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Series Accelerator

Returning for the second year at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, the TIFF Series Accelerator programme, presented by Canada Media Fund, will offer tailored mentorship for eight emerging Canadian series-creator teams from under-represented communities to refine their pitches and develop a business plan for their projects.

The two-day mentorship intensive will have two priorities: refining the pitch and project materials with mentorship from a pitch coach and industry professionals; and developing ideas and strategies for finding international partners and moving projects forward. Teams will receive guidance on topics such as:

  • International broadcasters, co-producers, and how to work with international partners
  • Production — budgets, casting, crew
  • Story and audience
  • International financing, distribution, and sales

These meetings will feed into developing a business strategy so that participants can use the remainder of the Festival to identify and pitch to partners, and further develop their project.

What’s included

  • A two-day series development intensive, taking place in-person during the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
  • Mentorship from TIFF’s programming team and industry experts
  • Peer-to-peer mentorship from other creator teams in the programme
  • Support in both expanding the participants’ creative network and developing their project
  • Access to the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
  • Access to TIFF Primetime programming
  • Access to TIFF’s Industry Conference, Business Centre, and Delegate Resources
  • A complimentary one-year TIFF Membership, which includes discounts on film tickets at TIFF Lightbox
  • Selected participants not based in the Toronto area will be provided with travel and accommodation support to attend the programme
A group photo of the Series Accelerator Participants

2023 Series Accelerator Participants

Series Project: A Confusion of Tongues

Writer & Producer
Heidy Lynch

Canadian Screen Award–nominated/international award–winning writer, actor, and producer Heidi Lynch is based in London, Ontario. Female-focused narratives that explore underrepresented storylines lead her body of work. On the narrative side, you can watch her work as a showrunner in both seasons of Avocado Toast the series on Amazon Prime (OUTtv) and Peacock TV. Lynch’s production company Bone Vault Inc. was awarded the IPF/CMF development and production financing for Finding Green in 2022. She is currently co-producing the feature film entitled What I Call Her by Ellie Moon, in partnership with the multi-award winning Boss&Co films. As a writer, she is developing an exciting new psychosexual thriller entitled A Confusion of Tongues with science consultant/screenwriter Cosima Herter (Orphan Black, Snowpiercer). In the unscripted space, Lynch is delighted to be developing a queer women’s fishing doc series entitled Get Hooked, set to release in 2025. (Ontario Creates, Telus Fund, CAMH, OUTtv, AMI, Crow’s Theatre).

Cosima Herter

Cosima Herter is a writer, creator, and story and science consultant with a scholarly background in the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine. She is most known for her collaborations on the famed, multi award-winning series Orphan Black (BBCA), and Snowpiercer series (TNT/Netflix). She currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Series Project: Cows Come Home

Writer & Producer
Lindsey Middleton

Lindsey Middleton is an award winning actor and producer. She played Vanessa in the smash hit show Out With Dad and is the co-creator and the producer of the Roku Channel show Just Hysterics. Middleton is a playwright and a 2023 Halls Island Artist Residency Recipient.

Writer & Producer
Katie Uhlmann

Katie Uhlmann is a Toronto comedian best known as the creator, producer, co-writer and director of two seasons of her award-winning digital and broadcast comedy series My Roommate’s an Escort, in addition to six years of her own talk show, Katie Chats, where she interviewed more than 3,000 professionals in the film and television industry.

Series Project: Demons

Maeve Kern

Maeve Kern is a film and television producer and the Head of Development at Archipelago Productions in Toronto, Ontario. Her work as a producer has premiered at festivals internationally, including her short film, I Am, I Am, which premiered at TIFF in 2019. Her debut feature film, Verona, was selected as part of Telefilm’s Talent to Watch program and is set for a theatrical release in the summer of 2023. Inspired by meaningful and unique stories, Kern has worked on a number of documentaries including Records (TVO, VIFF), Coppers (TVO, TIFF), Borealis (Hot Docs, TVO, NFB), and Writing the Land (CBC). In 2022, Kern produced the comedy web series My Special Guest, starring Juno Rinaldi (Workin’ Moms), Jenny Young, and Canadian legend Jann Arden. Passionate about bringing an artist’s vision to life, Kern strives to create a positive and inclusive environment where diverse creatives can collaborate on projects that are engaging, innovative, and memorable.

Preeti Torul

Preeti Torul is an actor, screenwriter, and filmmaker, who started out at The Second City in 2013. Her first televised stand-up at the 2019 Winnipeg Comedy Festival is now streaming on CBC Gem. Torul’s on screen credits include Bria Mack Gets A Life (Crave), Nine Films About Technology (Hulu), and Wedding Season (Netflix). Torul has written for CBC’s Air Farce and TallBoyz. Her original dark-comedy project, Demons, was selected for the 2022 Reelworld Emerging 20 Screenwriting program and shortlisted for the 2021 Sundance Episodic Lab. Demons was also chosen for the 2023 Netflix Diversity of Voices Program at the Banff World Media Festival. Torul’s short film Where You From? premiered at the 2018 Toronto Sketch Comedy Festival. She has edited Canadian television, including Bit Playas (CBC), Second Jen, and Abroad (Rogers). Being on both sides of the camera has given Torul the ability to tell stories to a diverse audience.

Series Project: Esther & Sai

Thea Loo

Thea Loo is a producer and director from Vancouver, BC. Her work has played at Sundance, Palm Springs ShortFest, and CAAMFest, and been distributed on digital TIFF Lightbox and CBC Gem. In 2022, she associate produced Doug and the Slugs and Me, a feature documentary directed by Teresa Alfeld, which closed the DOXA Documentary Film Festival. Loo is working on producing and directing her TV documentary Inay for the Knowledge Network. She is an alumni of the Reelworld Producers Program, a cohort group focused on developing BIPOC producing talent in Canada.

