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Professional Development

Jesse Szymanski joins March Madness

By Professional Development

Jesse Szymanski, the Co-Executive Producer on the award-winning dramatic television series Blackstone, will be joining the “Meet the Industry Players” panel discussion at the 2nd Annual March Madness Professional Development Day on Saturday, March 7th.

Jesse will be representing the Women in Film and Television Alberta (WIFTA) as one of the board of directors in Edmonton. Jesse is also a member of AMPIA, the ACCT and CMPA. She volunteers her time to speak on various industry panels and is an active trainer and mentor for young media professionals. Jesse was featured in Avenue Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40”, and was nominated for the Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts Award for Excellence in Artistic Management.

Jesse is joined by Writer’s Guild Member, award-winning screenwriter Conni Massing and ACTRA’s Tina Alford.

“Meet the Industry Players” takes place at 9:15 am at the Shaw Theatre (11762 106 St NW, Edmonton, AB) during March Madness, the action-packed professional development day sponsored by AMPIA, NAIT, Edmonton Arts Council, Alberta Film and Telefilm.

March Madness Itinerary | March Madness 2015_ Registration Form

Guest Speakers at March Madness 2015

By Professional Development


NORM HISCOCK is a Comedy Writer/Producer who has worked on hit television shows such as Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, King of the Hill, Corner Gas, Parks and Recreation and most recently, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  Norm has worked with the biggest broadcasters in the business including COMEDY CENTRAL, HBO, CBC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CTV/Comedy Network.  His work has been recognized in various Emmy, Gemini and Golden Globe nominations and he holds the LEO Award for his work with Corner Gas.


KYLE ARMSTRONG is a Canadian filmmaker and artist. Working with super8 and 16mm as well as lo-fi video, Armstrong frequently uses hand-altering film techniques, employing bleaches, dyes, scratches, and paint to alter both his own footage and found films. His primary focus is on creating short, non-narrative films, which have been screened at various galleries, during live performances and in traditional cinemas around the globe. His films are influenced by filmmakers as diverse as Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Bela Tarr, Alexander Sokurov, Guy Maddin and Andrei Tarkovsky.

Armstrong’s most recent film Magnetic Reconnection received its world premiere at AFI Fest 2012, and has since been selected for SxSW 2013, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Raindance (UK), Guanajuato International Film Festival, CPH:DOX, RIDM, Rooftop Films, Seattle International Film Festival, True/False Documentary Film Festival, won the 2013 Edmonton Film Prize and has been shortlisted for the Cinema Eye Honors and has screened publicly more than 130 times. The film features an original score by Grammy award winning producer/composer Jim O’Rourke, a voice-over by acclaimed singer-songwriter/actor Will Oldham and likely some of the best footage of the aurora borealis ever captured.

Armstrong the past president of the Metro Cinema Society in Edmonton and in 2012 he was a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award. He co-produced Hans Olson’s feature film Figurine, is finishing a dramatic narrative short film and recently completed a video for Bonnie “Prince” Billy available through Drag City Records.


EVA COLMERS is an independent filmmaker who has written, directed and produced a dozen award-winning short films including Granny BabyThe Weightless Traveller and End of the Rope. For the National Film Board of Canada, she has written and directed 2 long-format documentaries, The Elder Project, The Enemy Within and also one short doc (presently in post-production). Her short films have been invited to over 100 national and international festivals all around the globe and she has received several awards for her work. With a background in theatre, Eva has also created media installations and video imagery for theatre, dance and music performances. Eva is very involved in her local arts community and enjoys meeting new people, places and challenges.


MICHAEL MAXXIS, the two-time MUCH Music Video Award (MMVA) winner, eight-time MMVA nominee and two-time Juno Nominee, has cemented himself into the music video scene with his raw visual style. Michael has directed music videos for artists such as City and Colour, K-OS, The Black Angels, Billy Talent, Our Lady Peace, Dev, Sum 41, Hollerado, Alexisonfire, Mother Mother and Hot Hot Heat. Michael has also achieved international acclaim with his short film Steak and Milk which has screened at festivals around the world, followed by 8 for Infinity, a BravoFACT short, starring Jimmy Gnecco and David Carradine.


