National Screen Institute

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National Screen Institute of Canada
National Screen Institute (logo).jpg
Former names
Canadian Screen Institute
Established April 7, 1986; 31 years ago (1986-04-07)
Budget $2,005,486
Location Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Co-chairmen Brad Pelman
Raja Khanna

The National Screen Institute of Canada (NSI) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.[1][2] The organization describes itself as "Canada's national film, television and digital media training school for writers, directors and producers." The NSI was created in 1986 as a renaming of the "Canadian Screen Institute" (CSI),[3][4] and originally functioned as part of the University of Alberta,[5][6] and is Canada's oldest nationally recognized film and television training school.[7]


In 1984, Canadian filmmakers met in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada at "Symposium 84 – Local Heroes",[8] held during the first Local Heroes Film Festival which showcased independent Canadian short films and features from around the world.[3] In 1985, discussions on strategies resulted in "DramaLab" as a hands-on development program for producers, directors and writers to have the opportunity to learn the film industry and develop their skills.[4][6] One of the 1985 artistic directors was film director Allan King who recognized that the program filled a void, as at that time there were no filmmaking courses being offered in Canadian universities or technical schools.[9]

In a decision to further meet a need for film and television training outside larger metropolitan centers, the "Canadian Screen Institute" (CSI) was formed on April 7, 1986, adopting both DramaLab and Local Heroes as its two flagship programs.[3][10] By the end of 1986, the organization's name had been changed to National Screen Institute.[11] Originating as part of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, the institute began with an annual operating budget of $360,000 a year, one-third of which was provided by the Alberta government.[5][6]

In 1990, the NSI's Board of Directors introduced another program evolved from DramaLab called "NSI Drama Prize", in which filmmaker participants would work to build their skills in a format that combined production incentives, mentorship and professional development workshops.[12]

In 1997 "NSI Features First" began, a professional development program introduced for writers, directors and producers working on their first or second feature film,[13] to provide training opportunities, an enhancement of knowledge base, networking opportunities and skill sets required to shepherd their films though to completion.

In 1998, the NSI opened a second office in Winnipeg and in 1999 introduced a second Local Heroes Festival to Winnipeg that screened exclusively Canadian film and videos. In spring 2001 the NSI consolidated its operations in Winnipeg, transferring the Edmonton Local Heroes Film Festival to the Edmonton International Film Festival Society and refocused and renamed the Winnipeg Local Heroes Festival to NSI Film Exchange Canadian Film Festival.[14]

In completing early plans of the organization to develop stories for the big and small screens, "NSI Global Marketing" was introduced in 2001. Participants are required to have a show that has aired on national television and have a project in development to qualify for the program intended to equip participants with the tools to succeed in a distribution marketplace.[15]

"NSI Totally Television" was begun in 2002 as a program to help individuals working in the television industry sharpen their skills, tune their concepts, and work toward getting a broadcast development deal.[7]


It currently operates with funding provided by Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism[16] and Winnipeg Arts Council,[17] with benefactors including Shaw Media,[16] Telefilm Canada,[18] CTV,[19] The Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, NBC Universal, Women in Media Foundation, the Government of Canada, and the Government of Manitoba.[16]


As part of its outreach programs for Aboriginal peoples in Canada, "NSI New Voices" was introduced in 2005 as a program for young Aboriginal adults interested in a career in film and television. Skills development begins with a "Spirit Day", including spiritual leaders and participants speaking about personal goals, and a traditional feast and pipe ceremony.[20]

In the Fall of 2010, NSI began "NSI Aboriginal Journalism" as a pilot program designed for Aborigine candidates interested in journalism, to train individuals in the skills necessary to pursue a career in journalism.[21]

In November 2010, through collaboration with the High Commission of Canada to Ghana and the Goethe Institut-Ghana, NSI premiered short films in Accra, Ghana as part of Ghana’s first-ever Canada Film Week, marking the first time NSI short films have been screened by the Canadian Government in an overseas location.[22][23]

Online Short Film Festival[edit]

In 2008, NSI began the NSI Online Short Film Festival[24] as a year-round online short film festival for films that are of 100% Canadian content to encourage new Canadian talent and give them a venue to share their films, gain experience, and promote their talent. New films are continuously added to the website and are available for viewing at no cost. Four times a year, a jury selects winning entries and awards the A&E Short Filmmakers Award and a cash prize of $2,500.[25]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Brian Land, Edith Eddis (1997). Directory of associations in Canada: Répertoire des associations du Canada, Volume 18. University of Toronto Press. 
  2. ^ "National Screen Institute-Canada, Nsi". Manta. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Beverly Jean Rasporich, David Taras (2001). Beverly Jean Rasporich, David Taras, ed. A passion for identity: Canadian studies for the 21st century (4, illustrated ed.). Nelson Thomson Learning. p. 287. ISBN 9780176168285. 
  4. ^ a b "Film-makers Recruited For Drama Lab". The Phoenix. Google News Archive. April 10, 1987. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Canadian Film-maker Program Expanded". Leader-Post. Google News Archive. May 30, 1986. p. 157. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c staff (June 2, 1986). "Successful program for film makers expanding". Toronto Star. pp. D1. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Up-and-coming Canadian TV Talent Chosen". Mediacaster Magazine. July 26, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Alberta To Host Filmmaker Fest". Ocala Star-Banner. Google News Archive. February 15, 1984. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ Ned Powers (June 22, 1985). "King Sees Potential for Canadian Films". The Phoenix. Google News Archive. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Canadian Screen Institute". National Film Board of Canada. Cinema Canada. June 1986. p. 64. Retrieved February 21, 2011. 
  11. ^ William Beard, Jerry White (2002). William Beard, Jerry White, ed. North of everything: English-Canadian cinema since 1980. Canadian electronic library: Books collection (illustrated ed.). University of Alberta. p. 352. ISBN 9780888643902. 
  12. ^ Anthony Kaufman (1997). "Beyond Toronto". Filmmaker. Independent Feature Project & Independent Feature Project/West. 6: 18, 81. 
  13. ^ "Program calls for fresh filmmakers". Straight. August 30, 2007. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  14. ^ Olson, Donald S. (2006). Canada (14 ed.). John Wiley and Sons. p. 499. ISBN 9780471778172. 
  15. ^ "NSI Global Marketing Program". Animation World News. February 1, 2004. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  16. ^ a b c "Young Aboriginal adults sought for film and TV training program.". First Perspective. February 14, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  17. ^ Sylvia Kolopenuk (April 28, 2010). "Aboriginal Stories Program launches third year". Native Times. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  18. ^ Telefilm Canada (1999). Annual report. The Corporation. 
  19. ^ "CTV Commits to National Screen Institute". Broadcaster Magazine. June 2008. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  20. ^ staff (February 16, 2011). "NSI New Voices seeking Aboriginal talent". Wawatay News. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  21. ^ "Aboriginal Candidates Sought for Professional Journalisn Development". On Screen Manitoba. August 27, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ "National Screen Institute-Canada premieres short films at Ghana's first-ever Canada Film Week". Government of Canada. December 9, 2010. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  23. ^ "Q&A: Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, HE Trudy Kernighan". National Screen Institute. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  24. ^ "History – NSI today". National Screen Institute. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  25. ^ "About: the NSI Online Short Film Festival". National Screen Institute. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 

External links[edit]