The 2016 Professional Development Day, taking place on December 11th at the Ottawa Acting Company during our Fall 2016 Festival! With a variety of programming geared toward both experienced filmmakers as well as those looking to break into the industry, Digi60’s Professional Development Day has something for everyone looking to build skills, perfect pitches, or expand their network of contacts.

Attendees will have a choice of various sessions, depending on their interest. Each session is $10, please email Britt, our festival coordinator to register.

Come and meet the folks who put on Digi60 and the filmmakers who participated. Grab a coffee and chat about your experience & pass along some feedback! 

10:00-11:30 am ACTING FOR THE CAMERA
with Robert Bockstael

Film & TV veteran Robert Bockstael will give an intro to acting for television and film, including his insider tips, while also doing Q&A about what's next for beginner, intermediate and advanced actors to pursue their continued learning in the craft and art of acting.


Robert Bockstael is known to millions as the sociopathic Corporal Brian Fletcher from his years as a leading character on CBC’s North of 60. He is also much loved for his portrayal of Jim Flett on Sullivan’s Wind at My Back and Mr. Dupree on Disney’s Famous Jett Jackson.

During his 32 years in the industry, Robert has worked as an actor in theatres across Canada. He is also a director, a playwright, has been Associate Artistic Director of GCTC in Ottawa and founding member and Co-Artistic Director of the New Theatre of Ottawa. He has appeared as leading characters in 7 television series, over 60 films and provided voices for countless animated series. He has written for series television and spent several years creating and developing a series of his own with Global Television.

Mr. Bockstael now makes his home in Ottawa and works as an instructor for The Acting Company. He is currently at work on his first novel.

with Rick Kaulbars

Rick Kaulbars (writer, director, and professor at Algonquin College) will lead screenwriters on how to capture the attention of prospective investors, giving out tips on how to successfully pitch a project to industry producers.

Rick Kaulbars has been working as a writer for film and television for over twenty years. As co-writer on the Comedy Network’s cult TV series, Kevin Spencer (1997-2005), he wrote over 40 half-hours, making it (at that time) the longest running situation-based comedy in Canadian television.  Rick was also a voice on most episodes. Rick’s written for such internationally respected series’ as “For Better or for Worse”, “White Fang”, and “Toad Patrol.” In digital media, Rick wrote for and appeared in the Macromedia Award winning interactive digital drama “Midnight Stranger” for Animatics Corp. and in the summer of 2013 was the voice of Fred Flintstone for a game app produced by Wave Generation of Montreal.

Rick’s strength is his humour and he worked for several years as a stand-up comic for Yuk Yuks. In 2014 he performed stand-up with “Kids in the Hall”s Kevin Mcdonald and also performs with his improv comedy team, "Stairlift to Heaven." Onscreen, Rick has appeared with Colin Mochrie in the CBC series "Getting Along Famously", playing the tyrannical head of the CBC. Onstage, he starred in the 2011 Fringe Festival production “Satanic Panic” (a play written by one of his student graduates) and, more recently, played an 1800s pimp in the 2014 Fringe production “Finished Girls”, which he wrote.

He wrote his first feature film “Two’s A Mob” for award-winning director Derek Diorio and self-produced a feature film, “Hell Gig” about life on the road as a stand-up comic.  Presently he continues to generate projects, having a television series under option with TSB Productions, a popular ad campaign for Dymon Storage screening in theatre’s across Ontario, and is co-producing a radio-drama with CKCU based on his Fringe Show

with Alex Lee Williams & Jay Drakulic

Justin Hewitt-Drakulic, and Alex Lee Williams, along with producer Michelle Aseltine, came out on top of CineCoup’s Big Deal 12-week film challenge. Voted through CineCoup’s website, their project moved through the gruelling marketing challenge, coming out on top, ahead of 120 films. Making the top 5, they live pitched to an industry panel at the Banff World Media Festival, for a chance to win up to $1 million in funding and national release on Cineplex Theatres - which they won! Learn how they did it, and ask them questions about their transition from short films to CineCoup feature!