BLAKE MCWILLIAM is an award winning independent producer based out of Edmonton, Alberta whose work has screened nationally and internationally, most recently at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Focusing on narrative, commercial and music video forms, he emphasizes the exploration of film formats in his work. He is currently producing two television pilots.


KEVIN MARTIN is a writer, actor and owner of The Lobby DVD Shop, one of the last video stores standing in Edmonton, and has been running the shop since 2005. He is also Co-Founder of Edmonton’s genre film festival DEDFEST along with Derek Clayton which has been going since 2007.

Martin’s knowledge and love of the genre films made teaming up with filmmakers Cody Kennedy and Timothy Rutherford a natural transition. Using his background of pop culture knowledge and creative writing Martin has joined the House Of Heathens and continues to work on his acting skills for future projects. His contagious passion for genre films and his lifetime of tribute to them inspires the adoration of the next generation, whom he introduces via both his store and film festival.



NORM HISCOCK to Keynote March Madness!

By Professional Development

Television Writer/Producer Norm Hiscock will be the keynote speaker at AMPIA’s 2nd Annual March Madness Professional Development Day in Edmonton. Norm has worked on hit television shows Kids in the Hall, Saturday Night Live, King of the Hill, Corner Gas, Parks and Recreation and most recently, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  

March Madness connects delegates with the top creatives, broadcasters and influencers in the film and television industry. Delegates receive a full day of panel discussions, prizes and private pitch-meetings with Canadian Broadcasters. Keep posted for announcements of more guest speakers.


AMPIA Members $25, Non Members $75*
*Rates increase after February 20th.

Registration is now open: March Madness 2015_ Registration Form



StoryWorld Quest 2014

By Professional Development

The StoryWorld Quest Conference presented by AMPIA and NAIT was a huge success! The two and a half day gathering brought the best of the best to discuss the opportunities and challenges of new media in an intimate and affordable setting. Thanks to our speakers and delegates, our sponsors, and a big thank you to Createasphere for designing such a memorable event!

Missed the Conference?
Check out the Slideshare Presentation created by speaker Matt Doherty (Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide) and NAIT’s Storify Recap to see what you missed! Also stay tuned to the #SWQ14 hashtag as information on the conference continues to circulate.

BIOWARE to Showcase Dragon Age at STORYWORLD QUEST

By Professional Development

Aaryn Flynn, the Studio GM of BioWare, will be showcasing the third instalment of the Dragon Age franchise at the international transmedia conference STORYWORLD QUEST.


Aaryn will dive deep into the importance of narrative & story, share his experiences during the “making of,” and give a sneak peek at this  yet-to-be-released version of the popular game.


STORYWORLD QUEST is a never seen before line up of Canadian and US content, media, and entertainment professionals gathering to educate, discuss and connect in the new world of content. The conference takes place October 24-26 in Edmonton, Alberta and will be held at the Shaw Theatre in NAIT. Registration is still open – but tickets are limited! Register now!

March Madness Gallery

By Professional Development

AMPIA’s 1st Annual March Madness Professional Development Day brought Alberta’s leading producers, unions, guilds and production companies together for full day of information and networking. Our keynote speaker, award-winning documentary filmmaker Velcrow Ripper (Occupy Love), flew in from NYC to speak to delegates about innovative crowd-sourcing and building authentic connections through social media.

Velcrow Ripper Announced as Keynote Speaker

By Professional Development

Award-winning documentary Filmmaker Velcrow Ripper will be the keynote speaker at the 1st Annual March Madness Professional Development Day. Join us Saturday, March 15 at the Shaw Theatre (NAIT Campus, Edmonton, AB) where the Director of Occupy Love (2012) will be discussing the new revolutionary practices of crowd-sourcing, building audiences and self distribution.