Rosie Choo Pidcock

Rosie Choo Pidcock is a biracial Chinese Canadian writer, director, and actor from Vancouver, BC, focused on storytelling with a queer feminist lens. Her films have screened at CAAMFest and St. John’s International Women in Film Festival, and received distribution on Air Canada. She is in development on a scripted series (drama) and a narrative feature (dark comedy).

Series Project: Exile

Kevin Dong

Kevin Dong is a producer based in Calgary, Treaty 7, Alberta. His producing practice aims to nurture creator-driven works from unique, underseen, and unexpected places. Through Telefilm’s Talent to Watch program, he produced the feature comedy Events Transpiring Before, During, and After a High School Basketball Game (dir. Ted Stenson). He also produced the hour-long Rat Patrol documentary Living Without Menace for CBC Gem. Dong is an incoming Producers’ Lab resident of the Canadian Film Centre’s Norman Jewison Film Program.

Fernanda D’oro Fontes

A Brazilian import, Fernanda D’oro Fontes moved to Canada in 2017. In Toronto, she completed the Television Writing and Producing post-graduate program at Humber College. Much of her inspiration in storytelling is drawn from her experience as an immigrant and the lingering memories and saudade of her culture, family, and home. For over two years, she worked as a Development Manager at CaribbeanTales Media Group, supporting and overseeing the development and packaging of multiple projects. In 2022, she was selected as a participant of the Read Latinx initiative.

Series Project: How to be Brown

Asis Sethi

Playback magazine’s 10 to Watch (2020) and an alumna of Women in Director’s Chair and Netflix-Banff Diversity of Voices, Asis Sethi is an award-winning South Asian, Canadian Sikh filmmaker whose career in broadcasting spans more than 15 years as a producer and a host, creating more than 100 hours of content for television. Her 16-episode television documentary series on Sikh shrines in India was funded by the OMNI Documentary Fund. She directed a documentary on post-9/11 effects on turban wearers, titled The Colourful Crown, which premiered on OMNI Television nationally. Her short film on postpartum depression, titled Rock the Cradle, was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. Sethi’s proof of concept for her feature Slam Dunk, Sehaj! was supported by the CFC/Netflix Calling Card Accelerator and also won Caribbean Tales’ “The Big Pitch” at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022.

Maya Bastian

Maya Bastian is an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been supported by Netflix, HBO, Telefilm, the United Nations, and The Canadian Film Centre. She has been featured in NOW Magazine, NPR, The Globe and Mail, and CBC’s The National. Her work frequently explores the trauma related to displacement and migration.

Series Project: Out of Pocket

Cory Bowles

Cory Bowles is a multidisciplinary artist from Nova Scotia, Canada. A four-time Canadian Screen Award nominee, he works as a director, producer, writer, and choreographer for stage, television, and screen. His first feature Black Cop premiered at TIFF 2017, earning multiple prizes, including the John Dunning Best First Feature Award.

Cazhhmere Downey

Cazhhmere Downey is an international award-winning director. With more than 200 videos under her belt, she has directed artists ranging from Kardinal Offishall to the Backstreet Boys. She is an accomplished director whose work has been described as forward-thinking and visually seductive. Branching out from music videos in 2015, she teamed up with the CBC to direct the documentary Deeply Rooted (2017), which is currently streaming on CBC Gem. In 2021, Downey completed The Canadian Film Centre’s Directors’ Residency with the short film I Remember Footprints in the Snow. She is currently a participant of the WBD Access x Canadian Academy Directors Program and recently directed her first episode of television on the new hit CTV series Shelved. Currently, she is writing and directing a four-episode docuseries for The History Channel, produced by Floyd Kane and Amos Adetuyi.

Series Project: Zero Repeat Forever

Mackenzie Donaldson

Mackenzie Donaldson is a Toronto- and Los Angeles–based producer, director, and writer. She is known for her work producing the critically acclaimed; Emmy-, Peabody-, and CSA-winning show Orphan Black, and the Emmy-nominated series adaptation of Snowpiercer for TNT/HBO Max starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs. Donaldson executively produced the award-winning digital series Whatever, Linda, which she is now adapting into an hour-long TV drama, through her production company The Donaldson Company. Donaldson released her first feature film and co-directorial debut The Definites in 2017 through Mongrel Media and Turn Key Films. She is currently in post-production on her solo directorial debut, All the Lost Ones, a cli-fi thriller about a civil war that has torn up the Northeastern Seaboard, which will be released in the fall of 2023. Donaldson begins production on her next feature documentary The Abnormal Beauty Company in summer 2023.

Cheryl Meyer

Cheryl Meyer is a film and television writer who’s written for TV series on Amazon Freevee, CBBC, CBC, Disney, and more, with several series in development receiving support from the Canadian Media Fund. Her first feature, The Last Mark, was a 2021 Toronto International Film Festival Industry Select and an Official Selection in the 2022 Canadian Film Festival. Her second feature, All the Lost Ones, stars Devon Sawa and has been acquired by Paramount+ for 2024. Meyer’s script, Invalid, was nominated for the 2022 Wscripted Cannes Screenplay List. Now, she’s adapting an award-winning horror short to feature length for Hulu. Meyer’s goal is to ensure representation in the stories she shapes. She was an advisor at the Accessibility Writers Lab, and her pilot, “Chronic Elle”, about her experience with disability, was a semi-finalist in the 2023 Stowe Story Lab’s Maven Fellowship. She was also selected for the 2023 RespectAbility Entertainment Lab.