DOC Institute-Laidlaw Bursary Program

September 2016 - July 2017

DOC Institute & Laidlaw Foundation Announce
Bursary Program for Entry-Level Filmmakers

With the support of the Laidlaw Foundation, DOC Institute is equipping ten young, entry-level filmmakers (23-29 years old) with the skills and connections to advance their careers in non-fiction media.

2016 applications are now closed. Please check back in 2017. 


Program Mentors

Sherien Barsoum is a Toronto-based filmmaker motivated to tell social issue stories. Sherien recently produced the much-anticipated feature House of Z (2016) following celebrity fashion designer Zac Posen. She was the story consultant on Frame 394 (HotDocs 2016) which is a provocative look at the police shooting death of Walter Scott.

Her first feature, Colour Me (2011), was a bold exploration of black identity narratives. When she’s not making films, Sherien runs Reelworld – a social impact film festival in Toronto.

Marc Serpa Francoeur is a documentary filmmaker and interactive producer based in Toronto with projects set as far afield as Portugal and Cuba. Marc is the co-creator of The World in Ten Blocks, an interactive documentary that brings one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods to life through the lens of immigrant entrepreneurs, which had its world premiere at Hot Docs 2016.

Marc is the co-founder of Lost Time Media whose recent interactive work includes League of Exotique Dancers Interactive (2016), the digital companion piece to Storyline Entertainment’s feature documentary about the legends of burlesque.

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 a series for VICE.

In 2013 Stephanie finished her first feature documentary My Brother’s Vows with Bunbury Films and Florianfilm. The film is an intimate portrayal of her brother as he struggles to decide whether or not to become a Catholic missionary priest.  In 2013 and 2014 Stephanie co-directed Polar Sea 360, the world’s first interactive 360 degrees documentary together with Thomas Wallner.

She was also a researcher for the TV part of the project, a 10-part documentary series for ARTE, TVO and The Knowledge Network. The interactive documentary was part of Dok Leipzig 2014 and was presented in Amsterdam as part of the IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Documentary Storytelling.

Stephanie currently works as a story producer and researcher on the 5-part series Arctic Secrets for White Pine Pictures in Toronto.

Program Participants






















Over the course of the program, participants will receive:
* Full and free access to DOC Institute training programs with the goals of building creative capacity, business savvy, industry know-how and connections.
* One-year DOC Membership which includes: access to members-only online community; exclusive rates on services including insurance, post-production, festival passes, and more.
* Mentorship specific to developing participants’ projects and careers.
* An ongoing alumni network

Eligible applicants must:
1. be 23-29 years of age at the time of application;
2. be an entry-level filmmaker (this includes those with no – or very little – paid professional experience in the media industry);
3. reside in proximity to the Greater Toronto Area in order to attend program meetings over the course of 2016-2017 (scheduled for September, November, February, April, and June);
4. be able to attend DOC Institute programming during evenings and some weekends.

Selection Process:
Applications will be reviewed by a committee of leaders in the areas of documentary media and community arts. Decisions will be made in August.


How to Apply

In ONE word doc or PDF please upload:
1) a written statement of interest describing a) your commitment to pursuing media as a career, b) your interest in non-fiction media, and c) how this program will assist you (1 page max.);
2) a CV or a written description of your experience (career, academic, life), specific to media;
3) a sample of your work (e.g. video clip or written outline for a media project).

Please see our Commitment to Diversity statement at the bottom of the page.

Some tips for your application:
a. Demonstrate your passion. This does not equate to years of experience, scores of credits or even formal academic training. The written statement, in particular, is an opportunity to show your sincere interest in pursuing documentary media and entering Canada’s strong tradition documentary storytelling.

b. Your work sample should reflect your passion. While this program is for those who are early in their careers, we expect that your interest in media has materialized in producing your own work, whether it’s getting your great doc idea down on paper or going out to shoot some preliminary footage.

Please contact nicole@docorg.ca if you have questions.


1 Basic information
2 Upload your documents
  • DOC Toronto's Commitment to Diversity
    DOC Toronto has a stated mandate of supporting inclusion and diversity in the documentary industry. This mandate includes a respect and appreciation for diversity in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, physical ability, sexual orientation, education, and religion to tell our nation’s stories. While this is a youth-specific program, within this context we encourage applicants to write a brief statement about the unique perspective you bring to non-fiction storytelling.