Shailene Garnett has worked as an actress for 14 years and her work has brought her all around Canada, United States, Morocco and France. She is the creator of and instructor for the ‘One-Liner Audition Prep’ workshop in partnership with the Nova Scotian community initiative, Breaking Through the Screens. Shailene is a private acting coach, and coached some of the children performers for the TV series, Diggstown and the Hallmark TV movie, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas..
Stephanie Joline is an Indigenous writer, director, and producer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Equally adept at film and television, Stephanie’s stories provoke conversation, break boundaries, and are deeply rooted in inclusivity and feminism. In 2021 she was long-listed for the DGC Discovery Award; in 2022, she received Best Nova Scotia Director from WIFT-AT and won her first Canadian Screen Award for best directing in the factual television category.
Known for her fab dinner parties and the over-use of F-bombs, writer-director Sheri Elwood’s brand of autobiographical story-telling has led her to dance with the devil (Lucifer), sell an inordinate amount of lemons (Call Me Fitz) and immortalize her wildly dysfunctional family (Moonshine.) Her next batch of shows include monsters, metal detectors and tearing down the misogynist medical industrial complex.
Lynn Coady is a novelist and screenwriter, most recently Co-EP on the highly acclaimed drama series Diggstown. Prior to that her credits include dramas such as Mary Kills People, The Disappearance, Sensitive Skin and the award-winning Orphan Black. Lynn is also the author of seven acclaimed works of fiction, including her short story collection Hellgoing, which won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2013. In 2011, her novel The Antagonist, was shortlisted for the same prize. Coady’s latest novel, Watching You Without Me, was published by Knopf U.S. in 2020. Author Johnathan Lethem called it “Witty and endearing… like a Lorrie Moore book suffering a Patricia Highsmith fever dream.”
Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, Caleigh is a film and TV writer that enjoys diving into new worlds looking for adventure. She writes all genres but is most intrigued by fantasy and comedy and in 2020 she was named one of Playback’s 10 to Watch. Caleigh has worked in a range of television writer’s rooms and written for several shows such as; OVERLORD AND THE UNDERWOODS (CBC), MURDOCH MYSTERIES (CBC) seasons 14-17 and DIGGSTOWN (CBC) seasons 2-4, as well as several development projects produced by, New Metric Media, Project 10 Productions, Circle Blue Entertainment, Conquering Lion Productions and Hungry Eyes Productions. She is currently developing her own original TV shows with Temple Street Productions, Circle Blue Entertainment and Project 10 hoping to bring her unique brand of teen dramadies to a screen near you.
Jackie Torrens (she/they) is an actor, writer and film director. Along with producer Jessica Brown, they co-own Peep Media, a Halifax-based production company. Together, Torrens and Brown have done 5 films for CBC, the Documentary Channel and Bravofactual, including the feature documentary Bernie Langille Wants To Know What Happened To Bernie Langille (winner of Best Documentary at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival), Small Town Show Biz, Bernie Langille Wants To Know Who Killed Bernie Langille (short film version) My Week On Welfare & Edge of East. Additionally they have done two films with Telltale Productions, including Free Reins for CBC POV and Radical Age for Vision. They have twice been the recipient of WIFT-AT’s Best Director award. Currently they are writing a narrative feature.
Donna Davies has written, directed, and produced dozens of award-winning films. Her films have aired on CBC, Bravo, The Movie Network, IFC, HBO, Netflix, Hulu, Starz, EPIX and Shudder, and screened at festivals internationally.
Donna is an alumna of Trans-Atlantic Partners International Co-Production Program and NBC universal’s Feature Film Incubator Program. She was recipient of a 2017 WAVE award for outstanding leadership and vision in the Atlantic Canadian Film industry and recipient of the 2018 Women in Film and Television Award for Best Director.
Desirée Couture has worked on films and television productions since 2015, in various roles including costuming, buying, and supervising. Her love for fashion began at the young age of 12, dressing her family for events. After working in the financial industry for over 10 years, Desirée’s life took an unexpected turn when she was in an accident, prompting her to reassess her life goals and get back to her roots in the fashion industry. She created Couture Images, through which she combines a lifetime of fashion expertise with image therapy to create looks that help people with their mental health and self-esteem, helping them feel more confident and achieve their dreams.
