Cierra Wieja

Cierra Wieja is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Born and raised in the small city of Sault Ste. Marie, she always dreamed of one day moving to the big city. She enjoys watching movies, especially classic films, listening to music, and cooking for her friends. Besides writing, she is interested in fashion, politics, and studying psychology. She hopes to one day write for television and film.

Hollywood North:
The Script

Exploring the life of a Canadian screenwriter.


Further Your Career: Funding and Training

I’ve covered a lot of topics in this blog: mostly focusing on ways that you can you can get a screenplay off the ground. I’ve talked about different associations and what they can do for your career, but there really won’t be any career unless you can fund your project. Funding is crucial for anyone in the film and writing industry. Without funding, it is extremely difficult to get your project going.

So where does the funding for Canadian film come from? That would be the Canadian Council for the Arts. This council is dedicated to funding the creative endeavors of people pursuing the arts. There are many grants given out to film and video artists that include: research/creation grants, production grants, and scriptwriting grants. The scriptwriting grant covers the cost of screenwriting for independent films and documentaries. Grants like this will help cover the costs of living while researching and creating a screenplay. Also, if you choose to turn your screenplay into a film on your own (many screenwriters start out making short films that they can produce themselves to build their resume), there is also a grant for that.

Another important aspect in starting your career is formal training. I know we’ve all heard the Cinderella story where a filmmaker or screenwriter has gotten their lucky break by being in the right place at the right time, but lets be realistic here. If you want people to take you seriously in this business, then you need to take yourself seriously, and the best way to do that is by educating yourself as much as you can. Schooling will help fine-tune your techniques, give you experience, and help you start networking  (always important). 

There are so many programs out there that you really have to do your research. Many colleges offer scriptwriting programs, and there are places like the Toronto Film Institute that specialize in training people for all types of jobs in the film industry, including screenwriters. Also look around for any seminars and workshops in your area.

When it comes to funding and training; keep yourself educated, do your research, and become involved in your own future. Opportunities are not going to come to you; neither will a grant and a diploma. If you want be a screenwriter, then you need to invest the time in getting formal training, get funding for your projects, and become a member of various associations. If you can keep up with the industry, you may just find your big break. 


Feature: Inside The Life Of A Screenwriter

“Did you get my email?” Lynn Tarzwell asks me, visibly flustered as I stand outside her office, knocking profusely, to know answer. “I’m so sorry, I was running late I hope I didn’t keep you waiting” she is sincere in her apology and as I know how busy she is I am unaffected by her tardiness. Her office is small, or maybe all the things inside it makes it appear that way.  The walls are painted a bright yellow, covered in various pictures and artwork. I have never been in an office quite like this. I feel like I'm in a room at her house at Algonquin College. She offers me a seat at a table.

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Column: Culture Shock: Today's New Celebrity 

I was waiting in line at the drug store, conveniently in front of the magazine rack and what is it I see? Every cover is plastered with pictures of Kim Kardashian and her failed marriage, or Angelina Jolie and her apparent eating disorder. I read these covers and sigh, because sadly, I know that it’s this stuff that people care about. Everyone wants to know which celebrity is doing drugs, or which celebrity couple is having a baby. I mean Snooki gets her own Us Weekly cover for getting pregnant and engaged. This is what people want to read about?

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Becoming A Member: The Writers Guild Of Canada

If you have any interest in movies or screenwriting at all, then you’ve probably heard of something called a guild. Whether it’s the Screen Actor’s Guild, or any writer’s guild, it’s important you belong to one. The union I want to discuss in this week's blog is the Writer’s Guild of Canada. Belonging to a union is even better than being in a club because you actually get benefits. Being a screenwriter is not what many would describe as a “stable” career, that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Working pay-check to pay-check is not uncommon.

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Review: Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building A Good Life In The Digital Age

In today’s society, most of us, if not all of us, are connected to the digital world in one-way or another. Whether it’s Facebook, twitter, or email, we use the Internet as a tool to stay connected. But does it ever become too much?

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