Making Your Non-Fiction Series

Saturday, March 25

In the digital age, documentary series are pushing every boundary. Whether it’s OJ: Made in America scoring an unprecedented Academy Award nomination or VICE’s Rise breaking ground at the front lines of the Standing Rock protest, non-fiction series are finding new ways to be inventive and engrossing. And audiences are devouring them with ever-growing appetites.

But in a constantly shifting media landscape, where funding, production, and distribution are changing, the question is: how do you create a successful non-fiction series?

To answer this question, we’ll turn to Canadian creators on the cutting edge of the format for an intimate day of in-depth, interactive sessions. With case studies that reveal practical insights, financials, workflows, and marketing strategies, they will illustrate the creative and strategic ways they’ve approached the non-fiction series. In doing so, they’ll address some pressing topics:

  • What are the different streams of financing for non-fiction series? How can you harness an ever-growing digital market?
  • How do the beats of the story translate to a series format? What are the differences in production to consider between series and one-offs? How does this affect the creative process?
  • How do you attract and work with international partners for co-productions? What are the logistical and financial challenges and how do you overcome them?
  • Where do branded/sponsored series fit into the conversation? How do you develop and monetize content with a digital audience in mind?

Date: Saturday, March 25
Time: 12:30pm-4:30pm
Location: Centre for Social Innovation – 192 Spadina, 192 Spadina Ave, Toronto
Price: $90 for DOC and LIFT members, $125 for non-members, $70 for students with valid ID.

Space is limited to 30 participants



Emmy-nominated producer Morgan Elliott is an adventurer and a story-teller. She has crafted an award-winning career from the most exotic and remote corners of the world through her production of documentaries and reality television.

A long-time producer for Mark Burnett, Ms. Elliott has covered the action on seven of the annual Eco-Challenge expedition races produced by Burnett. She is a specialist in adventure television who has shot in over 45 countries and launched and produced twelve television series. Her production company, Suddenly SeeMore…Productions Inc., produced the travel-adventure series Beyond Borders as well as Stratusphere (with Trish Stratus), No Opportunity Wasted (with Phil Keoghan), The Second City’s Next Comedy Legend for the CBC, and Howie Do it with Howie Mandel for NBC.

From the jungles of Borneo to the streets of Buenos Aires, Morgan and her crews have traveled extensively around the world. She is expert in her ability to marry action and adventure with the most intimate stories of the individuals experiencing it.

Guest Speakers

As a Producer and Partner in Primitive Entertainment, Kristina has worked on some of the most critically acclaimed Canadian documentaries of the last two decades.

Recently, Kristina produced The Polar Sea, a multimedia Arctic adventure for Arte-ZDF in Germany and TVO and Knowledge Network in Canada and Spaceship Earth for History Channel and NHK. Other credits include Canadian Made, a 14 part series on Canadian inventions and innovations for History Television and the theatrical feature Beauty Day. Kristina has also produced the Genie and Gemini award winning The National Parks Project, a 13 part documentary series for the Discovery Channel.

Having created, written, directed and produced nearly a 1000 hours of broadcast television over the past 16 years, Jameel Bharmal blends his expertise with the vision of Better Corners, a new ecosystem of content production for emerging platforms.

As head of production, Jameel Bharmal turned Tricon Films & Television from a one series company to one of the largest independent production companies in Canada. His work has sold in over 120 countries.

Notably, he created, wrote, directed several shows that have gone for 100 eps, and more recently he was the executive producer of Timbercreek Lodge on BRAVO, as well as being executive producer for shows on HISTORY and E!.

Presently Jameel is executive producing the series Food’s Greatest Hits that has been renewed for a second season on Cooking Channel in the States.


Patrick McGuire is a journalist and documentary producer who is currently VICE Canada’s Head of Content. As VICE launched their Canadian TV network VICELAND this year, Patrick has been on the team overseeing original television production, alongside the youth-targeted digital and print journalism the brand is known for, which spans a network of ten online channels and a monthly print magazine.


With his debut feature The Secret Trial 5 (2014), Amar Wala established himself as a daring new voice in Canadian cinema. A graduate of York University’s acclaimed Film program, he believes deeply in cinema’s ability to create awareness and facilitate social change.

Passionate about both documentary and narrative film, Wala’s dramatic work has also garnered high praise at home and abroad. Cameron Bailey, Director of TIFF, named Amar one of Toronto’s Top Ten Filmmakers in 2008. The Secret Trial 5 received the 2014 Magnus Isacsson Award at RIDM, as well as a Jury mention in the Emerging Filmmaker category at Hot Docs. The film would also be named one of Now Magazine’s Top Ten Films of 2014 (Susan G. Cole).

Amar is currently directing the VICELAND series Payday.

Stuart Coxe_Square

Stuart is one of Canada’s most sought after creative minds in unscripted, factual and original content. Before founding Antica, Stuart spent 20 years as an award winning producer, director and executive in news and entertainment at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). There he was responsible for launching dozens of shows, docs and hit series – including Dragons Den, CBC’s first ever factual entertainment program.

Since leaving the public broadcaster, Stuart has produced many feature documentaries, created several TV shows and series, and developed different projects for international audiences, including a new format with Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank). The show was recently picked up by ABC in the US and is scheduled to air in 2017.

Currently, Stuart and the Antica team have several exciting projects on the go including a new series for CBC (Becoming Canadian – to air in 2017), several digital ventures (branded content and for broadcasters), and Secret Path, the emotional and notable animated film from The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie.

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