Nancy is a producer and writer with CUT/OFF/TAIL Pictures, a team of musicians/artists making arthouse genre features. Their works have played Sitges, TIFF Midnight Madness, Fantasporto, Fantasia and more. Projects in development include crime thriller Permanent Damage, breastfeeding horror, Feed, an adaptation of Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows, and unicorn werewolf tale, Cloven.
Karen Wentzell is a Nova Scotia-based Producer and President of Waterstar Entertainment. Her focus is on scripted comedy and female-driven drama with a social conscience. She has
over 20 years experience in the industry. She recently completed a feature film about schizophrenia called The Madones with Writer/Director Barrie Dunn. Karen also served as EP on seasons 2, 3 and 4 of the critically acclaimed tv series Diggstown. As well, she was EP on the comedy series Seed. Seed received a total of 13 CSA nominations. She’s known for her work as producer of the successful hit television series Trailer Park Boys. Karen has been on the board of SNS since 2015, and is a former board member of WIFT-AT.
Jayne Belliveau is the owner of Beautiful Calf Productions (BCP), a marketing agency with an international film and TV division. BCP has developed several films that have sold out globally. Everything Jayne does is rooted in story. She has experience working with Netflix, large media funds, GM, McCann global marketing, Coca Cola, and Denny’s Restaurants.
Shelley Thompson is an actor/writer/director and soon-to-be novelist, with her first novel Roar (Nimbus/Vantage) coming out this October. She lives and works in Wolfville, in Mi’kma’ki. She loves to garden, swim, walk and connect with emerging film artists – who provide constant inspiration. WIFT has been a huge part of her development as a film-maker through various mentorships.
Megan Wennberg is a documentary filmmaker based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Her first feature documentary Drag Kids premiered at Hot Docs in 2019, and went on to win multiple awards and screen at top festivals around the world. Megan’s second film The Killing of Phillip Boudreau won the Screen Nova Scotia Award for Best Documentary in 2021, and Megan won WIFT-AT’s Award for Best Director. Megan’s latest feature Unsyncable premiered at Hot Docs in May.
Lindsay Thorne has been doing makeup and special FX makeup for almost 20 years. She’s currently the head of makeup on this hour has 22 minutes, and has worked on many films and tv series over the years, including basic makeup, special FX makeup, and helping create crazy creatures using prosthetics.
Jennifer Stewart is a Production Designer with over 20 years of experience working in film and television. A keen collaborator, she is passionate about using design to enhance story, and she brings a fearless approach to world building. She has been fortunate to work with talented Nova Scotia artists and craftspeople on numerous award-winning projects. Prior to working in the film and television industry, Jennifer graduated from The Royal Winnipeg Ballet professional division and then earned a Masters of Architecture degree from Dalhousie University. She co-founded the architectural firm, Savage Stewart Architecture, and the work of this practice garnered two Nova Scotia Lieutenant Governor’s Awards of Excellence.
Mentor Match is possible through the support of
Joey Chapman (they/them) is an autistic writer, director and photographer from British Columbia, now living in Halifax. Starting young, Joey picked up their first camera before the age of 10 and since then, always has an eye through the viewfinder. What Joey strives for most in all of their work is authenticity, equity, and inclusivity while maintaining a belief that work is supposed to be fun! After finding out they were autistic, Joey decided to pursue filmmaking full time with hopes of finding a community of like-minded artists to grow with. Joey wanted to find people harboring the same passion for story-telling they held inside. Instead, they found a home. With keen attention to detail, natural light and colour, they create unique and bold work for local and international clients.
Candice became disabled in 2016 and was no longer able to work in her trade as a welder. In 2021 she decided to step out of her comfort zone and try background acting for the first time. She loved it, and worked on shows such as, The Sinner, Locke & Key, Moonshine, Washington Black and King and Pawn. She decided to take some acting classes and in the fall of 2021 she got the lead actress role in a short film called, “We’re All One” produced by, Goblin Den Productions for the 48 hour film festival.