“If anyone can find the silver lining in a mushroom cloud, it’s this astounding, thoughtful filmmaker.” – The National Post

Velcrow Ripper

More About Velcrow Ripper

Velcrow Ripper is a Canadian Academy Award (Genie) winning filmmaker, writer, sound designer and public speaker. He creates powerful, theatrical feature documentaries that deal with the central issues of our times.
His most recent film, Occupy Love is the culmination of his epic “Fierce Love Trilogy” which began with Scared Sacred, named one of Canada’s Top 10 movies of 2004, and winner of the 2005 Genie (Canadian Academy Award) for best feature documentary. It continued with 2008′s award winning Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action.
Ripper’s earlier films include In The Company of Fear, a documentary on non-violent resistance to the “dirty war” in Colombia; Golden Gate Award-winning Open Season, about bear hunters and the activists who “hunt the hunters”; and the multi-award-winning non-fiction feature Bones of the Forest, (co-directed with Heather Frise) about the struggle to save the ancient forests of British Columbia (Best of the Festival, 1996 Hot Docs! Festival; and Best Feature Doc, 1996 Genie Awards).
Velcrow’s films are stylistically innovative, engaging and moving. Particular attention is given to the sound design. He is well known for his award-winning sound design of such films as The Corporation (Best Sound, Leo Awards), and A Place Called Chiapas (Best Sound, Hot Docs!; Best Sound, Leo Awards). He was recently named “one of the top ten filmmakers to watch in 2012″ by the Independent Film magazine. Website:


This workshop is FREE for AMPIA, FAVA and CSIF members and students of NAIT, SAIT, or Red Deer College. Non-Members fee is $75.00. Call AMPIA to register (780) 944-0707.

March Madness – Professional Development Day

By Professional Development

AMPIA’s first annual “March Madness” is the perfect crash course for filmmakers and producers! If you’ve been standing on the periphery of the industry and trying to figure it out all by yourself, this is the time to GET SERIOUS! Get involved and find the direction you’re looking for.

Already a member? This is the time to get up-to-speed on current trends in the industry and network with exciting new people.

Come down and meet the representatives from Alberta’s leading industries, including: Scot Morison (Writers Guild of Canada), Brad Stromberg (Edmonton Film Commission), Tina Alford (ACTRA Alberta), Sandi Perkins (Super Channel), Dylan Pearce (12pt Media), Camille Beaudoin (Mosaic Entertainment) Michael Jorgensen (Myth Merchant Films) and more!


The award-winning documentary filmmaker hailed as a “Cinematic Activist” will be speaking on new revolutionary practices of crowd sourcing, building audiences and self distribution.

Read full itinerary here: March Madness

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! Email or call 1-800-814-7779. Workshop is FREE for members of AMPIA, FAVA, and CSIF and students of NAIT, SAIT, and Red Deer College.  Non-Members fee is $75.00

Upstart Calgary September 30 – December 2, 2013

By Professional Development

Upstart is an Alberta based film and television talent development program presented by AMPIA, Jonathan Joffe Pictures, funded through Alberta Film, Telefilm and SAIT, and coordinated by Calgary actor Karen Ryan. Now in its 14th term in Calgary, over 240 Upstart participants have performed in hundreds of scenes which have been shot and edited for the review of everyone involved.

The program brings together local actors, writers, and directors to perform simple scene studies for the camera which are shot and edited for the review of everyone involved.

Calgary’s Upstart sessions will be held on Monday evenings from 6:30 – 10:00 pm at SAIT, room MD 212 beginning Monday, September 30 (no classes Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day).  The program will run for 8 weeks.  The group will shoot 16 scene studies, rotating the participants through a variety of actor/director/writer combinations. Two scenes are filmed per week, those scenes are then edited for viewing the following week. Directors will direct 4 out of 8 nights and Actors will act in all 8 scenes.

Auditions/interviews* will be held at SAIT on the evening of Monday, September 9, 2013Please contact to arrange an audition/interview time.  Actors, please send a copy of your resume and head-shot as well.

With the Support of:

Upstart sponsor banner 2013

For FAQ and more information, visit Upstart Calgary.

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