Award-winning writer Karen McClellan will serve as Showrunner-in-Residence for the 2022 Scripted Series Lab. Starting in January 2022, Karen will mentor six up-and-coming BC-based screenwriters as they develop her original series in the PSP’s flagship training program. Karen recently served as Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner of The Next Step, a global hit series playing in over 120 countries. During her tenure, the fictional tween dramedy garnered multiple BAFTA and Canadian Screen Award nominations. Prior to joining The Next Step in its fifth season, Karen co-created and executive-produced the Victoria, BC-set mystery digital series Spiral for which she won a 2018 Writers Guild of Canada award. Her other credits cover an array of one-hour and half-hour shows, including CBC’s international hit drama Being Erica and critically acclaimed Cracked, as well as CTV’s beloved comedy Robson’s Arms. A graduate of the Shaw Media Showrunner Training Program, Karen has developed multiple projects for Canadian and American broadcasters and production companies.
We’ve just sent word by email to each of our wonderful applicants for the 2022 Scripted Series Lab. Please note we use mailing list software. If you applied but don’t see an email from us, please check your junk mail. Regardless of your news, good or bad, we are grateful for your interest and cheer you onward in your writing.
Thank you to all of you who sent applications in to us. We know it’s a lot of work. All applicants can expect to hear from the PSP via email in mid November. Please make sure our emails aren’t going to your junk folder!
Join the PSP for an info session on next years Scripted Series Lab.
Hear from our Program Director and past participants about their experience and have your questions answered.
Date: Thursday, July 8th
Location: Zoom Webinar
Screenwriter Corey Liu has been working steadily since finishing the Scripted Series Lab 2019 program, including a stint in the room on Susin Nielsen’s new drama, Family Law, set to premier on Global later this year. Thank goodness he’s getting good at writing in a system rather than letting adrenaline and deadlines run the schedule. Corey says he’s a fan of the Pomodoro method. “You tell yourself you only have to feel crappy for 30m if the writing doesn’t start to flow. (But it usually does.)”
When Corey thinks back to the Scripted Series Lab, he says “learning how to break a mystery with Showrunner, Sarah Dodd, and getting experience with how to organize an episode, was an invaluable experience. In a mystery you’re trying to steer the audience’s attention. You give them enough clues but also you’re trying to manipulate the viewer into thinking certain things. So much is centered in structure. Every act is a unified thought. The same goes for episodes.” He adds, Sarah Dodd taught them that “every show leaves questions that we manipulate the audience into thinking they have the answer to to.”
Corey’s advice to this year’s participants is “don’t get attached to you or ideas in the room.” Most of his ideas don’t end up on the wall, “and that’s fine!” Also, don’t get too automatically critical of other people’s pitched ideas. He adds, “Remember when you get notes from the mentor, still just really sit with it and think about where it might be coming from. What are they identifying even if you don’t love their solution.”
Since completing the Scripted Series Lab 2020, screenwriter Adam Hussein has signed with an agent and continues to work on several projects. He’s particularly excited about a novel he’s been adapting that sounds like a perfect match for his legal background and social justice interests.
Reflecting on his time in the room, Adam thinks showrunner, Rob Cooper, was “really good about pressing us on our networking skills, on taking chances and reaching out as much as we can. This has already served me well and helped me to stay on top of it.”
His advice for future applicants? Work on a sample that is the clearest representation of who you are and what your voice is. “What’s gotten the most attention for me,” he explains, “hasn’t always been my most marketable work but it shows my voice and shows my passion. Focus on that above all else.”
Petie Chalifoux has a whole folder of rejections at home but she says, “you can’t give up. Accept the “no,” and keep moving forward. Never give up. Somebody out there is ready for your project, you just don’t know who until they see it.”
Petie runs a production company, Tohkapi Cinema, with her partner, Micheal Auger. Tohkapi is a Cree word meaning “Opening Eyes” and it’s a 100% owned and operated Indigenous company. Her hard work and her dedication to putting herself out there is bearing fruit. The project she worked on at the PSP, “Disappearing Moon,” has received development money and is currently being worked into a feature and a short. Petie and her team will be filming the short this summer, “and we continue to push for it to become a TV series.” Petie’s documentary, “Bella’s Story,” recently aired on APTN.
Looking back at her time with the PSP, Petie says she’s grateful to Sarah Dodd for holding a space for her to use her voice in the way Petie was taught, in a way that was respectful to her own culture. She adds, the most useful skill she came away with was “learning how to break a story.”
For 2020 Scripted Series Lab Alum, Renuka Singh, writing is a family affair. Her sister is also a working TV writer and the two of them have been hard at work on a new project.
For Renuka, time spent in the room was emboldening. “Near the end of the program,” she muses, “we were reflecting on our experience and Rob Cooper told me I had to get confident and throw my ideas out there. That’s how you get your ideas heard. Your ideas might get shot down but that’s part of the process – it leads to the next idea.” That advice extends to communication with the Showrunner as well. “At any point where you are bumping on something…don’t sit on it. Go to the showrunner and ask for clarification. They will tell you exactly what they are looking for, saving you from spinning your wheels and building up your relationship with the Showrunner.”
Her advice for future participants is practical. “The program is scary and uncomfortable and all encompassing at times, so set your personal affairs up first so you can take time for self-care. The room is so fun! But it’s a challenge too. Make sure you fridge is well stocked.”
Scripted Series Lab 2020 alum, Steve Neufeld, has several projects on the go, but he’s especially excited to be working on his new novel. “It’s nice to really savour the language in a way that’s different from writing scripts. On the other hand, TV is so focused on structure, that I think it’s informed my novel writing in a positive way.”
Thinking back to his PSP days, Steve says, “So many lessons sound simple but you learn through the experience. For example, interrogate your first idea and dig for more ideas. Don’t just go for the first idea. The room is the perfect place to learn this and I try to remember it when I work on solo stuff.”
He thinks of the whole process from pitching to breaking as throwing spaghetti at the wall and not getting your heart broken when something doesn’t stick. “Learning not to let the ‘no’ get you down is so organic to the process,” Steve adds. “Those muscles get flexed every day in the room. I miss the camaraderie.”
Steve’s advice to this year’s participants is to keep contacting people. “Have lots of stuff that you can pitch. Try to enjoy the whole process as a process rather than looking at it as wins and losses. See the whole thing as the dream, not just getting the show green lit.”