Kathleen Dorian (she/her) is a creator/actor based in Dartmouth, NS (Punamu’kwati’jk). She is co-AP of Nova Scotia’s only theatre company with a feminist mandate, LunaSea Theatre, and one quarter of the clown-troupe-turned-accidental-theatre-company Tea Time Creation Co. (First Date/Last Date, Gina Is Dead, Romeo & Juliet: A Drink Along, Midsummer Night’s Wet Dream). As Kathleen began working as an actor in film (MASC/AfroViking Pictures, Compulsus/Paw Paw Productions, Chapelwaite/EPIX) she became inspired to create her own work. After making a 1 min short in AFCOOP’s Film1 (Flimsy) Kathleen created her first short, Wolf, recently accepted as an official selection at the New York Lift-Off Film Festival (2023). She is completely thrilled to be part of WIFT-AT’s Mentorship Match program to continue learning and making.
Jessica Brown (she/her) is an award-winning Inuit filmmaker based in St. John’s, NL. Jessica is the proud owner of Ujarak Media Inc., a registered Inuit film & TV production company. She is also the Executive Director of the Northern Film Initiative Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to Indigenizing Newfoundland and Labrador’s film, television, and media sectors. Representing Newfoundland and Labrador for DOC Atlantic, a chapter of the Documentary Organization of Canada, Jessica is passionate about telling Indigenous stories and advocating for the representation of Indigenous people in Canada’s entertainment industry. With her captivating storytelling, Jessica aspires to empower future generations with meaningful and impactful stories.
Katelyn McCulloch is a dancer, who got a degree in acting and then ran away to join the circus (seriously) before finding her ultimate groove as a filmmaker. Katelyn has written, directed and produced 3 comedic short films that have gone on to win
awards including Best Comedy at The Great Canadian Comedy Film Festival, Portland Comedy Festival, The Female Eye Film Festival, Best First Time Director from the Canadian
Cinematography Awards and Best Director at Austin Comedy.
Katelyn is going to camera this fall with her first long form project, a comedy series called Everybody’s Meg that will air on Bell FibeTV1. The series is a spin off from her short comedy
“Meg Writes a Reference Letter” that was a finalist on CBC Short Film Face Off. Katelyn is the founder of Hey Old Friend Productions Inc and a recent alum of Women in the
Melissa Laverdure (she/her) is an archive researcher & archive producer who has worked for the CBC, Thunderbird Entertainment, Epix, Network Entertainment and Hot Docs. Melissa works with independent documentary filmmakers one on one to obtain archival footage and negotiate the rights on their behalf. She frequents film festivals around the world and gives talks about the film archive industry. Melissa loves the challenge of meeting the director’s vision & finding unique footage. Currently she is trying something new working on a story team with Deadman’s Curse which airs on the History Channel. Melissa is exploring the many ways to tell a story with the research clues she finds along the way.
Elanor Jazzar is a driven, self-taught special effects makeup artist. She is actively tailoring her bachelor’s in fine arts at NSCAD University to suit her creature-making skills development, being heavily influenced by the legendary Stan Winston. She applied to Mentor Match hoping to be guided by a professional in industry-standard masks and prosthetics so that she may get the chance to assist in prosthetic application on-set.
From a young age, Sam Horak (she/they) was fascinated by the creation of story. She graduated from Dalhousie University with an honors in theatre and has been writing and directing plays since her cousins could talk. After juggling the restaurant industry, punk bands and a scrappy Queer & Feminist theatre company (2012-18), Horak stumbled into AFCOOP (2017) and completed the FILM5 trainee program, which led to finding work in the film and television industry. In 2020 Horak was accepted to the AFCOOP Film5 program as writer/director, completing the short film, Dear Dad, F*@# You! (2021) which premiered at FIN and won ‘best international short’ at the LA Punk Film Festival. This off-season they are sharpening skills and writing a feature and pilot spec script. Horak is grateful to be able to continue on this journey and for the support of WIFT-AT in this mentorship opportunity.
