynne Ashton, which included a mentoring period of 10 to 12 weeks with a professional screenwriter working with their materials and an aim to deliver a spec and original script.

“The best of those eight wins the internship, but all participants come out of the program with materials that are of professional quality that they can shop around and get hired,” Ashton tells Playback Daily.

Other WGC members helped to structure the program, as well as coming on board as application evaluators, mentors, instructors and guest speakers to give participants a full picture of the life of a professional screenwriter.

“It works very well for senior writers to get involved and give back and they’ve really enjoyed the process,” adds Ashton.

More than 200 people applied for the eight spots in the program, which was far more than Ashton expected. Noticing that a good chunk of the applicants came from the west, the WGC is kicking off a Western Canada edition of the program as well.

The WGC has enough funding to run the program for another four years.

The deadline for Western Canada edition application is Sept. 6, and will be held in Vancouver in December. The program then heads back to Toronto in April 2012.