Screen Nova Scotia has partnered with the Halifax Black Film Festival — created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation (FCF) — to provide paid internships for emerging, diverse filmmakers on the set of the CBC legal drama Diggstown. The four selected interns are the participants of the FCF’s Youth & Diversity Program “Being Black in Halifax”, a professional mentorship opportunity in which emerging filmmakers are guided through the various elements of production (screenwriting, directing, editing, post-production, etc.) leading up to delivering their own documentary short film. “Being Black in Halifax” is part of a pan-Canadian initiative called “Being Black in Canada” created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation to address the chronic lack of diversity on and off-screen.
“We are very proud to be partnering with Screen Nova Scotia to strengthen and increase diversity on and off screen in Nova Scotia,” said Fabienne Colas, founding President of the Halifax Black Film Festival and the Fabienne Colas Foundation. “For 15 years through our national organizations we have given voice to thousands of artists who would otherwise have gone unseen and unheard. Now we are working diligently here in Nova Scotia, and with the support of Screen Nova Scotia we are actively taking positive steps in the right direction.”
Screen Nova Scotia is providing each of the selected filmmakers two-week paid internships on the set of Diggstown, which is currently filming its second season in Nova Scotia. This opportunity allows the participants hands-on experience on a professional film set, as well helping to expand their networks and facilitate relationships that can prove invaluable in developing a career in Nova Scotia’s screen industry.
“The final product of the internship idea is a microcosm of what can happen when a community who truly wants change acts with intention. The Youth & Diversity Program is an extraordinary learning opportunity for filmmakers, and it made perfect sense for Screen Nova Scotia to offer their selected creators this chance” said Laura Mackenzie, Executive Director, Screen Nova Scotia. “When Floyd Kane learned of the program he did not hesitate; he met personally with all of the young filmmakers to determine their interests. This is leadership, and a strong step in the right direction for our community.”
The initiative was spurred by Screen Nova Scotia’s Membership Outreach Committee, launched in the Fall of 2018 with a mandate to expand the organization’s reach into underserved communities, with a focus on increasing gender parity and diversity across Screen Nova Scotia’s membership and the wider industry. Diggstown showrunner and creator Floyd Kane was initially approached to mentor one of the interns on set, but offered to take all four into his production over the course of season two.
“It’s always been a goal of mine to have an industry in Nova Scotia that is more reflective of our population,” said Kane. “To have our show Diggstown be able to contribute to the diversification of the Nova Scotia screen industry is extremely rewarding. That said, we still have a long way to go.”
Diggstown follows black lawyer Marcie Diggs, who leaves her high-powered job in corporate law to work for legal aid in Nova Scotia. Vinessa Antoine stars in the show as Marcie Diggs, making Antoine the first black female lead character on a Canadian prime-time drama. Season two will air on CBC in winter 2020.