imagineNATIVE/CMPA Mini-Lab for Canadian Indigenous Film Producers

imagineNATIVE producer-focused professional development lab for emerging and mid-career Canadian Indigenous Producers looking to hone their skills in dramatic feature film production.

The imagineNATIVE/CMPA Canadian Indigenous Film Producer Mini-Lab, generously sponsored by the Canadian Media Producers Association, is designed to hone the skills and knowledge base of emerging Canadian Indigenous producers through dedicated one-on-one engagement with an established Indigenous creative industry leader.

For 2016, imagineNATIVE has invited Laura J. Milliken (Ojibway) to lead the initiative.

Laura J. Milliken is an accomplished producer and entrepreneur and a member of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.  She is President and CEO of Toronto-based Big Soul Productions and is co-creator and co-executive producer of the Gemini-nominated dramatic television series, Moccasin Flats.  Since establishing Big Soul Productions over seventeen years ago, Laura has co-created, and produced numerous award-winning programs, including a debut feature film, Fire Song, 6 episodes of Guilt Free Zone (APTN), 22 episodes of Moccasin Flats (Showcase/APTN), a Moccasin Flats television movie entitled Redemption, 20 episodes of the animated comedy series, By The Rapids (APTN), 39 episodes of The Seventh Generation (APTN), and numerous short films, television specials, documentaries, music videos, PSA’s and corporate videos.

She is currently developing The North End, a thirteen episode, one-hour drama for APTN and is in post production for 13 episodes of the Guilt Free Zone Season 2 (APTN).  

Through a public application process, imagineNATIVE will invite four emerging Canadian Indigenous producers – with minimal credits on professionally presented short or feature film work – to participate in a three-day “mini-lab” with Milliken.

Through a series of daily private, intensive half-day sessions running October 20-22, 2016 Milliken will discuss her own projects and experiences, share best practices of creative and business production, and equip participants with producing savvy needed to develop their projects.

Milliken will discuss through her own projects and experiences, sharing best practices throughout the creative and business production processes, including:

  • Evolution of a career: Milliken discussing her professional career trajectory, the lessons learned and experience gained, what drives her decisions, the cultural impact and influence of her Indigenous heritage on her career, managing and committing to creative and economically driven projects, and work/life;
  • Producing vs. Executive Producing: distinction, benefits and challenges;
  • Case studies of her works to provide guidance and insight on practical producing processes for long form production;
  • Navigating larger feature film funding applications and opportunities industry level projects (CMF, Telefilm, APTN RFP); and,  
  • Building relationships with funders, studios, professionals, and talent.

The mini-lab will also invite industry leaders in-conversation with Milliken to inform and enhance perspectives within the larger media arts sector. 



Applicants must be Indigenous Canadian (First Nations, Inuit or Métis) and be resident in Canada. Travel and accommodation are not provided; this lab takes place during the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto from October 20 to 22, 2016 and all successful applicants must be available for this period.

Applicants must submit the following via email to

  • Name
  • Location (Country, Province, City)
  • Indigenous Affiliation
  • CV and filmography including awards and festivals listing
  • 1 page (max) letter of intent detailing your interest, a short description about your current project(s) how you hope the mini-lab will improve your skills.
  • online links to two (2) works in the producing role (you may have done other roles on the project)

Deadline for applications is September 28, 2016. Applicants will be notified of their results by October 4, 2015.