Tracy Belsher (she/her) is an award-winning, multi-published author, illustrator, and screenwriter published under the pen names Judith Graves and Judith Tewes. A firm believer that writing can be action-packed, sassy, and yet hit all the right emotional notes, she creates stories with attitude. Tracy lives in Summerside, Prince Edward Island and works as a graphic designer for the Island’s largest publisher, Acorn Press. Learn more about Tracy’s books at judithgraves.com and her film production company with Susan Rodgers and Robin Sutherland at seastonepictures.com.
Madeline Toal is a Nova Scotian filmmaker who has written and directed several short films, ranging from fiction films to documentaries. She completed a four year film production degree at York University, during which she specialized in directing and editing. After returning home to Nova Scotia in 2020, Madeline received the Independent Filmmaker’s Grant from AFCOOP to shoot a comedy film, and was also awarded the JRG Society’s Atlantic Emerging Artist Award to help fund her most recent short documentary film, Helping Paws. Her projects have screened at FIN, Lunenburg Doc Fest, Charlottetown Film Festival, Unrestricted View Film Festival (England), Beeston International Film Festival (England), Prospector’s International Film Festival (USA), and Lakeview International Film Festival (India). For the past year and a half Madeline has also worked as an editor and assistant editor for the NFB while pursuing independent filmmaking projects.
Carmel is a Canadian writer, musician, podcaster, and filmmaker based in Halifax. A true cross-platform storyteller, she connects with audiences on stage, online, and on-screen. Her writing has been called “a conjuring trick,” her songwriting “confessional,” and that’s where her work is most at home – in that parallel universe of fiction and truthfulness. Carmel holds a Masters of Arts in English from Queen’s University and her essays and fiction have been published by Cape Breton Books, English Studies in Canada, and Rizzoli. Her debut short documentary film comes out this year.
Originally from New Brunswick, Nancy Kenny is a fluently bilingual (French/English) actor, writer, and producer, who makes Halifax/Kjipuktuk her home. She is the creator and solo performer of the award-winning, critically acclaimed plays, Roller Derby Saved My Soul (Canadian Comedy Award nominee – Best One Person Show), and Everybody Dies in December. She is also the executive producer of On the Fringe, a feature-length documentary about touring the Canadian Fringe Festival circuit. (Official theatrical premiere: NorthWest Fest, Edmonton – May 2022 / Winner: Best Documentary Film, 2023 Screen Nova Scotia awards). Recent screenwriting credits include the short film, Six Feet Over (AFCOOP) and an episode of the French sitcom, En Résidence (Unis TV). Through her company, Broken Turtle Productions, Nancy’s focus is in stories that explore the role AA of women, marginalized genders, and 2SLGBTQ+ people in society. She has dreams of becoming a showrunner and is currently adapting Roller Derby Saved My Soul into a television series.
Jessica MacDonald is an interdisciplinary creative professional working in film, visual arts, music, and performance. A graduate of NSCAD University, Jessica maintains a diverse creative practice across disciplines and industries, striving to overlap and intertwine disparate areas of work.
Tori Fleming is a media artist, programmer and curator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Tori’s practice includes media installation, painting and narrative filmmaking. She has worked as a film programmer for the Halifax Independent Filmmakers Festival and FIN Festival. She has recently been developing her filmmaking practice with support from the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative through their Writing Big program, Film 5, and Grants to Filmmakers as well as multiple Arts Nova Scotia Creation Grants. She won the 2023 Screen Nova Scotia Award for best short film for her recent film ‘Keeper’. She holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and a certificate in International Curation from the Berlin based Node Centre. Fleming is currently the Executive Director at the Centre for Art Tapes, a Media Arts based artist-run centre in North End Halifax.
A self-proclaimed renaissance woman, Jena White has been pursuing the art of creative expression since early childhood. As a survivor living with C-PTSD Jena has recently returned to the entertainment industry after a period of healing and growth following a traumatic assault in her twenties which derailed her career plans. Through this WIFT-AT mentorship she hopes to show other individuals who experience violence that they are more than what has been done to them. There is so much more to dream and do.