Jay and Alex first began their collaboration at the Digi60 Spring Film Festival with their award winning short film Language. Recently, they completed their first feature Hellmington starring Nicola Correia Damude (Shadowhunters), Munro Chambers (Turbo Kid), Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries) and Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Top Gun, Scanners). They currently work in Toronto, Ontario with their business partner Michelle Aseltine at Blind Luck Pictures.


with Ilona Smyth

Ilona Smyth, CSA, will be discussing how actors work with Casting Directors, the casting process, what she looks for from talent, how new actors conduct themselves when getting into the industry, and what to do when preparing for a role. She has a wealth of knowledge and provides real world information for new actors.

Ilona is a native of Ottawa. She attended Carleton University in the film studies program.  She has been casting in Ottawa for over 8 years, bringing with her a unique understanding of the city and its talent pool to the casting process. Ilona has cast over 40 projects in North America, many of them simultaneously and as a casting director not an assistant, or associate. She has cast feature films, television series, movies of the week, commercials for major corporations and independent features. She understands that each project comes with it’s own set of challenges. Ilona is the primary casting director in Ottawa. She also regularly casts actors out of Toronto, New York, Montreal, New Mexico,Vancouver & LA. Ilona has worked one-on-one with directors: Don McKellar, Mark Tonderai, Peter Moss, Jim Allodi, Joe Ruben, Jon Watts, Patricia Rozema, Alison Mclean to name a few.

Ilona has a wealth of experience in live casting. Having cast National ads including numerous commercials for FORD CANADA, A&W and NORDSTROM. She has the ability to identify and secure the proper demographic to ensure the client’s needs and requests are being met. Her strong intuition helps in the search for those who are comfortable, dynamic, and witty and bring the most genuine responses on camera. 
Ilona is a longstanding, respected member of The Casting Director Society of Canada. (CDC).  The importance and significance of this achievement is explained in the following link: 

Striving to bring her best to each and every production, Ilona takes great pride in utilizing her experience and resources to assist directors in realizing their vision and bringing their characters from page to reality.

with Max McGuire
Directed to new and emerging Digi60 filmmakers who want direct professional feedback in a conversational manner, Max will use constructive criticism and give some tips on how to improve your filmmaking skills, pointing out things you may not have noticed as a new or emerging filmmaker. 

 Photo by Adrian Langley

Photo by Adrian Langley

As a writer and director Maxwell has been financed by Telefilm Canada, OMDC, Canada Council for the Arts, CJOH TV development fund, Harold Greenberg Fund, and a number of private institutions and distributors.

Foreverland, Max's largest film, was distributed theatrically, on airplanes and on  TMN by Eone in Canada, it was sold by Vision Films internationally and FilmBuff in the USA.

Max is currently developing the feature length thriller, "Wounded", which was invited to the International Film Finance Forum at TIFF and the IFP No Borders Market in NYC. Development funding came from the OMDC and Telefilm Canada. 

Max is also working on a passion project with his father, who got him into filmmaking. It's an indie-thriller about the perils of retirement, currently titled, "Freedom 65".

Max just wrapped production on a TV movie called "Precious Things", starring Victoria Pratt, Christina Cox and Sarah Fisher for the production companies The MOB entertainment and Roma Roth.

with Dan Lyon - Regional Feature Film Executive of Telefilm Canada

Dan will help clarify the Telefilm Microbudget Program and how more experienced Ottawa filmmakers can access funds!


Dan Lyon is Telefilm Canada’s Regional Feature Film Executive, for the Ontario & Nunavut Regions. Over 100 feature films have been co-financed by the Ontario office under his guidance, such as SLEEPING GIANT, MEAN DREAMS, BANG BANG BABY, AMAL, tBACKCOUNTRY, ONE WEEK, EDWIN BOYD, PICTURE DAY, YOUNG PEOPLE F&#KING and GUIDANCE. 

Prior to joining Telefilm Canada, Dan worked primarily as a distributor and executive producer. Originally an entertainment lawyer, Dan joined Astral Bellevue Pathe Inc. in 1985 and ultimately became Executive Vice-President, Distribution for Astral and its successor companies Coscient, Motion and TVA. He subsequently formed his own company Dandelion Entertainment Ventures Inc. 

