Darcy Waite stars as Kevin Cardinal, aka DJ Burnt Bannock, a struggling Cree DJ who realizes that if he is going to achieve his dreams of success, he needs to make a mega move to prove to the world, and himself, that he is seriously talented. Too bad he’s about to do it all wrong. Produced by Eagle Vision, the series is part of the Short Form Digital Series (Fiction) Production Program and will air on APTN Lumi.

Darcy is the creator, writer and star of DJ Burnt Bannock. His story editor (and the director of DJ Burnt Bannock) is Rebecca Gibson, Partner & Head of Development for Eagle Vision.

Why is comedy such a great genre for exploring challenging issues?

DARCY: When I sat down to flesh out DJ Burnt Bannock, I wanted to tell a story of what I just went through in my mid 20’s. My story is being an Indigenous person growing up in the city, having to connect to culture without having a tie to the community. There are a million ways to tell these stories, and each artist is going to tell them in their style. I’m a comedian. I enjoy telling these stories through comedy. As the Elders say, laughter is medicine.

Where did the idea for DJ Burnt Bannock come from?

DARCY (Creator, Writer, Star): I was producing my first feature with my friend Madison Thomas, and we had a bar scene where we needed some people to play DJs in the background. Me and my roommate ended up filling the roles. We had a blast. Then the ImagineNATIVE web series pitch came up, and I thought, “What would a series look like with these two characters?”

REBECCA (Story Editor and Director) : When Darcy brought DJBB to us, we all felt that we needed to work on it. The show approaches some challenging topics, but it does it with humour. We all needed that release. We’re very grateful and excited to get to make it.

KindaTV launched on YouTube in 2014 under the name VervegirlTV. In 2016, the channel rebranded to KindaTV and launched the hit web series, Carmilla. Since then, the channel has grown to 266,000 subscribers and has become a hub for fun, high quality, female-fronted and LGBTQ+ content. 

Shaftesbury launched KindaTV to be an incubator for discovering and fostering new Canadian content creators, both in front of and behind the camera, including Gwenlyn Cumyn, Karen Knox from Slo Pitch, Katie Bird Nolan and Lindsay Tapscott at Babe Nation, and many more with the help of various programmes as part of the Bell Fund.

Christina Jennings, is the CEO of Shaftesbury Inc, the company behind KindaTV.

How is KindaTV different from other broadcasters and streamers?

We view KindaTV as an indie channel serving an underrepresented audience that does not typically see themselves on screen on traditional broadcasters and streamers. Similar to a larger broadcaster/streaming services, we both co-produce and fund some of the shows featured on the channel. The immediacy of YouTube also offers us insight into our audience, by way of comments and analytics. This means that we are able to tailor our output towards what the community wants and to be in constant dialogue with them. We have the opportunity to push out content that speaks to niche audiences.

Can you tell us a bit about Barbelle, Slo Pitch, Ghost BFF and Gay Mean Girls?

Barbelle was the first project we worked on with the Boss & Co creators. Their creative vision is in line with the values inherent to KindaTV. Plus, we love their sense of humour and authenticity. We later worked with them on Slo Pitch, which we think is the best web series of 2020. Ghost BFF is an important project for KindaTV, working with the talented filmmakers at Babe Nation. We’re proud of how it created a discussion surrounding some pretty difficult mental health topics and has been well received by fans. Gay Mean Girls is a fun show that highlights the trials and tribulations of high school. It’s a fan favourite and we can’t wait for KindaTV fans to see Season 2, which the creators are in the process of developing.

La Base: Lex and Wasiu is not the typical “opinion” webseries you find on the web. Their experience of modern Quebec is in keeping with the image of the majority of young people who grew up in an urban, multicultural and multilingual environment: they are completely and authentically Quebecois, but they accept their gap in relation to Quebec culture "mainstream". 

The series, which is now resuming for a second season, is produced by Impact Television. As part of the Short Format Digital Series Program, the series is broadcast on ICI Tou.tvtv

Lex and Wasiu are best friends in real life who host the show together. How does this dynamic contribute to the way the show is written, the approach and presentation of the show, etc?

They have been friends for a very long time and their connection shows a lot on the screen. Beyond their working method, it is really when they host together that they are most capable of naturally demonstrating their complicity. Sometimes, it can lead to great surprises!

How do you decide who to feature on the show and what topics/issues you talk about?

First the themes of the episodes are chosen according to Lex and Wasiu personal experiences, points of view or referents. Then, we find the best guest with whom we think the theme could be developed in an original and surprising way.

Why do you think a show like yours is so relevant and necessary in 2021?

For many reasons! First of all, because it entertains in a completely different way. The episode's topics, the clash between the guests and the questions, the stand-ups; each section of the show is entertaining, but educational at the same time. Second, because it is essential to give a voice to cultures other than the one that dominates our screens. And you don't just have to "make room for them", you have to give them all the room they need, i.e., to be at the head of a show and not just a guest, to decide on the topics, etc.

La Dump is a series created and directed by Maude Morissette that tells the story of a family of puppets: Belle et Barbe (Donald Trump's illegitimate son) and their adopted multi-ethnic children, Spoon and Spatula. These unique unloved ones live with lots of colorful friends in a curious underground village called La Dump.
First in Canada: broadcasted on Youtube and Facebook, this bilingual series is entirely designed with special effects and on a green background. The series was funded by the Format Digital Series Program.
Maude writes, is artistic director, acts, directs and produces the series and is now in pre-production for the third season of The Dump.

