June 17, 2021
Rogers Sports & Media in partnership with Access Reelworld recently launched Level UP, a new paid mentoring program for emerging Canadian writers and directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour. Applications are currently open until June 25. Two writers and two directors will be chosen from the applications to work on the set of Citytv’s original hit series Hudson & Rex, which began shooting its fourth season in St. John’s Newfoundland and Labrador.
To apply, candidates need to first register on the Access Reelworld database.
We spoke with Nataline Rodrigues, Director of Original Programming for Rogers Sports & Media, Tonya Williams, Founder and Executive Director of the Reelworld Screen Institute and Access Reelworld, and Paul Pope, Producer of Hudson & Rex, to hear more on the initiative and how eligible candidates can apply.
What is Level UP all about? And, what motivated you to develop this program?
Nataline: In order to tell authentic, diverse stories through our shows, it’s critical to increase representation both behind and in front of the camera, and I’m excited to pilot this program with Shaftsbury and Pope Productions, our production partners for Hudson & Rex.
For Level UP, the selected writers will spend four weeks on separate episodes between July and November of this year. The writers will work remotely in the show’s virtual writers room and one week on set learning about changes made to various drafts of the scripts, experience the collaborative nature of television production, and gaining a deeper understanding of the role each department plays in bringing Hudson & Rex to life. The directors will participate in production meetings with the various departments; observing the casting process, location scouting, tech scouting; and having direct contact with the director during their day-to-day interactions with key crew. A $3500 honorarium will be paid to each participant.
Why was it important for you to get involved in this initiative?
Tonya: More and more production companies across Canada are recognizing their responsibility in creating the diversity and inclusion we need to see on our sets. We are proud to kick off the Level UP program with Rogers Sports & Media and one of the most successful Canadian shows to provide a career-changing opportunity for two writers and two directors to gain tangible experience.
Why is attracting diverse talent both in-front of and behind-the-camera important to you and the success of Hudson & Rex?
Paul: It’s really important that our entire production reflect our audience and also the community we live in. Having diversity on both sides of the camera helps us tell stories that are more authentic and relatable to our audience as a whole.
Access Reelworld is the largest searchable hiring and job posting platform in Canada for racially diverse talent in over 100 job categories (above-the-line and below-the-line), and is a valuable tool for all production companies, broadcasters and streaming platforms looking to hire racially – diverse talent for their projects. Learn more about Access Reelworld, and visit Reelworld.ca/LevelUP for more details on Level UP and how to apply.