As a distributor, Dan was awarded the Golden Reel for “The Art of War”  (in respect of which he subsequently produced two sequels with Sony) and was the first independent buyer in the world (at the screenplay stage) for Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” which went on to win the Palme D’Or and three Academy Awards. 

Credits as executive producer include “Ginger Snaps”, “Red Green’s Duct Tape Forever”, Jacob Tierney’s debut feature “Twist”, and “Everything’s Gone Green” written by Douglas Coupland. Additional awards include a Peabody (for “The Interrogation of Michael Crowe”). The first project he championed upon joining Telefilm in the fall of 2005 was “Away From Her”, which received two Academy Award nominations in January 2008 (Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress). 

Dan has been involved in many charitable and educational activities related to the film industry, and served as vice-president of the Board of the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL Toronto) for several years.

4:00-6:00 pm PRODUCER'S PANEL
Producers Alphonse Ghossein (Go Insane Films), Sarah Fodey (SandBay Pictures) and Alex Lee Williams (Blind Luck Pictures) will introduce themselves & talk about their work and connection to the Ottawa film & TV industry. This will include what they look for in projects, crew and pitching their own work. Screenwriters from the CRAFTING YOUR PITCHES session and other attendees will have the chance to pitch to the producers who will offer feedback and advice to those looking to get their idea off the ground and onto the screen. 

Alphonse Ghossein was born in Zahle, lebanon. At the age of Six, he immigrated to Canada with his family. He is a leading real estate developer based in Ottawa, Canada. His portfolio includes a retail operation, multiple residential units, commercial buildings and malls anchored by major national and international tenants that are located in Canada and the United States.

Over the past several years, apart from his successful real estate development, Mr. Ghossein has been pursuing his passion for film production. 

Alphonse is an Executive Producer of the thriller films, "Penthouse North" starring The Golden Globe Award Winner Michael Keaton known for Bird Man and Michelle Monaghan known for Source Code and "Bottom of the World" starring Jena Malone from the Hunger Games. He has also produced the action film "Gutshot" starring Al Sapienza from the Sopranos and the dark comedy "Highly Functional" starring Bruce Campbell from Army of Darkness. His most recent contribution to the film industry is producer and lead financier for the horror film, "The Blackcoat's Daughter" (AKA, February) starring Emma Roberts known for Scream Queens and Nerve. This film has premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2015. In 2016, Mr. Ghossein and Go Insane Films returned for a second year in a row to the Toronto International Film Festival for his recent film "I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives in the House" starring The Golden Globe Award Winner Ruth Wilson known for The Affair. 

Mr. Ghossein has many more exciting film projects in  development and is looking forward to a busy 2017.


An accomplished Producer and Writer, Sarah Fodey’s eighteen-year career in motion storytelling has spanned feature films, scripted series, factual entertainment, documentary production, and branded corporate communications. Sarah has executive produced, produced, and line produced for networks such as the CBC, Global, APTN, Comedy, Bravo!, TFO, City, and TMN. She is currently co-executive producing the second season of the documentary series Playing with Fire; producing and co-writing a feature-length documentary The Fruit Machine; and producing and writing Sam, a scripted web drama. In addition to her entertainment experience, Sarah has written and produced hundreds of hours of award-winning content in branded corporate storytelling. In 2013-2014, Sarah led a team of writers, directors, researchers, designers, composers, and creative post personnel on a large-scale project for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada, delivering 59 original films and two sound landscapes for the Museum’s inaugural launch. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Queen’s University and an honour’s diploma in the Television Broadcasting program at Algonquin College.


Jay and Alex first began their collaboration at the Digi60 Spring Film Festival with their award winning short film Language. Recently, they completed their first feature Hellmington starring Nicola Correia Damude (Shadowhunters), Munro Chambers (Turbo Kid), Yannick Bisson (Murdoch Mysteries) and Michael Ironside (Total Recall, Top Gun, Scanners). They currently work in Toronto, Ontario with their business partner Michelle Aseltine at Blind Luck Pictures.