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Project Lab

Project Lab - A launching pad for alberta voices

Project Lab supports Alberta’s emerging filmmakers by providing them with grants to launch their project into the global marketplace. Supported by the Government of Alberta, Project Lab offers support in the areas of finance, venue, mentorship and equipment services, along with in-kind resources. The program engages seasoned Alberta producers, storytellers and others who will use their skills to train and mentor the new generation of talent.


This panel event on September 30th 2018 at the Calgary International Film Festival celebrates the feature film production achievements of Project Lab  and passes on the learning experiences of the following filmmakers

Gillian McKercher (Circle of Steel)
Cameron Macgowan (Red Letter Day)
Dylan Pearce (Christmas Cupcakes)
Morgan Ermter (Abracadavers)
Matt Watterworth (Jonesin’)

Announcing Project lab winners for 2018

Kirstine Bargas – Music of the Motherland

A musician travels home to Namibia to teach the music classes he has been developing since moving to Canada 9 years ago.  He relives his life’s journey while teaching two school choirs close to where he grew up, returning to Canada with new ideas for his African music workshops and a dream to develop a standardized African music curriculum to better cultivate musical talent.

Paige Boudreau – Just Off Main Street

In an effort to escape her grief, Sophie attempts to recapture the past by inserting herself in her grandmother’s small town life.  In a series of emotional confrontations, Sophie and Grandma Mae fight their way to respecting and embracing their personal grieving processes.

Morgan Ermter - ABRACADAVERS

After the death of his mother in a freak hair salon chair accident, Chris is kidnapped by his friends on a cross-province road trip. As they begin to grapple with concepts of loss, growing up, and mental illness they find they have begun to develop super-powers.

Cameron Macgowan – Red Letter Day

A quiet suburban community turns into a hellish nightmare after the residents each receive a mysterious red letter instructing them to kill or be killed. Red Letter Day is darkly comedic Twilight Zone/EC Comics inspired thriller told with equal measures of heart and creative carnage.

Matt Watterworth – JONESIN’

In a case of mistaken identity, country boy Deke Jones gets kidnapped and finds himself stuck in the big city, way out of his depth, caught between two warring but incompetent gangs.

Kelly Wolfert – SpiderMable the Movie

SpiderMable the Film is a feature-length documentary centered on Mable Took – the cancer-fighting 6-year-old who captured the world’s attention when she set out as “SpiderMable” to fight crime in Edmonton.  The film captures Mable’s incredible transformation from cancer-fighter to celebrity superhero, to fundraising ambassador who tackles her toughest villain yet: cancer.

a lens into 2017 Project Lab winners

In late May 2017, six emerging filmmakers from Alberta were awarded grant money to put towards projects that they can add to their upcoming successful career repertoires. The grants came through Alberta Culture and Tourism’s Project Lab which is a program to support development, production and distribution of compelling Alberta stories.

The grants were awarded to the worthy recipients at an event held at the Calgary Film Centre on May 27, 2017. Honorable Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, was on hand to announce the winning filmmakers.

“Project Lab supports the talented filmmakers emerging in their province through financial, venue, mentorship, equipment services and in-kind resources,” said Miranda. “A critical element of the program involves engaging seasoned Alberta producers, storytellers and others who will use their skills to train and mentor the new generation of talent.”

The grants were broken into two categories: production and development.

The 2017 Production winners are:

·         Gillian McKercher – Circle of Steel 

·         Dylan Pearce – Grandprix Cupcake 

·         Jeremy Podlog – The Comic Strip 

The 2017 development winners are:

·         Matt Watterworth – Jonesin’ 

·         North Country Cinema – Vance Adams 

·         Alecia Krawchuk – New Nowhere

The projects of these winners are as diverse as the winners themselves:

Circle of Steel (Gillian McKercher, Calgary) – This feminist dark comedy tells a satirical story of workers in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. The story follows Wendy Lee, a young female engineer who enters the workforce in a multinational oil company.

Grandprix Cupcake (Dylan Pearce, Edmonton) – Two sisters with seemingly nothing in common must join together to save the family bakery. This female-driven comedy covers topics including sibling rivalry, economic stresses resulting from owning a business and the unbreakable bonds of family.

The Comic Strip (Jeremy Podlog, Edmonton) – The pilot for a potential documentary series set in the backdrop of the iconic Edmonton comedy club, The Comic Strip. A stylistic hybrid of Louis C.K.’s comedy-drama “Louie”; Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”; and Barry Levinson’s “Diner.”

Jonesin’ (Matt Watterworth, Calgary) – The adventure of inadvertent hero Deke Jones, a small town boy who discovers a dangerous new world in the big city. A feature film involving shady business deals, rival territories and a kidnapping resulting from a mistaken identity.

Vance Adams (North County Cinema, Calgary) – The adventures of an unlikely duo in search of new identities amidst the ascent of the social media revolution. Set in Calgary in 2008 in the peak of the oil boom, this dark comedy tells the story of a big-talking advertising director and his intern. 

New Nowhere (Alicia Krawchuk, Edmonton) – A miniseries centered on the patrons of a seemingly mundane diner in rural Alberta. Each of the six episodes follows characters dealing with issues around isolation and mental health and the way people cope with these challenges, for better or worse.

“One of the goals for Project Lab and Calgary Film Centre was to create an ecosystem which serves specific films but also works as a catalyst to elevate the entire industry by bringing talented casts, crews and filmmakers together to drive creative thinking,” said Luke Azevedo, the Commissioner of Film, Television & Creative Industries at Calgary Economic Development. The Calgary Film Centre was honoured to be a part of this great event. We are eager and excited to follow these talented filmmakers on their journeys to complete their projects.

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