Crafting a Successful Digital Series

Panelists: Wendy Litner, Lauren Corber, Hannah Cheesman, Brooks Gray, Michelle Daly
Moderator: Greg David
Date: Sunday, June 24
Time: 11:15am – 12:15pm
Venue: TIFF Cinema 1

This session will explore what it takes to develop a successful digital series. Panelists will discuss creative story development, story engines, financing opportunities and structures, opportunities for exporting formats, as well as production hacks (for making incredible looking projects on a dime).

Wendy Litner

Wendy Litner

Creator, HOW TO BUY A BABY

Wendy is a lawyer-turned-writer whose work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post, xoJane, Today’s Parent, and McSweeneys, among others. She worked as story coordinator on the first season of THE BEAVERTON and was so excited to write for the show’s second season. Wendy is the creator and writer of the CBC original digital series, HOW TO BUY A BABY, which recently won an Independent Series Award for Best Comedy Series. She and the team are currently hard at work on season two. She serves on the Advisory Board of Fertility Matters Canada, a national organization providing support, awareness, and education about infertility and continues to cultivate a strong online community of people struggling with fertility and family building issues.

Wendy is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School and the Richard Ivey School of Business, though she is happy to not be practicing law or business. 


Lauren Corber

Lauren Corber

Producer, HOW TO BUY A BABY

Lauren Corber is a producer, entertainment lawyer and the founder/president of LoCo Motion Pictures. One of Canada’s leading digital content producers, Lauren’s most recent series, HOW TO BUY A BABY has been named a top web series to watch by the Globe and Mail and Now Magazine. It premiered on CBC in November, 2017 and has won Best Comedy at the Indie Series Awards, is nominated for a Rockie Award and has been invited to screen at festivals in Canada, the US, Asia and Europe. She also produced two seasons of the CSA award-winning CBC comedy, MY 90-YEAR-OLD ROOMMATE starring Paul Soles (SPIDER-MAN) that has over 1 million views. Next up is children’s series, DETENTION ADVENTURE in partnership with Broken Compass Films for CBC Kids.

Lauren is developing several projects including feature film, THE ART OF BEING BUSY (Telefilm Canada’s PITCH THIS! 2016), drama series, NEW WAVE (NSI Totally Television) and comedy web series HIT ON ME (pitch finalist, Just for Laughs ComedyPro 2017). Past productions include award-winning short films that have screened around the world including EMMA (TIFF 2016, Canada’s Top 10 2016) and THE BALCONY AFFAIR (Locarno 2011).

Currently a member of the Board of Directors of the CMPA, Lauren has been actively involved with the organization for over 10 years. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Commerce (McGill) and a Bachelor of Laws (Osgoode). She is an alumnus of the CFC Producer’s Lab, NSI’s Totally Television Program, the WIFT-T Development Incubator and the Bell Media Executive Producer Accelerator Lab.

Lauren was voted most vivacious by her graduating class in high school and has lived up to it ever since.


Hannah Cheesman

Hannah Cheesman

Creator, WHATEVER, LINDA

Hannah Cheesman is a CSA-nominated filmmaker, writer and actor. Named a Playback Five to Watch and a TIFF Emerging Canadian Filmmaker, Hannah’s hit digital series WHATEVER, LINDA is currently in development for television with Bell Media alongside EP Graeme Manson (ORPHAN BLACK), and recently scooped up the top prize during Cannes’ inaugural Canneseries In Development competition (2018). Hannah has directed and written three short films (EMMY, CHEESE, and BRUNCH BITCH), as well as co-directing her first feature film, THE DEFINITES (Whistler, Cucalorus), and has written on such shows as WORKIN’ MOMS and FIND ME IN PARIS. Currently, Hannah is writing her second feature film BORING GIRLS (based on Sara Taylor’s novel of the same name) with Aiken Heart Films and is developing her forthcoming 30-minute cable dark comedy, BADGER, co-producing alongside Patrick O’Sullivan (High Dive Media) and with her own company, The Long Reach Company.


Brooks Gray

Brooks Gray

Co-Creator, THE AMAZING GAYL PILE

Brooks Gray is a two-time Canadian Screen Award winner, two-time Gemini Award winner, and International Emmy Award nominee.

A native of London, Ontario, Brooks studied history at McGill University. His first film, THE SMOKER, won the Audience Choice Award at the McGill Students’ Film & Video Festival. He later joined the cult comedy collective SKITFACED, writing, producing and appearing in dozens of comedy shorts, and performing live at Second City in Toronto.

As a producer and director at MuchMusic, he created award-winning promos (PromaxBDA Gold, 2005), station IDs, show openings, and animated shorts. Brooks wrote and directed an episode of the Gemini Award winning, THE MORGAN WATERS SHOW (CBC, 2006), and later worked on IFC’s mock-rockumentary series, COCK’D GUNNS, as a writer, producer, and co-star (as drummer Barry Ciccarelli). Brooks won two Geminis (Best Writing In A Comedy Series; Best Ensemble Performance In A Comedy Series) for his work on COCK’D GUNNS. He later appeared as a regular cast member on the hidden-camera series, SCARE TACTICS (Syfy), and was showrunner for the hidden-camera series, PRANK SCIENCE (Discovery).

Brooks created, executive produced, directed, and stars (as Reverend Dave) in the CBC/NBCUniversal comedy series, THE AMAZING GAYL PILE (winner of two 2017 Canadian Screen Awards: Best Direction in a Digital Series & Best Digital Series; also nominated for a 2017 International Emmy for Best Short Form Series). The fourth season of THE AMAZING GAYL PILE: APOCALYPSE SOONISH debuted on CBC in March 2018.

Brooks recently appeared in director Andy King’s Rob Ford-inspired feature, FILTH CITY (produced by LaRue Entertainment), and Rebecca Addelman’s directorial debut, PAPER YEAR (starring Eve Hewson, produced by First Generation Films). He currently has several projects in development.


Michelle Daly

Michelle Daly

Senior Director, Comedy, CBC Scripted Content

As Senior Director of Comedy, CBC Scripted Content, Michelle Daly leads the team responsible for managing the creative development and production of CBC’s slate of comedic programming.  Michelle joined the CBC as Executive in Charge of Production in 2011, and has contributed to the success of hit CBC shows KIM’S CONVENIENCE, BARONESS VON SKETCH SHOW, WORKIN MOMS, SCHITT’S CREEK, and THIS HOUR HAS 22 MINUTES. Michelle is also a board member of WIFT-T.

Prior to joining the CBC, Michelle was the Director of Content at The Comedy Network where she managed the creative elements on such programs as CORNER GAS, DAN FOR MAYOR, PICNICFACE, and THE JON DORE TELEVISION SHOW. Her passion for comedy extends back to one of her first positions as an assistant to THE KIDS IN THE HALL.

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