Auditions will be held on Monday, February 11.

Monday evening classes start on February 25, with the last class on April 15. The Upstart wrap party is on Tuesday, April 23.

(Total number of classes is 8 plus 1 day for auditions/interviews and 1 day for wrap party)

Actors – experience working with different directors and keep your talents fresh by working on new scenes each week.

Directors – experiment while gaining experience working with talented actors.

Writers – there’s no cost to submit a script! If it’s appropriate for UPSTART, our participants will shoot the scene while you watch your script come to life!


Facilitator: Karen Ryan

Email to learn more and to register for auditions! More information is available on AMPIA’s Upstart page.


What is Upstart?

UPSTART is a program which provides Alberta film talent (actors, writers, and directors) an ongoing, affordable place to practice. The program consists of 8 weeks of scene studies, which are performed for the camera, and edited together for review of the participants.

Who is Upstart for?

UPSTART is for Alberta film and television actors, directors, and writers of all levels, who want to practice their skills. Participants are expected to have some basic experience in their field. This could be training through an accredited program, or completed work in a particular field, like writing or directing a short/independent/ student film, or theatre project.

How are participants chosen?

Participants are chosen through an audition. The purpose of the audition is to ensure a healthy mix of male & female, young & and old, and both new & experienced talent. The purpose of the audition is not to exclude less experienced talent. Space in the program is limited to ensure everyone gets ample hands on practice, so not everyone who auditions will be chosen. However, participants not chosen for the next session will be given preference for participation in upcoming UPSTART sessions.

What happens with the edited scene studies?

The edited scene studies are for the training purposes of the participants only. They are not for sale or distribution of any kind. Participants will receive a USB stick of all the completed scenes at the end of the workshop for the personal use of the participants involved. These USB sticks cannot be broadcast or distributed or posted on the internet. This program is approved by ACTRA, and ACTRA members are encouraged to join.

When and where is Upstart held?

Upstart will be running for 8 Monday evenings from 6:30 – 10:00 pm.

What kind of scene studies will we do?

The scenes performed in UPSTART are simple, short dialogue based scenes from all genres of film and television. Past scripts include scenes from CrashErin BrockovichFour RoomsLegally BlondeSex and the CitySomething’s Gotta GiveStir of Echoes, and many others. The scenes may also be from original screenplays, depending on what is submitted.

I am a writer, can I workshop my material?

We encourage writers to submit scenes which are appropriate for the format of the program. These would be dialogue based scenes of roughly 4–5 pages in length with significant roles for 3 or more actors. Use of submitted scenes is subject to the approval of the UPSTART coordinator. Scenes involving stunts or sexual contact are not appropriate of UPSTART. Those submitting scenes to UPSTART should be prepared to get constructive feedback from the program participants. The program is not intended to produce a finished product for any kind of distribution. The purpose is only to demonstrate how the director and actors interpret the screenplay they are given.

Who runs Upstart?

UPSTART is created by Jonathan Joffe and supported by AMPIA, ACTRA Alberta, Alberta Film, and Telefilm Canada. Sessions are coordinated by a facilitator.

How can I pay?

Full payment is to be made at the beginning of the first session. UPSTART is a “break even” program so exact cost cannot be determined until after all cast and crew have been selected. The approximate cost will be $180.00 (Members of AMPIA, ACTRA or WIFTA), or $230.00 (Non-Members). Payment can be made by cash, Visa, Mastercard, or cheque (payable to AMPIA). Receipts will be issued once AMPIA has received payment.

Why should I join Upstart?

UPSTART provides ongoing hands on practice for actors, writers and directors. Aside from the ability to practice your craft, it is an excellent opportunity to network with other local actors, writers, and directors of various levels of experience. High-profile guests may also be brought in to work with UPSTART participants.