What is it like to be helming a project as an emerging female creator in the role of director/producer?

Ah what a beautiful question! I like the word "creator" and "emerging project". To tell the truth, I feel nothing but pride in working and representing this project. When I think about the series, and its continuation, I still have butterflies in my stomach. Every time someone notices the huge amount of work behind the project and the immeasurable talent involved in the production, it warms my heart. This project has been the center of my life for the past 6 years. I wake up every morning thinking about my team and how I can get this project where it needs to be. Everyone says that the show is my "baby". But no, it's already been bigger than me for a long time. My role on the production is more than just being the creator, it's being the captain and making sure the boat arrives safely at destination. That's my job now, to get the project where it needs to be. I'm doing it for the series, not for me. I want to see the show around the world, it deserves it.

What are the advantages of your show being on Facebook and YouTube? More creative freedom? Are you able to address more sensitive subjects? Are you able to reach new and wider audiences than you would otherwise?

Yes, yes and yes! That's exactly it. The creative freedom and the chance to be able to talk without being told that you don’t have the right. It's rare these days and it's priceless. It's also great to be able to reach a wider audience and generally not having any barriers. I am happy to use the money I am given through the Bell Funds to offer something accessible and free for everyone. I feel that with the series, I can give back to people and start the conversation. The web and social media is not always a beautiful place. However, we also have the opportunity and the chance to use this public medium to educate, make people think and hopefully change things little by little.

SHINE TRUE is an 8-part documentary series celebrating the trans and gender-non-conforming community by helping them overcome dysphoria and anxiety and getting them to a place where they can freely and finally present in the way they feel. 

The series, produced by Vice Media Group and Michelle Mama (who also directs), will air on OutTV and is part of the TV Production Program at the Bell Fund.

How is the focus of Shine True different from more conventional makeover shows?

Vanessa Case (SVP Studio Canada, Vice Media Group): Our goal (with SHINE TRUE) was to create a completely unique but very necessary documentary series about transgender and gender-non-conforming people. While a makeover is part of each episode, that element is a light touch to the overall journey of our 8 participants and their very personal transformational stories.
Michelle: What sets SHINE TRUE apart from a conventional makeover show is the individuals we are profiling and their unique challenges. The trans and gender non-conforming community are not just dealing with a surface / external spiff-up, but instead, they are in the process of an entire metamorphosis from the inside out. To that end, we worked as a documentary unit to understand the subjects’ unique needs and intersections and provided guidance and experiences to gently guide them to become a truer version of themselves.

The series features members of the trans, queer, and gender-non-conforming community who have already experienced navigating this space. Why is it so important to feature role models like these for young people still discovering their gender identity?

Michelle: The queer community is unique in that we often have to look outside of our birth families for support and guidance. Oftentimes one’s birth family is not experienced with, and therefore not equipped to help a young person navigate, a non-conforming gender identity. To that end, it is crucially important (and often life-saving) to have queer elders to turn to who can meet you where you are at, not judge you, and give you the guidance you need to carefully navigate these difficult transitions and moments in life.
It was important to us to introduce our subjects to individuals who understood their identities as closely as possible, in ways even our hosts couldn’t relate. For example, we brought in Hunter Shackleford, a Black Fat Activist, to meet with Prism because neither of our hosts shared those identities. We also introduced Azul to non-binary Mexican visual artist Vicente Ugartechea as neither of our hosts are Latinx or visual artists. It is these mentors that queer youth desperately need to help ground them and make them feel like they’re not alone.

Zarqa is about a bitter, selfish Muslim woman who can't handle it when her ex-husband gets married to a younger, skinnier, white yoga instructor. So in a fit of vindictiveness, she decides to compete by telling everyone on Facebook, she’s coming to the wedding with a white brain surgeon named Brian. Produced by Zarqa Productions and Fundamentalist Films, the series is part of the Short Form Digital Series (Fiction) Production Program and will air on CBC Gem.

Zarqa Nawaz (Little Mosque on the Prairie), who created the series, is set to write and produce Zarqa along with Claire Ross Dunn and Sadiya Durrani. 

We’ve never seen a comedy from a Muslim woman’s perspective on television before. Why do you think it’s important that a story like this needs to be told?

I think it's really important for representation because people need to see that Muslim women react to situations, surprise, surprise, in the same way any other woman would react. Because Muslim women have been racialized, people believe we are passive, are frequently victims of abuse, and don’t have agency in our own lives.
From my Little Mosque on the Prairie days, I learned the more specific you can get, the more universal the issue or story becomes. And there is nothing more universal than a woman getting jealous when her ex-husband gets remarried to someone younger.

Why was it important to you that production for Zarqa take place in Saskatchewan? Why is it important to bring opportunities for production to communities like these?

I lived in Saskatchewan, and at that time, the shows Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie both came out of this province. I believe that those two shows reinvigorated the television industry in this country and gave a lot of other shows the chance to succeed, because now people knew that it was possible to have ratings and success on Canadian television, and we never had that before.
So I feel like those two shows deserve recognition for their role in spurring on an industry that was kind of sputtering along. We need to diversify our economy in Saskatchewan. It can't just be oil and gas. We need art as well, and I believe in the ‘if we start making it, they will come’ philosophy. The government needs to rethink its policy or at least do something to encourage production in another way.